OTTAWA – New Democrat National Defence Critic, Jack Harris (St. John’s East) is urging the Conservative government to reverse its decision to close the St. John’s and Quebec search and rescue co-ordination centres and the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in Vancouver. These closures could lead to serious consequences and put lives at risk, says the NDP.
“Employees of these centres have major responsibilities in dealing with those who face danger at sea. Knowledge of local geography and dialect is critical to these life saving operations,” said Harris, noting that the closure of the only bilingual rescue centre in Quebec was particularly risky and that the Kitsilano station provides direct rescue services in Vancouver Harbour. “This is not the area that Conservatives should be cutting and outsourcing.”
Harris has tabled a motion calling on the Conservative Government to reverse its decision on the closures and recognize the importance of these local Coast Guard stations and search and rescue facilities before lives are lost.
“If these centres close the response times will be longer and when it is a matter of life and death that’s something we just can’t risk,” said Harris. “I urge all members of parliament to vote in favour of this motion and show that these centres need to be kept open. It’s an opportunity for the Conservatives to change their minds in light of the dangers and the objections from the affected communities.”
The text of the NDP motion to be debated this afternoon is as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government must recognize that saving lives is the top priority for Coast Guard search and rescue services, and that local service and knowledge, as well as the ability to communicate in the language of the communities served, are essential to delivering effective and timely life-saving operations and, therefore, must reverse the decisions to close the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centers in St. John’s and Quebec City and the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in Vancouver.