New Democrats win delay on lighthouse de-staffing

Minister reverses decision, announces full review

OTTAWA – Responding to calls from New Democrats and pressure from citizens, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea yesterday backed down from government plans to de-staff lighthouses on Canada’s East and West Coasts.

North Coast MP Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) has worked with MPs of all parties to demand a reversal of the Coast Guard decision.

“We’ve been getting dozens of calls from constituents and lightkeepers, in and out of marine communities, outraged at the short-sighted plan to de-staff lighthouses,” said Cullen. “I’m glad the government has finally listened to Canadians and backed down under this pressure.”

While yesterday’s announcement falls short of the complete reversal sought by New Democrats and coastal Canadians, no lighthouses will be de-staffed while further review is undertaken.

“The complete lack of prior consultation with coastal communities was typical of this government,” said Cullen. “It’s astounding that it takes a backlash before they agree to talk to the people affected.”

Lightkeepers provide many benefits, including search and rescue, distress calls, security presence on coastlines, pollution prevention and control, and liaising with RCMP and other federal departments. 

“Once the minister actually talks to coastal residents, she will realize these critical services cannot be replaced with automated equipment,” said Cullen.

“Now it’s time for the minister to honour her promise and consult with North Coast fishermen about the crisis facing our salmon stocks.”

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