MacKay addresses SAR issues including possible inquiry, announces funding

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James McLeod
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Says federal government would co-operate with province on an inquiry into search and rescue

Defence Minister Peter MacKay address members of the media in St. John's this morning. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

National Defence Minister Peter MacKay got an early start today in St. John’s, meeting with his provincial counterpart Kevin O'Brien on search and rescue issues, and announcing funding and pledging support for an inquiry.

MacKay said the federal government would co-operate with the province on an inquiry into search and rescue.

At the Marine Institute, he announced close to $1 million to support ground search and rescue systems.

MacKay has been on the defensive since last week's federal auditor general report laid out deep concerns in the national search and rescue system.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson said the government has a shortage of pilots and other personnel, as well as problems with organization of aircraft.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale has said she's not happy with what she read, and Dunderdale has demanded specific measures and timelines for Ottawa to address each of Ferguson's recommendations.

MacKay met with O'Brien — the minister responsible for emergency services — early this morning, before heading up to the Marine Institute facility on Mount Scio road to make an $876,000 funding announcement.

MacKay said it was a "productive" meeting, and the province needs to co-operate on SAR issues.

"Each of us plays a role in the system. Each of us plays on the same team," MacKay said.

More in Tuesday’s Telegram.

Organizations: National Defence, Marine Institute

Geographic location: St. John's, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Chad
    May 06, 2013 - 12:09

    These guys never cease to amaze. They eliminate the rescue center in St. John's to save $1M and then turn around and spend $2M in Halifax to upgrade their center. Is it possible this minister may be from that area and this was all political.

  • Brian
    May 06, 2013 - 12:08

    Well now, he's leaving it up to Base Commanders!!!, guess if we have any further problems MacKay and his group will have someone else to put the blame on!! Who's in charge???!

  • Maggy Carter
    May 06, 2013 - 11:08

    In advance of his re-appointment as Newfoundland's representative in the federal cabinet, Mr. MacKay has decided to have a little fun at Ms. Dunderdale's expense. Since the Burton Winters tragedy, Dunderdale has been able to dodge public demands for a inquiry into the repeated failures of SAR by pointing out that a provincially appointed commission could not compel federal employees to cooperate with, or testify at, such an inquiry. It was a valid, if convenient excuse for avoiding an inquiry that could lay blame not only on Ottawa but on her government as well. Today MacKay called her bluff by pledging full federal cooperation with such an inquiry. No doubt Mr. Ball will be back on his feet in the House demanding that Dunderdale take MacKay up on his promise. It will leave her in an awkward spot. By her own account, MacKay's announcement of improvements last week amounts to little more than a new coat of paint on a badly eroded structure. What now will be her reason for not moving ahead with an investigation that almost everyone except Dunderdale agrees is badly needed?

  • Sick of Harper
    May 06, 2013 - 10:38

    What a bunch of foolishness. They closed down our rescue centre in St. John's and left Quebecs open. They are only doing this because of their buddy running in Labrador and try to get a few votes. We are not stupid people down here, too little too late!!!

  • Eli
    May 06, 2013 - 10:07

    So he met with O'Brien, the same Miniister who said all was ok with emergency services after last fall's windstorm. The reality was the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. So in essence you had Arrogance 1 conversing with Arrogance II. Both of 'em should be carted off to Robin Hood Bay in the spring cleanup.

  • holy smokes
    May 06, 2013 - 09:33

    "Each of us plays a role in the system. Each of us plays on the same team," MacKay said. Yes, Peety........Some of us(u) get ferried from the Gander when on holidays....and then try to tell us that it was all 'coincidental' and part of a 'training' exercise......only to be shot out of the sky month's later with the covered up truth!!