Monday, April 23, 2018

Vance: No plan for CAF in Churchill

By: Dylan Robertson, The Winnipeg Free Press

OTTAWA — The head of the military says there is no role for soldiers in Churchill, adding a "wistfulness" is behind a call to station soldiers at Manitoba’s only seaport.

DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE</p><p>The Canadian Rangers will get help from a refuelling site in Nanisivik, Nunavut (above), when it opens later this year.</p></p>
The Canadian Rangers will get help from a refueling site in Nanisivik, Nunavut (above), when it opens later this year.
"I don’t have a military task in Churchill," chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance told the Senate defence committee last week.

Churchill’s town council has named government services as one of five areas to pursue to bolster the northern town’s economy, including suggesting an increased role for the military. The town of 900 used to house more than 6,000 people, largely driven by Cold War-era rocket testing by American and Canadian troops.
Related image
Remnants of the Churchill Rocket Research Range which was operated by the USAF and CAF during the Cold War. The range ceased operations in 1985. 
The town, located 1,600 kilometres north of Winnipeg, had its land link cut when the rail line was flooded out and damaged last May. Prices for necessities such as food and fuel have soared and families have moved away.

Vance said he is not aware of any plan to station soldiers in Churchill. He also doesn’t see the wisdom in such a move. "Sometimes, there’s a wistfulness there, that Churchill doesn’t have a military base or that somehow we should be there more," he said.

He described the question that governments and the military have to consider: "What does the government need to get done up there, and how much military do you need to do that at any point in time?"

Vance said the military’s role in the Arctic is to conduct search-and-rescue operations and ward off foreign encroachment. The Canadian Rangers operate patrol vessels in the North and take part in NORAD missile defence. He said a naval refuelling site in Nanisivik, Nunavut, will help when it opens this year.

"From a military perspective, there is a certain posture that we need to take to get the job done. I think we’re at that posture," he said. "We have tremendous capacity to sense what’s coming into the Arctic."

Vance was responding to questions from Manitoba Sen. Marilou McPhedran, who asked about a media report on how Canada’s army and navy presence in the town has withered, to the point of leaving only "wind-hollowed remains of a large military base" and centuries-old fortifications.

Meanwhile, NDP MP Niki Ashton, who represents northern Manitoba, raised Churchill’s railway crisis in the House of Commons Thursday.

"People in Churchill are facing skyrocketing food prices. They are going hungry because of the kind of policies and incompetence of the government that has led to the loss of the rail service," Ashton said.

No comments:

Post a Comment