Despite mounting criticism of the federal government from provincial politicians, Conservative MP Peter Penashue said he expects the relationship between the two levels of government to improve.
Earlier this week, Premier Kathy Dunderdale said the Canadian military made “a very bad judgment call” to not send a requested Cormorant helicopter to aid in the search for missing Labrador teenager Burton Winters in January. Burton was later found frozen to death. Late last week, Dunderdale criticized federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay over the federal government’s lack of plans to station a battalion at the Canadian Forces base in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, despite an election promise in 2006 from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reiterated as late as last year. The Liberal and New Democrat parties have also been ramping up criticism of the federal government in the wake of recent federal budget cuts.
Penashue, regional minister
for Newfoundland and Labrador, speaking after a funding announcement from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, said the tension between the governments arises from old issues, and that the two sides are in a “building relationships mode.”
“We’ve been making an effort to build up relationships, and I think we’re doing very well,” he said. “My office is always, constantly talking with the premier’s office, so we have good communications, and we’re going to continue to build those relationships. And I think over time you’ll see that the relationship will improve.”
Penashue said his government intends to build up 5 Wing Goose Bay.
“We’ve assured people that are working in 5 Wing Goose Bay, all 350 people and all the spinoffs from that, that they have an excellent future,” he said. “We’re going to build up 5 Wing Goose Bay, and we are going to operationalize 5 Wing, and there’s a committee reviewing the operational mandate and this operational mandate will have to do with Arctic sovereignty. So that’s the most important thing is to keep those jobs and build up 5 Wing Goose Bay.”
Plans for 5 Wing will be rolled out in “the next several months,” Penashue said.
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