Conservatives not ignoring CFB Goose Bay, Penashue says

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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Federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Penashue. — Telegram file photo

A Liberal senator’s use of CFB Goose Bay as an example of a redundant military site didn’t shock this province’s federal cabinet rep.

“It does not surprise me to see a Liberal Senator speaking out against our base in Goose Bay,” Intergovernmental Affairs minister Peter Penashue said in an emailed quote. “It was the previous Liberal government that gave up on CFB Goose Bay years ago, and this shows they would continue to ignore it given the opportunity. Not me, and not my party.”

Documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post reported Monday, indicate the Defence Department will look at selling property and closing facilities as part of cost-cutting measures.

In the story, Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny supported the measures and suggested up to a quarter of DND’s facilities could be sold or shut down.

The former chairman of the senate’s defence committee cited Goose Bay as an example of a redundant site.

“It’s been kept alive by political pressure,” Kenny is quoted as saying, “and it’s costing millions to keep operating.”

Penashue didn’t deny the costs, and boasted the Conservative’s investment Goose Bay. He called the base a key part of the Labrador region’s economic engine.

“Since our government was elected in 2006, we have continually and consistently worked to secure the future viability of the base,” he said. “We've invested more than $320 million dollars into the base for clean up of contamination and resurfacing of the runaway. All of these investments enhance the marketability of CFB Goose Bay and continue its strong reputation as a world-class facility.”

The future Goose Bay also surfaced in the House of Commons Monday.

Jack Harris, MP for St. John’s East, noted the base contributes over $75 million to Newfoundland and Labrador's gros domestic product.

He said the facility has served Canada with distinction in a strategic northern location.

“Shutting down this base would devastate the economy of central Labrador,” Harris told the House. “Can the minister come clean and tell us whether the government will axe this major contributor to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, or will it keep its promise to establish a rapid reaction battalion in Goose Bay with over 600 troops?”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded by saying Penashue has made “incredible efforts to ensure we continue to make historic investments both in Gander, Goose Bay, and across the country. We will continue to do so.”

sbartlett@thetelegram.com Twitter: bartlett_steve

Organizations: Intergovernmental Affairs, Ottawa Citizen, National Post Defence Department House of Commons

Geographic location: Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Gander

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  • Bill
    October 25, 2011 - 12:12

    Just a few months ago Peter McKay was the Minister of Defence and the Regional Minister for NL. He is still Defence Minister but now chooses to pass the buck to Peter Penashue. If there was nothing ominous in the winds about Goose Bay I suspect the Defence Minister would have simply refuted the statement by Senator Kenny and said Goose Bay is not for sale. You cannot trust Harper or his Ministers to act in the best interests of the people of this province.