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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sajjan: Military SAR won’t be Privatized

In what appears to be one of the fastes turn-around's in defence policy - less than 24 hours after the Liberal Defence Review announced that it would consider privatizing Search and Rescue (SAR) in Canada - Defence Minister Sajjan told the House of Commons yesterday; that no - SAR will not be privatized; as the CAF plays too critical a role in SAR in Canada. 

Here is Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen |article: 

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan “The Canadian Armed Forces play a critical role in search and rescue,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told the House of Commons on Tuesday.
OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has headed off a potentially divisive debate by declaring the Liberal government will not privatize military search and rescue.

Sajjan made the comments Tuesday in response to an NDP question, after the Citizen revealed that the government’s defence review included questions about whether there were “alternatives” to having the military conduct search and rescue missions.

“The previous government might have been looking at privatizing search and rescue,” Sajjan told the House of Commons. “But I can assure the member that this government is not, because the Canadian Armed Forces play a critical role in search and rescue.”

Sajjan said last week everything was on the table as he launched consultations with the public, parliamentarians and defence experts on how the military should be structured for the future.

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The government released a 36-page document asking for feedback on what the military should — and should not — be doing. One section focuses on the military’s role in search and rescue, and asks if there are “models for alternative service delivery that could be explored.”

“Given the range of other actors engaged in this activity and the small proportion of rescues that require CAF assets,” the document reads, “a valid question is: what role should the CAF have in search and rescue?”

The Liberals have said their goal for the defence review is a “leaner, more agile” military that is better able to respond to the challenges facing Canada, but others fear the review is intended to identify ways the government can cut costs. The review is expected to culminate in a new defence policy in early 2017.

The previous Conservative government raised the idea of privatizing military search and rescue five years ago, before letting it die amid a public outcry. Liberal MP Judy Foote was among those who said she was “appalled” by the idea.

Foote, who hails from Newfoundland and Labrador, is now the minister of public services and procurement, which oversees military equipment purchases. Her department is managing a $3.1-billion project to replace the air force’s ancient search-and-rescue planes.