Is Duncan headed for a dunkin'?
BY DAN MACLENNAN, COURIER-ISLANDER
FEBRUARY 25, 2011
What good is a cabinet minister MP if he won't speak out on behalf of his constituents?That's what some, including New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley), are wonderingabout Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan and his virtual silence on the Point Race replacementissue."I thought the whole pitch they made was 'put them into government and then you'll have some realinfluence in Ottawa,'" Cullen told the Courier-Islander. "This is the opposite. The North Islandsomehow has less influence even though they have a minister sitting at the cabinet table, right to theright-hand side of the Fisheries Minister."This is offensive. It's a serious (safety) downgrade and the silence from the minister is deafening. Heunderstands this issue. He can't plead ignorance and this is a decision that's going to put more livesat risk."With the 70-foot Coast Guard cutters Point Race in Campbell River and Point Henry in Prince Rupertslated to be replaced by smaller 47-foot motor lifeboats, old battle lines have been drawn again.Cullen is fighting to save the Point Henry and publicly wondering why Duncan isn't doing the same for the Point Race. As an MP in opposition, Duncan had been among those defending the cutter in 2005,saying "the Coast Guard initiative would retire excellent condition and highly appropriate and capable70-foot boats with less capable 47-foot lifeboats in order to try to save two man-years."At the time, Duncan even warned the Liberal Fisheries Minister about the possible electionconsequences of such a move.But Duncan's response to the latest replacement plan has been markedly different. His first responseto inquiries from the Courier-Islander in December was to say through his press secretary "thisdecision is one that will be taken by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans I would encourage youto contact them directly."Another attempt to gain comment from Duncan brought a brief, prepared response in January wherethe MP spoke of the cutter in the past tense."The Point Race has served our region very well," he said. "Fleet renewal and standardization is anational imperative of the Coast Guard."Cullen hopes Duncan "comes to his senses" because lives are at stake."John knows this issue," he said. "If he was vocal on it in opposition, he should be equally as vocal onit in government."It seems like a no-brainer to me. It's not even political in the sense of right wing or left wing. It's just
2011-02-26 Is Duncan headed for a dunkin'?www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=… 1/2