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Duncan trumpets lightkeeper retention, stands ground on Point Race replacement

Incumbent MP and Conservative candidate John Duncan reflected on his legacy during the opening of his Campbell River campaign office on Friday.

“I think back to 1993 when I was first elected,” Duncan said. “The party I represented – the Reform Party – said we needed a place at the table. The West was not properly represented.

“I am actually very proud of that heritage.”

From there, Duncan and the party (after merging with the Progressive Conservatives) has evolved from third party status, to opposition, to forming the government.

“That legacy, that history is unique in Canada,” Duncan said.

“I have been part of all of this...we have gone from basically a strong voice in Ottawa to a region and a province in Canada that’s at the centre of new ideas.”

Being in government has changed things for Duncan, providing him with more resources to enact change.

“In opposition, I often felt like a one-armed paper hanger,” Duncan said. “Now I have people who can do things.”

Duncan cited the lighthouse destaffing issue that first arose in 1990 as an example.

“It was  a really political battle,” he said.

They thought they had it won but it came back.

“This time the light station issue became one that was resolved through collaboration with my peers who are obviously more in the government and in cabinet.”

Previous governments did not consult with British Columbia, Duncan added.

“We’re now very much taken seriously and our needs are very much being heard,” he said.

On another coastal issue that the government stood fast on – replacing the Coast Guard Cutter Point Race with a smaller K Class vesssel that has been criticized by mariners on the West Coast, Duncan was convinced that the government’s position was the right one.

“That boat has served very, very well,” Duncan said.

It was first slated for replacement in 1998 and Duncan was involved in the fight to retain it.

“It’s now 13 years later, the boat is almost 30 years old,” Duncan said.

In that time there has been criticism from the auditor general concerned about the Coast Guard’s aging fleet and  a lack of investement in it.

The Point Race replacement is part of a revitalization plan that is to include standardization of the fleet.

“The world was searched for an appropriate model,” Duncan said. “The K Class 47-footer was viewed as the boat that could address all of the needs.

“I also recognize that this is a very emotional issue for people,” he added. “I do believe that the K Class is the right vessel.

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