James Lunney and the coast guard

The Conservative MP for Nanaimo-Alberni is unimpressed with planned cuts to the coast guard on the West Coast. And he blames “bureaucrats in Ottawa” for the decisions.

The NDP’s Fin Donnelly, who pressed the Fisheries Minister about the Kitsilano station last month, mocked Mr. Lunney in the House yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some denial on that side of the House about the implications of Bill C-38. Last Thursday, on a local radio station, the member for Nanaimo—Alberni lamented the closure of the Ucluelet communications centre and the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. However, Instead of taking responsibility, the member blamed “bureaucrats in Ottawa” for these closures. Ironically, he made these remarks less than 12 hours after he voted on the Trojan Horse budget bill, the very bill shutting down these stations.

When government MPs cut services in Ottawa, they should at least have the courage of their conviction to defend them at home. However, Bill C-38 represents more than just cuts to Coast Guard services, cuts to OAS and cuts to health care. It represents the erosion of the once strong and independent voices of Conservative MPs. As we approach the end of the session, I am hopeful more Conservative MPs find their riding voice and speak out against these cuts. Maybe one day, with some practice, they will be able to use that voice in Ottawa.

Last night, Mr. Lunney issued a statement explaining his position.

In recent weeks, I have met with responsible authorities in Ottawa and written suggesting more workable solutions.  I trust the public uproar has helped underscore my concerns and I remain hopeful that a more promising solution can be embraced for coastal BC.

Update 12:28pm. The office of Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield writes to say the coast guard changes are not part of C-38. I am trying to ascertain the correct origin of the changes and will report back when that is clarified.

Update 3:55pm. Minister Ashfield’s office clarifies that the cuts are part of the spending review laid out in Budget 2012, but the cuts themselves are not included in the budget bill.