Liberals on fisheries committee turn their backs on BC coastal communities

OTTAWA, May 6, 2016 /CNW/ - Rather than take a principled position to protect BC's sensitive coast, Liberal MPs Scott Simms, Pat Finnigan, Ken Hardie, Bernadette Jordan, Ken McDonald, and Robert Morrissey have supported the controversial closing of the coast guard communication centre in Comox.

"Marine safety was sacrificed for partisan politics today," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director. "Committee members heard compelling testimony from experts and frontline coast guard workers about the dangers associated with closing the Comox centre, but that was all ignored for caucus discipline."

After choosing to study the closure and calling several witnesses throughout the spring, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) tabled a report Friday backing Minister Tootoo's decision to implement the Harper government's closure order for the Marine Communication and Traffic Service centre (MCTS) in Comox. Only FOPO member Fin Donnelly (NDP, Port Moody—Coquitlam) dissented.

"Closing ranks instead of taking a stand for Canadians on the coast is shameful," said Warnock. "I expect better from the new government and we'll be contacting other Liberals in the BC caucus like Hedy Fry and Pamela Goldsmith-Jones to see if they can help protect our coast."

On April 29, BC Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto sent a letter to fisheries Minister Tootoo expressing doubt about the closure. A petition has gone viral and collected more than 16,000 signatures.

By monitoring traffic, MCTS centres are the first line of defense for mariners in distress or when an ecological disaster strikes. Over the last two years 9 of the 22 MCTS Centres were closed without consulting industry, mariners, the public, or coast guard officers.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.


For further information: Please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549 (cell) or

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