We should all be outraged

John Crosbie
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Last in a two-part series


Here in Newfoundland, we all know that good faith, integrity, decency and ethical behaviour got Paul Johnson the recognition and representation he and his insurance company have earned. That’s why his business has more than 1,000 “good, dependable people, with thousands of satisfied customers across Canada.”

Johnson is a public, spirited citizen who was interested in improving conditions for those risking their lives on the sea in the aftermath of the Ocean Ranger disaster.

He invested considerable time and money in a Seascape lifeboat evacuation system.

But rather than being thanked by the Canadian bureaucracy and the government departments involved in his Seascape endeavour, they passed the buck from themselves to anyone they could pass the buck to, refusing to meet their commitments and refusing to help the only Canadian individual and corporation that have made a serious attempt to research and improve  safety conditions at sea so that another such tragedy will not befall Newfoundlanders and seamen offshore.

Johnson has had to commence litigation against the Government of Canada to try to recoup the money he has expended over the years in trying to improve safety at sea for Canadians and others, particularly for those working in the oil and gas industry off our  shores.

I know of what I write because before I was appointed to the lieutenant-governor’s post I was engaged with others to give him legal advice on how to proceed with action against the recalcitrant, indifferent and hapless federal government and some of its bureaucrats. I have not been involved in these legal actions since, nor have I received any payment from Johnson as a result of those efforts. Rather, I am just amazed, disturbed and determined that justice should be done wherever injustice arises, and in this case Paul Johnson has been treated unfairly and unjustly, and punished for his efforts to improve conditions for safety at sea.

Not only a huge amount of time but a huge amount of money has been put into his  attempts, all to no avail.

Federal government bureaucrats have acted cravenly, failing the federal government. As for Johnson, he is now 84 years old, and has received 27 awards for charitable, historical, educational and cultural projects involving expenditures in our province and in other parts of Canada — more than $50 million. It is very disturbing that he should be treated as he has been treated in this rotten and unjust way. The “Seascape saga” is a saga of bureaucratic ineptness.

What has occurred is not necessarily the fault of politicians, but it is the fault of many of the people who work for the Government of Canada.

It seems to me that since Johnson has made this bureaucratic injustice public, the public should respond by encouraging people who might be able to do something about this to take up the cause.

I call upon the following Newfoundland MPs: Ryan Cleary, Yvonne Jones, Jack Harris, Scott Andrews, Scott Simms, Gerry Byrne and Judy Foote, and the following Senators: Elizabeth Marshall, George Furey, George Baker, Fabian Manning, David Wells and Norman Doyle, to take the initiative to force the bureaucracy to reveal all the details and to see that government ministers take an interest in this situation to ensure that this outrageous miscarriage of justice is not   permitted to continue or succeed. The court litigation will continue indefinitely if the bureaucracy has its way.

Learning how this outstanding fellow Newfoundlander has been treated while attempting to do what government itself should have been doing — but seems incapable of doing — with respect to safety at sea, should be an objective of us all.

We should now look to our members of the House of Commons and our members of the Senate to use the power and influence they have to see that this monstrous injustice and the treatment of Paul Johnson is reversed immediately and without delay.


John Crosbie welcomes your feedback by email at telegram@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: House of Commons

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Winston
    July 03, 2013 - 15:17

    After the Ocean Ranger loss, I considered the concept of a double shell sphere can could survive a fall and impact from a rig when released, and survive for a couple of days below the sea with the occupants, and then be retrieved after the monstrous sea had settled. I had an association with Vibron Ltd in Toronto who had worked on vibration issues with the CN tower and other projects. Vibron said the concept was feasible. I sent correspondence to Mobil Oil as to their interest. I got no reply. So I let it go.

  • Stephen d Redgrave
    July 02, 2013 - 06:42

    What John is trying to say has very little to do with bureaucratic SAR policy and more to do with good old fashion civic planning for worker safety. The systems are so simple to build yet so hard to get approval and funding it's ridiculous. I remember Ocean Ranger. This will happen again if all parties don't get together and put the great ideas into practical use as standard, mandatory equipment suitable to the situation. There are dozens of brilliant ideas for catasrophic failures of all description that are not being used or implimented. As john said ---the buck keeps on being passed around. If the average person were to see what is on the drawing board for safety at sea and in the air, their first impression would be "why aren't we using this "!!. I'm behind Paul Johnson 100%

  • Ron Tizzard
    June 30, 2013 - 07:17

    Point made, Corporate Psycho. Now are you prepared to do something 'positive' to change things...or, are you just available as a lurking, empty critic! And, I very much remember Burton Wintes, and have long ago shared my voice concerning related SAR mandates. Share, copy here what you have independently sent off to the Feds re: SAR matters; re: Burton Wintes.

  • Corporate Psycho
    June 29, 2013 - 13:08

    Seems to me it's your federal conservatives are the ones who ignore their SAR responsibilities. Remember Burton Winters?