On Dec. 18, 2013, the news came down from Ottawa that the marine rescue sub-centre in Quebec, which had been given a one year reprieve, would now stay open, and the reason given is because they could not get enough bilingual people to fill the joint rescue centre in Halifax. The sub-centre in St. John’s would remain closed.
I don’t think that was a surprise to anyone in this province. The province of Quebec is very important to the federal government because of the large number of seats and, in most cases, it decides who rules Canada. For that reason, it is able to get more favours from the federal government than a smaller province like Newfoundland and Labrador.
The other reason — and the one I believe is the main one — is that former premier Danny Williams got into a tantrum with Stephen Harper a few years ago and came up with the ABC campaign.
Williams not only campaigned in this province, but across Canada as well, and for two elections we have only briefly had a member on the government side. For that, we are still getting punished. In all fairness to Mr. Williams, if he had been captain at the helm when this happened we would not have given up without a fight.
We are an island stuck out in the North Atlantic Ocean, which has some of the worst weather in the world.
We have a large portion of our people getting a living from the ocean and Ottawa is continuing to downgrade our marine rescue services by closing the very important Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s — and now is planning on closing the majority of our very important marine radio stations.
We have a helicopter service in Gander which is run by the Department of National Defence and that is only staffed in banker’s hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., five days a week, and is on-call for service the remainder of the time, taking up to two hours to get airborne — quite a long time when someone is in trouble in the frigid North Atlantic.
We have a marine rescue service in this province that is only equal to Third World countries and we have a provincial government that is silent on this very important issue.
It’s time for the people of this province to speak out.
(Ret.) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett
Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary
Green Bay South