Penashue stands behind sub-centre closure

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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If he could turn back time, it appears Labrador MP Peter Penashue would not attempt to change the federal government's mind in closing the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's.

"We would never jeopardize the safety and security of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, or Canadians across the country," said Penashue, speaking after a news conference held Friday morning in St. John's. "We're very confident in our program. We feel very confident that we have not put at risk the security and safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by downsizing our process in terms of search and rescue."

Calls that once would have gone through the St. John's rescue sub-centre have been sent to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax as of Wednesday.

As an act of defiance over the decision - which saved Ottawa approximately $1 million annually - the City of St. John's lowered the Newfoundland and Labrador flag in front of City Hall to half-mast Wednesday. The move was made in recognition of the potential for future lives to be lost as a result of the closure.

'We have a responsibility as a government to build relations'

"He's obviously making a point," Penashue said, referring specifically to St. John's mayor Dennis O'Keefe, "and it's seen and it's heard. But I think we have a responsibility as a government to build relations, and I think they have a responsibility to build relations as well, because only if we all work together can we build a good strong economy, and I think that's what it's all about."

Penashue was in St. John's on Friday to talk about the federal government's plans for a trade agreement with the European Union.

The centre's two-man watch was scheduled to continue until April 30. Beyond that date, employees were set to either be transitioned into retirement or moved to new positions. The sub-centre had 12 employees.

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the rescue sub-centre handled an average of 500 incidents involving 2,900 people annually. Of those, 28 per cent were classified as distress incidents.

arobinson@thetelegram.com Twitter: TeleAndrew With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: Marine Rescue Sub-Centre, Joint Rescue Co, European Union Canadian Coast Guard Canadian Press

Geographic location: St. John's, Halifax, Ottawa Newfoundland and Labrador

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  • Bonnie
    April 29, 2012 - 15:16

    I agree. Peter Penashue is definitely a lapdog for Stephen Harper. Whenever he stands up to speak you can almost see Stephen Harper standing behind him telling him exactly what to say. Let's face it Mr. Penashue, you have not impressed nor stood up for the people of NL. We all realize you do not have what it takes and you are not capable of speaking your own mind. Better hope you get a pension with just one term in office...since we all know you won't be back.

  • BWJ
    April 29, 2012 - 13:09

    i wonder which part of mr. penashue's body does harper have his hand up to manipulate him like a puppet. penashue stand on your own morales and represent the people that elected you

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 29, 2012 - 12:32

    The NL Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) was co-located in Coast Guard's Regional Operations Centre......... Having worked many years as a Watch Supervisor (not as a SAR Co-orinator, but side by side with them) in that Regional Operations Centre, let me assure readers that the MRSC was no "call centre"........ SAR Co-ordinators had full co-ordination/operational responsibility for "marine" SAR off our shores and half-way across the North Atlantic....... One key element that seems to have been lost is the fact that MRSC was "co-located" with Coast Guard NL Region's other "operational" activities ----- St. John's marine radio communications, St. John's Harbour Vessel Traffic Control, St. John's Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services which extend half-way across the Atlantic, NL Regional Notices to Shipping/Mariners Co-ordination, NL Regional Pollution Reporting Centre, NL Regional Ice Operations Centre, etc........... I have more than once overheard our NL SAR Co-ordinators in the very first instance of receiving, recording and co-ordinating a distress case, and my co-location with them (being in the same room) allowed me (while they were receiving the initial information) conduct, in parallel with their work, research on vessels and other relevant information that might help in the case ---- and I have placed that critical information (location of vessels who might assist, etc.) before them before he/she even got off the phone........ Explain to me how that can be done from Halifax ---- since it is only the Coast Guard Watch Supervisor, Marine Traffic Regulator and Ice Operations Officers in that very same room that could so quickly provide such critical information to the SAR Co-ordinator?..... This is a major loss of service not only to the NL marine community but to our offshore and international shipping community.

  • Dennis hart
    April 29, 2012 - 11:10

    The man has a point. It's a call center. We ain't losing search and rescue capability here folks. There's no hasselhoff with binoculars being lost. Just some reverse patronage with a side of ABC for good measure. Thanks Danny !!

  • always vote
    April 29, 2012 - 10:15

    traitor, turncoat, back stabber, Lapdog. idiot, fool, Sell out! but not to worry, harper will find or create space for him in the senate..

  • William Daniels
    April 28, 2012 - 20:23

    Worst representative NL has ever had. Lapdog.

  • mike
    April 28, 2012 - 15:35

    Funny how thing s change once you're in office. Just another yes man for the "harper government" Easy to forget where you came from when you got a big gov pension with your name on it. Sell out!

    • Patrick Guilfoyle
      April 29, 2012 - 05:27

      Penashue will be a one term MP and minister. He would have done better as chief of the Innu nation.