Liberal M.P. Yvonne Jones was not long getting down to business in the House of Commons.
On her first day in the big house, she asked her first questions about the Federal Government's lack of commitment to Search and Rescue in the province In particular, she spoke to the incident last month when neither of the three Griffon helicopters based at Happy Valley-Goose Bay was available to respond to an emergency that claimed the life of Innu leader Joseph Riche.
Right on script, Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the associate minister of defence, denied the allegation.
Downgrading of SAR resources in this province is an issue of great concern. What concerns me most is that our Premier appears to have linked enhanced, or restored, SAR resources to agreeing to the proposed Canada-Europe Free Trade Agreement.
The Premier appears to be looking for a quid pro quo in return for concessions on protection quotas of Newfoundland and Labrador fish. After she leaked her "alleged" discontent with the Federal Conservatives at the Board of Trade over a quid pro quo deal for the Muskrat Fall's Loan Guarantee, she seemed to brag about the fact that the province, not the feds, had put SAR on the the free trade bargaining table.
Frankly, I think that is ridiculous that our Premier is even negotiating SAR. There is a need for better assets and resources, or there is not. It is not a political issue, it is matter of life and death. It is a matter of fulfilling a commitment to protect residents of a large geographical region when mishaps occur.
When Canada's Auditor General raises concerns about the the state of
readiness of the air and marine search and rescue resource, it is not political. Thousands of our residents rely on the critical SAR services.
Offering a concession to get what we deserve in terms of search and rescue coverage is a sign of weakness.