A Crippled Ship of State

Once or twice a day, JoAnn I can sit on the front porch of our Raspberry Island cottage in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and enjoy the sight of Bluenose, Canada’s national tall ship, sailing majestically by, her huge, sweeping sails gleaming in the bright sunlight. Except — it’s a just a mirage — a smoke and mirrors national embarrassment. And the tragedy of the Bluenose — what happens when incompetent and self-serving government leaders and bureaucrats make important decisions — has lessons for all Canadians and Americans. By the early 2000s, it had become clear that Bluenose II, the replica built in 1963 of Canada’s famed racing schooner, was feeling her age. Like most wooden boats over time, she had become “hogged.” The stress of winds and ocean seas on her timbers had weakened her structure in the bow and stern. The proud ship that had served her country so well was no longer truly seaworthy. Had the Canadian Federal and Nova Scotia Provincial governments turned the construction of a new Bluenose over to the shipwrights of Lunenburg, builders for generations of wooden ships, including both the original Bluenose and her 1963 replacement, they would have created a beautiful, seagoing ship, in all likelihood on time and on budget. What Canada has instead, is a construction cost budgeted at $14.4 million that has escalated to $25 million and is still climbing, a project that has suffered years of delays, and a ship that may never be able to do more than sail back and forth in a safe harbor. What are the lessons we should learn from this sad debacle?...