Canada's North

Sep 15, 2005

Canada’s North. We’ve taken it for granted for so long that it’s hard for many to believe that our sovereignty of the north could become jeopardized. Our neglect in developing a national SAR strategy has left the Canadian North dangerously vulnerable to more fatal accidents, and we may be called to task. 

During consultations and interviews in preparation for this special Search and Rescue edition, FrontLine was reminded of numerous concerns related to Canada’s sparse presence and service capabilities up north. Could these same issues be the motivation behind the choice of the northern region as the next-in-line for a Canada Command Centre? Stay tuned.

In addition to northern issues noted in many of our SAR articles, Ted Lennox, President of LPS Aviation, has prepared an outline of some of the more solvable challenges (and offering possible options) facing northern Canada today. 

Major Rob Day, one of FrontLine’s more regular commentators, offers his views on the importance of a small northern island that you probably never noticed before the summer of 2005. 

The National SAR Secretariat (NSS) acts as a liaison for Search and Rescue agencies and partners. The NSS helped bring together many of the SAR partners commenting in FrontLine pages this month. In a Guest Editorial commentary, NSS Executive Director, Jean Murray, outlines some of the challenges faced by SAR partners and stakeholders.

One of the most obvious needs identified for northern safety could also qualify to top the current list of the “Most Frustrating Procurement Item” (and unfortunately for the defence industry, that list is long). To explain, FrontLine’s aviation correspondent, Peter Pigott, gives us an outline of SAR in Canada and how the “fast-tracked” procurement for the Fixed-Wing SAR asset is stuck in “slow-motion.” Following that, he interviews test pilots from one of the potential contenders, the Alenia C-27J Spartan. To compete the picture, Chris Wattie, national correspondent for the National Post, outlines proposed solutions from the EADS CASA contender, the C-295.

Volunteers. Many groups depend on them, and the Search and Rescue community benefits greatly from a base of increasingly high-tech-savvy, dedicated volunteers (especially in southern urban locations). Full-time lawyer and part-time SAR Manager, Don Blakely tells us how the changes in attitudes and needs have resulted in a marked increase not only in the need for SAR volunteers but also in the variety of functions they perform.

Rob Day explains the importance of combat search and rescue capabilities for potentially hazardous operations of today.

Another asset critical to any SAR equation is the helicopter, Ken Pole delves into this topic to find out why.

One of the larger SAR and security partners, the Canadian Coast Guard, has recently become a Special Operating Agency. Charles D. Maginley examines the ­situation and reports on how it might affect the CCG and its services. In a related story, Michael Olsen gives us the official perspective on how becoming an SOA will affect the CCG’s bottom line.

Technology is making improvements in just about every conceivable industry, and as Howard Posluns of Transport Canada tells us, SAR is benefitting from research into new beacon technologies.

Police are an important SAR partner. Sgt Uday Jaswal explains how the Ottawa Police Service has helped in developing and refining successful search protocols and programs with their community partners.

The CF is very dedicated to its SAR Tech program. In this special edition, we find out about SAR training and then highlight some recent SAR Exercises.

And with all of this, we’ve still only exposed the tip of the iceberg regarding Search and Rescue in Canada. Partners such as PSEPC, the RCMP, local Police, and others play ­a variety of roles (such as police dive teams) – hopefully we will highlight them in future editions.