Lunney asks for further review in coast guard cuts

Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP James Lunney says further review is needed before one Canadian Coast Guard base and three communication centres, particularly the marine communications traffic services base in Ucluelet, are cut from federal funding.

Lunney made the comments to Nanaimo's Wolf radio station on Thursday, adding he is concerned about his government's plans for the closures.

Lunney has been a strong supporter for coast guard services since first elected in 2000. He criticized the Liberal government in 2001 for cutting coast guard services at the time, arguing then they were an important asset in fighting terrorism.

"I've asked for a hold to be put on those changes because I'm particularly concerned about the changes out at (MCTS Tofino)," Lunney told the Wolf. "Because that monitors all the traffic coming into one of the busiest traffic lanes on the coast."

Lunney added that pulling 25 good jobs out of a small community creates problems for his constituents, and that the current location is the best to safeguard marine traffic along the coast.

"I think some of the decisions may have come from bureaucrats in Ottawa and we need a little more reflection," he said.

The changes were outlined as part of the cuts made in Bill C-38, the federal budget. In all, 10 of 22 coast guard communication centres across the country are scheduled to be closed over the next three years, along with the base in Vancouver's English Bay. Closing the base has drawn the most fire from critics, as it is arguably one of the busiest in Canada and boaters will, if it is closed, have to rely on help from the next closest base in Richmond, more than 20 minutes away.

Coast guard isn't Lunney's only subject he feels passionate about. He has also argued strongly in favour of natural health products and fighting to eliminate clostridium difficile in hospitals.

Lunney was in transit from Ottawa to Nanaimo Friday, one day after participating in a marathon 23 hours in the House voting on the budget. Just hours before that session, Lunney was in the House for 12 hours fulfilling his required House Duty.


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