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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Labrador Mayor Fighting for Town's Future

The Mayor of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Leo Abbass, has made his case for 5 Wing Goose Bay at the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress during their annual meeting held in Fredericton.

Mr. Abbass won unanimous support from the Congress for his decision to pressure the federal government on living up to its commitment for the air base in the community. Mr. Abbass would like the federal government to do what they said they would two elections ago and make the base an operational military requirement going forward.

During the 2006 federal election (that’s right, 2006, not 2008) Stephen Harper promised in writing that his government would station a rapid response battalion as well as other resources at the strategically located base. Since that time both the Prime Minister and his successive Ministers of Defense, the most recent being Peter MacKay, have ducked any questions on their true intentions for the future of 5 Wing and continue to repeat when asked, that the future of the base will be addressed “at a later time”.

During the 2006 campaign while trolling for votes in Newfoundland and Labrador Mr. Harper spelled out in his election literature and in a letter to the Premier of the province, among several other promises that have not been delivered on or broken outright, that the future of 5 Wing would be guaranteed and that the battalion would be posted there if he were elected.

Considering that the Conservatives led the government for more than two years after making that promise and since then another election has been fought, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Mayor Abbass is more than a little frustrated with a situation that so deeply impacts the future of the base and his community, a situation around which all discussion is being avoided like the plague by members of the Conservative government.

It’s doubtful that the limited power inherent in the combined weight of the Atlantic Mayors will do much to shift the federal agenda but at least they are backing Mr. Abbass who is willing to stand up and be heard. That’s really all anyone can ask of him or the Congress.

It remains to be seen if even a single Conservative MP elected in Atlantic Canada will have the backbone to listen to the constituent’s wishes and to do the same inside their caucus.

If history is any example, finding an MP with a backbone inside the Conservative party will about as easy as finding a visible minority at a Ku Klux Klan meeting.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Fear not. All is not lost. The Defense Minister is Labrador's Cabinet representative. 5 Wing commitments are now a given.