Senate call for staffed lighthouses must be heeded

SMITHERS Today’s Senate committee recommendation to halt the destaffing of Canada’s lighthouses echoes the cry of thousands of Canadians and must be heeded, MP Nathan Cullen said today.

“The strength of the unanimous Senate recommendation coupled with the overwhelming public support for staffed lighthouses on both coasts provides a clear beacon to the government,” Cullen said.

“Canadians have told the government, and now the Senate, loud and clear that it’s hands off our lighthouses.

“Lightkeepers are the eyes and ears of our coastlines.  They can be the difference between life and death.”

Today’s report from the Senate committee that travelled to two province to study lighthouse operations recommends Ottawa continue staffing the facilities for now and make future staffing decisions on a case-by-case basis.  The Committee visited Prince Rupert in September.

Last year, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea was forced to reverse plans to de-staff 27 lightstations on the West Coast and nine on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador amid fierce public criticism and intense opposition by Cullen and the federal New Democrats.

Cullen points out that in addition to assisting with search and rescue and distress calls, lightkeepers also perform pollution prevention and control duties and provide an important security presence on Canada’s coastlines