Politicians point fingers over SAR responsiblity

James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderdale

In a rare moment of unanimity at Confederation Building Thursday, both the Liberals and the Tories agreed more needs to be done on search and rescue.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale told reporters that federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay needs to do more to bolster the national search and rescue system; moments later, Liberal MHA Randy Edmunds emerged to tell reporters it’s really Dunderdale who should be doing more.

“The premier keeps calling for action. She’s in a position to take the lead,” Edmunds said. “She’s in a position to act. She has the mandate to call a public inquiry. She has the guidelines. She has the discretion.”

On Tuesday, federal Auditor General Michael Ferguson issued a report dealing with a raft of problems in the national SAR system. Aircraft are old, and the wrong type. He also pointed to a shortage of pilots and rescue co-ordinators as a serious cause for concern.

On Thursday, MacKay an-nounced millions of dollars for new satellites to bolster the country’s search system, along with other measures to make search and rescue more robust.

But Dunderdale said she’s not satisfied. She said there’s plenty of recommendations from Ferguson’s report that the federal government can move on right away, and she wants to see results.

“It isn’t good enough,” she said. “We need something around task times. We need something around scheduling.”


“There needs to be an immediate improvement to communications, and we need a plan for replacing aging vessels and aircraft,” the premier said.

Dunderdale said Minister Kevin O’Brien, who’s responsible for emergency services, has already written a letter to MacKay, and he’s looking for a meeting with his federal counterpart.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have been calling for an inquiry into SAR issues for more than a year. In the winter of 2012, Labrador teen Burton Winters died after getting lost on the sea ice near Makkovik.

Edmunds, who lives in the community, said an inquiry would go further, and give a better picture of the problems in the system.

“When is our province going to start taking a lead on this issue? Lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are very important. We need to show that we care and we’re going to look out for the best interests of the people of our province,” he said. “If you don’t look at every angle of search and rescue in our province, there’s going to be a doubt.”



Twitter: @TelegramJames


Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Graham
    May 03, 2013 - 12:07

    So Ron what your saying is its ok with you that nothing has been done since Chretian and thats ok with you.

  • Ron
    May 03, 2013 - 11:09

    My good Folks, The state of the Search and Rescue can be contributed right back to good old Chreitan and the Libs when he said if i'm elected I will take this Pen and cancel the contract for the EH101. From that moment on he let the Canadian Armed Forces to fend for them selfs by hacking and slashing everthing. So when you start laying blame for the state of things, point your finger in the right direction.

  • Graham
    May 03, 2013 - 10:29

    You long past your BEST BEFORE DATE Kathy....2015 wont get here soon enough. Yes Duffy ...WE ALL REMEMBER.

  • saelcove
    May 03, 2013 - 09:15

    Stunderdale just trying to make a few political points by jumping on the feds

  • Doug
    May 03, 2013 - 08:16

    Couldn't agre more DUFFY...Can't wait to see this crowd of buffoons gone in 2015...ABC all the way.

  • Duffy
    May 03, 2013 - 07:01

    Where was she when it happened to Burton .................... too late now my lady. Just move on and let someone else in as your day has passed. Remember folks when this happened it appeared she was in Harpers pocket for Muskrat Falls $$$$ and therefor would say nothing - many of us remember..

    • Chris
      May 03, 2013 - 12:09

      Didn't think we needed the government to babysit all of us!