Unions to target Conservative MPs with narrow election wins over Coast
VANCOUVER, Dec. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Conservative cabinet minister John
Duncan could lose his seat over federal government plans to close
Canadian Coast Guard stations and communications centres in BC, an
exclusive new poll in his Vancouver Island North riding shows.
And unions representing Coast Guard workers say things will only get
worse for BC Conservative MPs if they refuse to listen to public
opinion opposing closures.
The poll of 648 voters in Duncan's riding found that 79% oppose the
planned closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and Marine
Communications & Traffic Services centres in Vancouver, Comox and
Tofino that direct and monitor vessels, with 64% strongly disagreeing
with the government decision. The Comox centre is in Duncan's own
And 76% of those polled by national research firm Strategic
Communications say Duncan's support for Coast Guard closures makes them
less likely to vote for him and his party in the next election, with
62% saying his position makes it much less likely.
Opposition to the closures includes 73% of voters who say they supported
Duncan in the 2011 federal election.
"The writing is on the wall for every Conservative Member of Parliament
who supports closing needed Canadian Coast Guard stations and centres
in BC," says Dave Clark, Union of Canadian Transportation Employees BC
Regional Vice-President, representing workers at the Kitsilano
Station. "Voters will punish them for making a foolish decision and
Coast Guard workers will make sure they know who shut down emergency
search and rescue services."
The poll of Vancouver Island North riding voting age residents should be
seen by Conservatives as the canary in the coal mine - a big warning -
says Allan Hughes, Regional Director of Canadian Auto Workers Local
2182, representing Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications Officers.
"Voters in Vancouver Island North know how important their Marine
Communications & Traffic Services centre in Comox is in coordinating
Coast Guard search and rescue operations and safely directing vessel
traffic at sea," Hughes said from Comox. "To shut down such vital
services in Comox, in Vancouver and in Tofino and attempt to run them
remotely with cameras and radar is a recipe for maritime disasters."
"A Senate Committee has already halted de-staffing of light stations, as
they provide vital weather observations, yet Minister Duncan seems to
think the weather observations done by the Comox and Ucluelet centres
aren't as valuable," Hughes added.
The federal government plan to close Coast Guard stations and centres
despite huge opposition is a sad indication of Conservative priorities,
says Bob Jackson, B.C. Regional Executive Vice-President of the Public
Service Alliance of Canada. [UCTE is a component union of PSAC]
"We are seeing the dismantling of needed public services right in front
of our eyes despite the best evidence that lives will be lost," says
Jackson. "The Coast Guard, just like food inspectors, border guards
and other federal workers, protects Canadians but the government just
BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair warned that while voters
will hold all 21 Conservative MPs accountable for Coast Guard closures,
those who won close election battles in 2011 will be particularly
targeted next time.
"John Duncan won by less than 1,900 votes in Vancouver Island North and
Wai Young won by less than 4,000 votes in Vancouver South - those are
the kind of ridings where we will make sure every voter knows
Conservatives cut the Coast Guard," said Sinclair.
Clark also noted that the poll found 55% of respondents do not believe
existing Coast Guard search and rescue services were adequate before
the cuts and that 77% are aware of the planned closures.
The government has announced the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station will be
closed in early 2013, leaving all rescues to the Sea Island Coast Guard
station in Richmond, 17 nautical miles away or to volunteers.
The federal government is also closing Canadian Coast Guard Marine
Communications & Traffic Service centres in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino
that direct and monitor tanker, freighter, cruise ship, tugboat,
pleasure craft and all other vessel traffic in the Port.
The automated telephone poll surveyed 648 voters in Vancouver Island
North from October 26-28, with a margin of error of +/- 3.8%, 19 times
out of 20.
The poll is available upon request or online at: http://psacbc.com/vi-north and http://www.caw.ca/en/11662.htm
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveKitsBase
CAW 2182 website: http://www.2182.ca/en/index.html
SOURCE: CAW Local 2182
For further information:
Dave Clark at cell 778-322-2611; Allan Hughes at cell 250-703-6401; Patrick Bragg, PSAC, at cell 778-889-3486; Michael Gardiner, BC Fed, at cell 778-836-2108; or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964.