I have been picking my way through the new Oceans Protection Plan that the PM put forth on Monday. (I was there at the press conferance. My sleeve touched his sleeve. I shook hands with the Transport Minister, we spoke about the Arctic. This country is increadable.) There's a lot of good news in the plan, although I'm not done studying it, yet. I wanted to share the promises for the North, here. See what you guys think.
I was surprised that Iqaluit's new deep sea port wasn't mentioned, nor was the port of Churchill. But here, anyway, is what it does say:
They're going to invest in arctic resupply. With the recent folding of NTCL, I wonder if this means that they're going to try to replace NTCL, if they're going to subsidize Desgagnes to expand their services, or if they're going to get some kind of new local co-op decentralized sea-lift system? There's not much of an indication about what it will look like, but I'm gratified to see that it's on the radar.
They're going to start up Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for the Arctic, including "up to" 8 new community response boats, and a seasonal inshore rescue boat station. Does "seasonal inshore" mean Hay River? This inshore station is said to be the first permanent S&R capacity in the north. About time, right? But it looks as though this "community boat program" is going to be implimented in BC first, starting next year, and will later be expanded into the Arctic. The CCG Aux's mandate (nationwide) is expanding to include pollution response under this plan, too. The CCG Auxiliary are amazing, I had one of theirs in my STCW class last spring. I'm really happy for them to expand their operations.
They're going to extend the season for the icebreaker fleet: they'll start sooner in the spring and finish later in the fall.
And finally to benefit oil spill monitoring, search and rescue, vessel monitoring and sovereignty they are going to improve the northern operations of the National Aerial Surveillance Program.
Everyone says the whole plan is going to cost CAD $1.5 billion. But what I've talked about here, is only the part of the plan that impacts the North directly. The plan is also has initiatives for the East (including the lakes and the St. Lawrence) and the West, and some federal-level things as well. I'm not a finance person, but this 1.5 number seems low to me.