February 7, 2012
OTTAWA – New Democrat M.P. Jack Harris (St. John’s East) is calling for an full investigation into the two day delayed deployment of a Canadian Forces search and rescue team after being alerted about a missing 14 year old boy in Makkovik, Labrador.
“When I raised this matter in the House of Commons last week, the Associate Minister for Defence responded that he had asked for an investigation,” said Harris. “On Friday, the Department of National Defence’s press conference left us with more questions than answers on a serious matter of life and death. The family, the community and Canadians want to know what happened and we all want action to avoid another tragedy like this. ”
Statements made by the RCMP members who worked on the case contradict the impression given by the Joint Task Force Atlantic on Friday. According to the RCMP, they requested a helicopter but were told that the choppers at Gander and Goose Bay were unavailable. Also, despite weather issues, civilian helicopters were flying, while Canadian Forces search and rescue helicopters were not.
“Clearly we aren’t getting the complete picture here,” said Harris. “A full investigation into this incident is needed. Furthermore, we need a standard SAR response time that matches international standards and right now we lag far behind.”
Harris has been raising concerns about Canada’s unacceptable search and rescue response time over the past several years. The NDP’s commitment to improving the search and rescue response time was also included in the party’s 2011 election platform.