Duncan vulnerable over Coast Guard closures

76 per cent say Duncan’s support for Coast Guard closures makes them less likely to vote for him

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan could lose his Vancouver Island North seat over his government’s plan to close Coast Guard stations and communications centres in B.C., a union-sponsored poll indicates.

The Strategic Communications telephone poll of 648 voters in Duncan’s riding was commissioned by the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees in late October. It found that 79 per cent oppose the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino that direct and monitor vessels.

Of those polled 64 per cent strongly disagree with the government decision and 76 per cent say Duncan’s support for Coast Guard closures makes them less likely to vote for him and his party in the next election. Opposition to the closures includes 73 per cent of voters who say they supported Duncan in the 2011 federal election.

Regardless, the minister stands by the government’s actions. “I want to assure you that decisions made by our government based on recommendations from experts at the Canadian Coast Guard are designed to protect the lives and livelihoods of Canadians. The Coast Guard will continue to use the same network of ships and responders on the Island to keep mariners safe in an emergency situation and the ongoing renewal of Coast Guard resources will make Vancouver Island a safer place to be on the water. The Island will continue to be served by the same network of search and rescue lifeboats,and two helicopters. “

Union of Canadian Transportation Employees B.C. Vice-President Dave Clark, who represents workers at the Kitsilano Station, says: “The writing is on the wall for every Conservative MP who supports closing needed Canadian Coast Guard stations and centres in B.C. Voters will punish them for making a foolish decision and Coast Guard workers will make sure they know who shut down emergency search and rescue services.”

The poll of Vancouver Island North riding voting age residents should be seen by Conservatives as “the canary in the coal mine,” says Allan Hughes, Regional Director of Canadian Auto Workers Local 2182 which represents Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers.

“Voters in Vancouver Island North know how important their Marine Communications and Traffic Services centre in Comox is in coordinating Coast Guard search and rescue operations and safely directing vessel traffic at sea. To shut down such vital services in Comox, in Vancouver and in Tofino and attempt to run them remotely with cameras and radar is a recipe for maritime disasters.”

BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair warns that while voters will hold all 21 Conservative MPs accountable for Coast Guard closures, those who won close election battles in 2011 will be targeted next time. “John Duncan won by less than 1,900 votes in Vancouver Island North. We will make sure every voter knows Conservatives cut the Coast Guard,” says Sinclair.

The government has announced the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station will be closed in early 2013, leaving all rescues to the Sea Island Coast Guard station in Richmond 17 nautical miles away.

Just Posted

Families learn to navigate the perils of the Internet

Speaker talks to Campbell River kids, parents about staying safe in a social media world

‘Priceless’ hat stolen from Indigenous art store in Campbell River during break-in

Ernie Smith, co-owner of Awatin Aboriginal Art, looking for help in recovering stolen hat

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

BC Hydro increasing flow down Elk Falls to assist steelhead migration and spawning

Water flows within Elk Falls Canyon are increasing today to assist steelhead… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could say the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read