Link The Coast
Rex Murphy, writing in The National Post is fully justified in his rant Saturday against more search and rescue cutbacks in Newfoundland by the Harper government. Since it involves his beloved “Rock,” my former colleague is at his rhetorical best (and as the northwest knows the BC coast faces equally dumb cutbacks here)
Scarcely had Mr. Harper captured the PM’s job again, this time as a
majority leader in the last election, when one of his ministers came out
with the equally ludicrous decision to move search-and-rescue
operations: Last week, it was announced that the co-ordination centre in
St. John’s (along with one in Quebec City) was slated for termination,
with services relocated to Halifax and Trenton, Ont.
And according to reports circulating this week, the Department of
National Defence’s search-and-rescue services might soon be privatized.
(Currently, the job is done in partnership between DND and the Coast
Guard, which is overseen by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans). If
that happens, there’s no telling where the services would be relocated.
What is in the air in Ottawa? How do such absurd notions take root in
the federal mind? Would they ever take similar steps in regard to, say,
the regulation of Lake Ontario shipping?
Search and Rescue is not some toy service. It concerns life and
death. And considering the tragedies that fret the history of the
province over the centuries, this would not only be a wrong decision,
but an offensive one, as well.
Rex is certainly right on this issue, but wrong about the weather, when he says about Newfoundland being special:
Newfoundland is unique. It stands alone, shrouded in impenetrable mists and answering to the rhythms of its own weather gods. Newfoundland weather is not a little like the world of subatomic physics; a buzz of random and paradoxical probabilities, a thing that may be observed but not measured or, contrariwise, measured but not observed, and not either, ever, from Halifax. It is a wonder and a despair.
The weather along the BC coast has been shrouded in impenetrable mists for most of this summer (if you can call it summer).
The decision by Coast Guard bureaucrats to replace the (70 foot, 21 metre) Point Henry in Prince Rupert with a smaller, (47 foot, 14 metre) open motor life boat and the similar move in Campbell River replace the Point Race was protested up and down the coast, and almost cost Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan his seat in the May election. Duncan, of course, is toeing the Conservative party line now that he is safely back in the Commons.
The decisions on both coasts are equally dumb. The ocean is as dangerous in Newfoundland as on the BC coast.
But Rex spoils his rant with his own dumb ideological conclusion:
My only explanation is that it serves to illustrate this unshakeable
axiom: Some decisions are so dumb that only governments can make them.
Northwest BC has had been the victim of many really dumb decisions by the private, corporate sector over the years and those dumb decisions are responsible for the economic decline of the region (with no help from government). The difference should be that government decisions may be influenced and changed by the electorate. There are no checks or balances on corporate decisions.
So if Rex is right and search and rescue is privatized, becomes some sort of for-profit venture, what dumb decisions are we going to hear from the CEO of SARCAN LLC? Checking someone’s credit score before launching a rescue?