I feel the need to clarify a statement that appeared in an opinion piece on July 10, “Shuffling the deck.”
In July of 2010, I left my vacation in Newfoundland and Labrador early to return to work and announce a $34-million contract in London, Ont. Concurrent with this decision was the opportunity to participate in a search and rescue familiarization flight. I had participated in such a flight following an announcement in Gander in 2009 and I knew that search and rescue teams were keen to demonstrate more of their abilities to me in my capacity as the lead minister for search and rescue.
Two Canadian Forces members who actually took part in the flight in question have been widely quoted in the media on the matter.
As Maj. (retired) Stephen Reid told iPolitics: “The flight would have been flown regardless of whether or not the minister was included because the squadron conducts two training events per day as part of a regular routine. In this case, a new flight engineer required hoist training, therefore the training intentions were well matched.”
As Warrant Officer Morgan Biderman was quoted by the Canadian Press: “The positive aspects of Minister MacKay becoming actively involved in our training and the absolute trust he puts in the personnel of the Air Force is what needs to be emphasized! If it has a spinoff benefit of transporting him/them, where they need to be, I consider it a win-win for all concerned!”
Our government remains fully committed to giving the men and women of the Canadian Forces the equipment that they need to do their important work, both safely and effectively.
I trust you and your readers will take these facts into consideration.
Minister of National Defence