No Contest on AG's Coast Guard Critique: Hearn

Minister lays blame with former Liberal government

February 14 , 2007

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said he has given "strict orders" to deal with an auditor general's report that found massive disorganization within the Canadian Coast Guard.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser blasted poor record-keeping, wasted spending and bungling management in a report released Tuesday.

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said he cannot argue with Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report on the Canadian Coast Guard.

"She's right. I told her to her face [that] we couldn't argue with anything she said," Hearn told reporters in Ottawa Tuesday.

Hearn said the problems cited in Fraser's report happened before the Conservatives took office in 2006, and were due to Liberal neglect.

Nonetheless, Hearn said he has given orders for resolving problems highlighted in the audit, which highlighted the coast guard's aging fleet and its troubles providing surveillance at sea.

"There has to be a plan in place to do it  not a hit-and-miss, as we've seen in the past," Hearn said.

"[There] has to be proper direction, proper management and a proper reporting system. If you don't have that kind of structure, you have chaos, and that's what I think they found in coast guard for quite some time," Hearn told CBC News. 

"[It's] not necessarily the fault of the people involved, either, but the fault of the government who didn't pay any attention."

Hearn said government has increased the coast guard's operating budget by $45 million in the past year, and has set aside $276 million for new ships. Plans are in place to procure 10 vessels to replace aging ships, he added.

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