The controversy over the proposed closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base and funding cuts continues to dog the federal Conservatives — and rightly so.
The decision, announced in May, did not sit well with anyone. Politicians from the two opposition parties were quick to condemn the action, as were municipal politicians in Vancouver. Retired Coast Guard personnel also jumped into the fray, saying that closing the base could put people at risk, as adequate resources would no longer be available.
In the past week, a new poll conducted by strategic communications and reported by Global News found that 86 per cent of British Columbians were opposed to the closure.
But according to the same Global News report, even if B.C. Tory MPs are worried about the results, they can’t be held accountable by their constituents because they are not allowed to talk about it.
That’s right — when several Tory MPs returned to their ridings during the summer and were pressed by the media on the issue, no one gave a straight answer. And those who did simply stated: “I think our government is on top of that.”
Seriously? On top of the issue? Give me a break.
Not only does Ottawa want to shut down the base, they also want to eliminate the Marine Communication Centre located at Harbour Centre. This communications hub monitors all vessel traffic in Burrard Inlet. If the Tories get their wish, this office would be moved to Victoria. Well, that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Monitor Vancouver waters from Victoria instead of monitoring Vancouver waters from Vancouver. Huh?
These decisions are shortsighted and foolhardy. To top it off, the consultation done in making this poor decision was virtually non-existent. And one of the major players in this, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR), was never part of the discussion.
In a statement posted on the RCMSAR website in May by president Randy Strandt, he said they were surprised to hear the announcements and were not consulted nor were they a part of any decision in this announcement.
“We do not know how these decisions will affect our operations. We continue to focus on our Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary-Pacific stations in 46 communities throughout B.C. Like the Canadian Coast Guard and its staff, our number one priority is public safety. We look forward to continuing to work with our Coast Guard colleagues in providing a world-class search and rescue system.”
I have many questions, but one of them is why was RCMSAR kept out of the loop? These dedicated volunteers monitor our waters day and night. We’re blessed to have three units here on the Sunshine Coast, in Gibsons, Halfmoon Bay and Pender Harbour. Without these volunteers, who knows what trouble would happen on the water? They provide an invaluable service and to not consult with them is a complete insult.
The bottom line is the Tories have totally dropped the ball on this issue. Consultation has been minimal if not non-existent, and when you try to get an answer out of a B.C. MP, they just are not talking. What a sad state of affairs.