Why did feds deny our own plane makers a chance to compete for contract?
Michael Byers & Stewart Webb, TheTyee.ca , 19 June 2012
Effective search-and-rescue requires reliable modern equipment. Yet Canada's "fixed-wing" search-and-rescue aircraft -- CC-115 Buffalos on the West Coast and CC-130 Hercules in Central, Atlantic and Arctic Canada -- are more than 45 years old.
When an Inuit boy named Burton Winters became lost in a blizzard on the sea-ice off Labrador in Jan. 2012, all three search-and-rescue Hercules in Atlantic Canada were unable to deploy for mechanical reasons.
Map of the North Warning System. Photograph by: Postmedia News, Canadian Military Journal/Department of Defence
BY ANDREW MAYEDA, POSTMEDIA NEWS JANUARY 13, 2011
OTTAWA — The Harper government has put on hold its search for bidders to operate and maintain the chain of early-warning radars that guards against foreign incursions into Canadian and U.S. airspace in the Far North, Postmedia News has learned.
The North Warning System, a chain of 47 unmanned radars that lines the Arctic coast from Alaska to Labrador, is operated and maintained by Nasittuq Corp. under a 10-year, $624-million contract that ends Sept. 30 this year.
A view of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent as it makes its way through the ice in Baffin Bay. An international agreement that divides the North into search-and-rescue regions comes as air and shipping traffic continues to grow in the Arctic. JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO
Bob Weber, The Canadian Press (Toronto Star, January 5, 2010)
The federal government is poised to sign an international treaty that will make Canada legally responsible for search and rescue in its part of the Arctic.
Northern experts say the deal, expected to be signed in May, could pressure Canada into upgrading its capabilities in the region. And, they add, it shows new resolve by the eight nations in the Arctic Council to show the rest of the world that they intend to set the rules for the uppermost reaches of the planet.
“By ratcheting up the capabilities of the Arctic Council, countries like the United States, Russia and Canada are essentially saying, ‘No, we have matters under control. We are making laws for this area. You can relax,’ ” said Michael Byers, an international law professor at the University of British Columbia who has written extensively on the Arctic.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, centre, walks in front of an F-35 fighter at the news conference where the government announced plans to buy 65 of the jets in one of the biggest arms deals in the nation's history.
Michael Byers, Toronto Star, August 30, 2010
Don Quixote is famous for attacking windmills that he imagines are giants. Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay have been tilting at make-believe enemies too, in the form of Russian planes in international airspace.
Last Wednesday, Harper’s communications director sent an email to journalists informing them that a pair of Tupolev TU-95 bombers had been intercepted by Canadian CF-18s some 30 nautical miles (56 kilometres) from our Arctic coastline.
“Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces,” Dimitri Soudas wrote, “at no time did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign Canadian airspace.”
Soudas was right about Canada’s airspace, which extends just 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) from shore. But he was wrong to suggest that the Russian bombers were headed there.
His efforts at sensationalism were quickly short-circuited by a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. “Both Russia and NORAD routinely exercise their capability to operate in the North,” Lt. Desmond James explained. “These exercises are important to both NORAD and Russia and are not cause for alarm.”
Mike Blanchfield, CanWest News Service, April 9, 2009
OTTAWA — Canada is reassured that Russia respects international law
in the North, but Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon still wants
Moscow to give advance notice of future flights close to the Canadian
Cannon's remarks indicate a lingering
antagonism between the Kremlin and Ottawa as he spoke for the first
time Thursday of his meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister
Russia's ambassador to Canada has said
politicians in Moscow are growing weary of sniping by Cannon and his
fellow ministers in the Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative
cabinet over what they see as provocative behaviour in the Arctic.
Mike Blanchfield, Canwest News Service, March 30, 2009
OTTAWA — The Kremlin is growing weary of some high-profile verbal
attacks on Russia by senior Harper cabinet ministers, but does not want
to bully Canada in the Arctic, Moscow's Canadian envoy said Monday.
Georgiy Mamedov said Moscow has no untoward military ambitions nor does
it plan any "outlandish power grab" in the Arctic.
A recent Arctic game of cat-and-mouse between Canada and Russia
highlights the politics behind the hunt for oil and who it belongs to,
writes Andrew Thomson for ISN Security Watch.
Andrew Thomson, ISN Security Watch, March 27, 2009
As Canada prepared to welcome Barack Obama for
his first trip abroad as US president, another bilateral meeting was
underway thousands of kilometers to the north.
Two CF-18 Canadian fighter jets encountered a
pair of Russian Tupolev 95 bombers over the Beaufort Sea just beyond
Canada’s Arctic airspace on 18 February. They told the crews to "turn
tail and head back to [Russian] airspace," according to Canadian
Defense Minister Peter MacKay.
The controversy between the world’s two largest
countries in terms of land mass was only beginning. Canadian leaders
deemed the incident a strange coincidence within 24 hours of Obama’s
arrival in Ottawa; Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Moscow's Arctic
maneuvers "increasingly aggressive" and bellicose, and promised to
“continue to respond.”
A Russian military official said that Canada knew
about the training missions over the Beaufort Sea, calling the response
“perplexing” and a “farce." And this week, a Russian diplomat told
Canadian parliamentarians that the seeming return to Cold War rhetoric
Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service, March 23, 2009
OTTAWA — Russia did nothing wrong when two of its military aircraft
made a controversial flight last month near Canada's Arctic, a Russian
diplomat told a committee of MPs on Monday.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper
described the Feb. 18 flight as an intrusion on Canada's airspace and
sovereignty, Dmitry Trofimov, head of the Russian embassy's political
section in Ottawa, testified before the national defence committee that
no such intrusion happened.
"From the point of international law, nothing happened, absolutely nothing," said Trofimov.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay hasn’t had much to crow about lately.
His military equipment buying and upgrading spree has been hit by
delays, cost over-runs, breakdowns or funding failures by his own
government. His photo-ops have been reduced to repatriation ceremonies
as the fallen return home from an Afghanistan conflict his leader
admits can no longer be won.
So when a Russian bomber approached Canadian Arctic airspace on the
day of President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa, MacKay sniffed a
Ramboesque muscle-flexing publicity winner.
Jets intercepted on eve of Obama's visit to Canada;
Harper expresses concern with 'increasingly aggressive' behaviour of
Steven Chase, Globe & Mail, February 28, 2009
OTTAWA -- Two Russian military bombers came close
to breaching northern Canadian airspace on the eve of U.S. President
Barack Obama's visit here last week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay
The Russians' behaviour drew a rebuke from Prime Minister Stephen
Harper, who said he was concerned about what he called encroachment
into Canadian territory.