Cen­tre’s clo­sure will put mariners in peril

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - Edi­tor’s note: The fol­low­ing letter was sent to Fish­eries and Oceans Min­is­ter Keith Ash­field, and copied to The Com­pass.

As a strong sup­porter of your gov­ern­ment, it is with great re­gret that I have to write this letter crit­i­ciz­ing your re­cent de­ci­sion to close the Marine Res­cue Cen­tre in St. John’s. As a for­mer sea cap­tain and a per­son who spends a fair amount of time on the ocean, I know full well the dan­gers that oc­cur around our shores.

As a vol­un­teer mem­ber for 30plus years with the Cana­dian Coast Guard Aux­il­iary, I have had many con­tacts with the Marine Res­cue Cen­tre in St. John’s and have con­sid­ered them as mem­bers of my fam­ily.

We al­ready have a sub­stan­dard search and res­cue on the north­east coast of Canada be­cause of the bankers hours that the Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense pro­vides with the he­li­copters in Gan­der, where for 16 hours a day they have a two-hour re­sponse time and for that rea­son we have lost many lives un­nec­es­sar­ily to the ocean. When you are in dan­ger on the ocean one minute could be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

By clos­ing the Marine Res­cue Cen­tre in St. John’s, you will only put our mariners in greater peril.

I am fully be­hind your gov­ern­ment in get­ting the debt re­duced (we have to) but there are many other un­nec­es­sary pro­grams that can be cut. I am im­plor­ing you to re­verse this de­ci­sion so that when we are on the ocean and get in trou­ble we will have the com­fort of know­ing that when a call goes out we will be talk­ing to some­one who knows the con­di­tions of the sea and the coast­lines where we are lo­cated. Wil­fred Bartlett


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