Kent demands beefed-up SAR from Ottawa

James
James McLeod
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Upset Quebec sub-station staying open while St. John's facility closed last year

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Kent called the media to Confederation Building this afternoon to once again call on the federal government to improve search and rescue services in the province.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Kent called on the federal government to improve search and rescue services

Kent was reacting to the announcement that the Quebec marine search and rescue co-ordination sub-centre will stay open, even as the St. John's office was closed in 2012.

He told reporters that he's written a letter to his federal counterpart, and he's demanding beefed up SAR resources.

“I think it makes great sense for the federal government to take action now as they’ve done in the case of the Marine Rescue sub Centre in Quebec,” he said. “We need more resources here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The work that used to be done by the sub-centre in St. John’s is now done out of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax, which tasks air and sea resources.

Kent acknowleged that he knows of no incident since the St. John’s sub-centre closed in 2012 where anybody on the water was put at risk because of the change, but he said that didn’t matter.

“One incident would be too many,” he said.

He said that if the Quebec sub-centre was kept open because of linguistic issues, then the St. John’s centre should be open for the same reason.

“We have unique language ourselves,” he said. “I’m not suggesting they’re the same, but I would argue that we have linguistic challenges here in Newfoundland and Labrador as well.”

On top of re-opening the sub-centre, Kent said he’s calling on the federal government to add planes, helicopters, personnel and 24-hour support for search and rescue services in the province.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramJames

Geographic location: Quebec, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • rob taylor
    December 20, 2013 - 09:31

    Where are all those overpaid feredal politicians anyway. The only one I heard anything from was Jack Harris. I guess Gerry Byrne is too busy talking about STD and where is the new MP from Labrador. Not a peep. Maybe our honorable senators can barff out a few words.

  • original townie
    December 20, 2013 - 07:39

    So Minister Kent wrote a letter to Ottawa demanding SAR be reopened in NL. I guess the Feds are trembling in their boots for sure now. I can see them reacting upon receiving a demand letter from him. That guy is so lost and naive. When he got a cabinet post Kathy must have been out of options. After 2015 Steve there is always the Boy Scouts to fall back on.

  • darren
    December 20, 2013 - 07:13

    Steve: I really, really, really hope you get turfed next election because you may have the support of "caucus", but that's all you got. I was bred, born and raised in NL, but I can't support that stupid dialect thing you and Jack are going on about, really? That's your reason you are giving the feds for reopening SJ's sub-centre? That is just sad.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    December 20, 2013 - 07:13

    Now that the loan guarantee has been signed of on ..............

  • Jack
    December 20, 2013 - 07:07

    This is another example of the feds appeasing Quebec at the expense of NL. How easy we forget the kerfuffle over Quebec threatening to separate and the scrambling of the Liberal federal government to appease them. Quebec is quick to use their leverage at every opportunity both openly and behind the scenes to get their way. Another reason to build a powerline around them to move our electricity to market. If we depended on going through Quebec they would find some way to stop us or gouge us. Muskrat Falls may be expensive in some ways but well worth the money in avoiding having to deal with Quebec and their "unique" status.

  • Ben
    December 20, 2013 - 01:18

    Dolf b'y that's probably the reason we are getting shafted by the Feds. Like the old saying 'u reep what u sow'.

  • Corporate Psycho
    December 19, 2013 - 19:23

    So he written a letter? Who the heck is advising this Premier? She puts Kent on the case? Good Lord. RIP Burton Winters. Some of us haven't forgotten.

  • Ger
    December 19, 2013 - 17:05

    Steve, where were you and your government when this was initially announced ? No where to be found!!!!!

    • Ken Collis
      December 20, 2013 - 09:10

      In all fairness, the premier even offered to have the province pay the expense of keeping the sub-centre open. I must say I was impressed with her handling of that particular issue.

  • Len LeRiche
    December 19, 2013 - 15:09

    As someone after spending over 20 years in Emergency Management/Preparedness watching the political ball bounce back and forth is a huge disappointment. Since 1995 we worked hard to build a capacity to respond to the SAR needs in NL and around our thousands of miles of coastline. Sadly, our political masters lack the capacity to challenge the decision and it's only when it is pointed out that for some reason one province is favored over another do we decide to push back. By now we should have done something about it - if nothing else let's do it ourselves. I know it is a Federal responsibility however, if they are not willing to help us take responsibility for our safety no one can do it better than we can.

  • Harold
    December 19, 2013 - 14:45

    whenever I see the letters SAR I think of a 14 year old boy who was left alone to freeze to death on the ice in Labrador. RIP Burton Winters.

    • Perry
      December 20, 2013 - 19:29

      That was a tragedy indeed....but ground search and rescue is a provincial responsibility not federal. The Military handles air and boats, something that is frequently misrepresented by the provinces.

  • Dolf
    December 19, 2013 - 14:18

    Stevie b'y, pull down the flags, payback to the guy who did it beforen and gave you your job too.