Canada CG Asked to Expand Security Role

Friday, April 02, 2004
Mr. Tom Wappel, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, tabled today in the House of Commons the Committee’s unanimous report on the Canadian Coast Guard. The report entitled Safe, Secure, Sovereign: Reinventing the Canadian Coast Guard makes 18 recommendations for the government to overhaul the organization with a series of significant changes, including an expansion of its mandate.

“The Coast Guard has been chronically underfunded and has never had the resources to fully meet the goals it was intended to attain,” said Mr. Wappel. “The set of recommendations contained in this unanimous report will bring a radical change to this state of things,” added Mr. Wappel.

“If the recommendations of this report are accepted and implemented, the result will be a viable and efficient Coast Guard,” said Mr. Loyola Hearn, the Fisheries and Oceans critic for the Official Opposition.

Among its recommendations, the Committee calls on the Government of Canada to expand the mandate of the Canadian Coast Guard to include national security with respect to Canada’s coasts, including the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Committee believes that a renewed Canadian Coast Guard, established as an independent civilian agency, would be best positioned to fulfill this expanded mandate. In addition the Committee recommends:

* Returning the responsibility for the Canadian Coast Guard to the Minister of Transport;

* A Coast Guard Act that would clearly set out the roles and responsibilities of the organization;

* An immediate financial commitment from the federal government for major fleet renewal and implementation of new technology; and

* That Coast Guard officers be designated as peace officers.

The Committee believes that its recommendations will help the federal government protect its environment, its resources and its sovereignty, while securing Canada’s coasts. Canada has a moral obligation and an economic incentive to do so.

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