Thank you so much for that warm welcome.
As the Canadian Coast Guard marks 50 years of stellar service from coast to coast to coast, it is an honour to be here with you to reflect on its proud history, and to look ahead to the vital role it will continue to play in the decades to come.
This is just the beginning of a year-long tribute to the Canadian Coast Guard.
My colleague, the Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, kicked off the celebrations in Nova Scotia yesterday and events have been taking place across the country.
It was 50 years ago yesterday —on January 26, 1962—that the Diefenbaker Government created the Canadian Coast Guard. Over the past five decades, those familiar red and white hulls have rightly become part of our national heritage—a reassuring symbol of service and security to Canadians.
While the Coast Guard is marking its 50th birthday, the presence of the base here in Parry Sound, and indeed the origins of the organization, date back much longer.
In the early part of the last century, as our young country expanded upon its foundations, commercial and civilian boat traffic was intensifying across all of the Great Lakes.
It was during this time that the Parry Sound base was born. Its establishment and enduring presence here in the harbour helped build the thriving community we see today.
Since that time, the base has grown into one of the largest on the Great Lakes. Its responsibilities span from enforcing federal regulations, environmental response and protection, to navigational aid. Those who serve with the Coast Guard do this, and more, with courage, dedication and expertise.
True to its mandate, the Coast Guard has also played a vital role in the Economy of this region, and many others around the Great Lakes, by maintaining accessible waterways for the many commercial shipping vessels and pleasure-craft operators who frequent these shores.
Since the inception of the Coast Guard and in the years before its formalization, there have been countless men and women who have served at the Parry Sound base, many here today, with the greatest of distinction. I commend you. You have performed your daily duties with unwavering professionalism, and many times you’ve been called upon to play the role of life savers to boaters in distress.
As we honour this great organization’s past and present, we must also consider its bright future. The demands placed upon our Coast Guard are as great as they have ever been. Ensuring the sustainable use of our oceans and waterways, and maintaining an increased presence in the far north, are some of the challenges faced today, and into the years ahead.
There is no better time to reflect upon the vast importance of our Coast Guard, thank all those who have served and are currently serving, and look forward together toward the continued success and achievements that lie ahead.
The Government of Canada is working hard to ensure the Coast Guard can look forward to a bright future. This Government has invested more than $1.4 billion to modernize the fleet, and to ensure personnel have the right tools and training.
We truly appreciate this institution’s vital work in keeping our waterways safe and secure, day in and day out.
Congratulations to all those who keep our Canadian Coast Guard a strong and vital force.
Tony Clement, M.P.