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Canada’s procurement minister is defending the federal government’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan amid mounting concerns about new delays and cost overruns.

Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi used a speech to a major arms industry conference today to note that shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver have delivered five large ships to the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard.

She also expressed confidence in the government’s talks with Chantier Davie about adding the Quebec-based shipyard to the procurement program so it can start building new coast guard icebreakers.

However, Tassi did not reveal why those talks with Davie have dragged out for more than two years, saying in an interview only that government officials are doing their due diligence.

The minister also confirmed the government is in talks with Irving Shipbuilding about its request for federal funds to upgrade its shipyard, but would not provide further details.

The Halifax shipyard has warned its current plan to start cutting steel on the navy’s new warship fleet in 2024 is contingent on getting additional funding by early next year.

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