Job cuts predicted if navy moves east

Politicians vow to swamp navy’s Halifax proposal

HMCS Regina pulls out of CFB Esquimalt’s dock in a major 2008 deployment

Reaction to talks of moving Pacific fleet command from CFB Esquimalt to Halifax was swift from the federal campaign trail last week.

The Conservative and NDP camps have vowed, if elected, to not centralize control of Canadian naval ships on the East Coast, even as the navy forges ahead with identifying ways to reorganize itself for efficiency and cost savings.

“If re-elected, our government will not be taking this action. I will not allow this move,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement last Thursday. “The command and control of the Pacific fleet will stay in the Pacific, at Esquimalt.”

“Does that mean not one job is going to go from Esquimalt east?” said Alex Morrison, defence expert and Royal Roads University associate professor. “Does that mean not one ship is going to be transferred from Esquimalt to Halifax?

“Those are the detailed questions that need to be asked now and after the election is over.”

If command of naval ships at CFB Esquimalt were shuttled to Halifax, as it was in the 1980s, the fallout would be disastrous, according to the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. It could eventually mean job losses at the base and fewer naval ships on the West Coast, as well as hindering West Coast trading strength, said chamber CEO Bruce Carter.

“The management focus will be on the Halifax operations in the Atlantic, which means more resources, more ships, perhaps more operational dollars, more fuel and less of everything here, because it’s not front of mind,” said Carter, a former military member. “We have seen that repeatedly with corporate takeovers and I don’t think this will be any different.”

Union reps for base civilian infrastructure and ship maintenance workers have known of the naval reorganization since last year, but were assured their workers wouldn’t be impacted by fleet command changes.

“Essentially, what they’re shooting for as the defence dollar gets tighter (is) they want to ensure that they’re spending the money the best way possible,” said Mark Miller, B.C vice-president of the Union of National Defence Employees, which represents 1,200 of the 2,000 civilians at CFB Esquimalt.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Unique gift alert: adopt a grizzly bear for Christmas

Nature Conservancy Canada is hosting its 25th annual Gifts of Nature campaign

Saanich vet talks tips for winter travel with pets

Going to see the vet the day before a trip is never a good idea

Talking about tubas! Annual concert attracts hundreds to Market Square

The 2019 edition of Tuba Christmas concert and fundraiser goes this Saturday in the square

Woman injured during West Shore RCMP arrest prompts police watchdog investigation

IIO investigating to determine if police action or inaction linked to woman’s injuries

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Sooke’s École Poirier students win B.C. Hydro Power Smart contest

More than 100 schools compete in province-wide competition

Most Read