U.S. Arms Great Lakes Boats

Knowing what we know about the supposed terrorist threat to the United States, what is the true motive for this?


The Canadian Press     
For: www.niagarafallsreview.ca

Canada - Thursday, September 28, 2006 @ 02:00

HALIFAX — The U.S. Coast Guard’s plans to arm boats on the great lakes with machine-guns — a measure that has drawn fire from Canadian residents — were sanctioned by Ottawa three years ago, officials from both countries confirmed today.

Earlier this year, the American coast guard started training exercises on the lakes with live .30-calibre machine-guns attached to several small boats.

The practice was temporarily suspended until November after complaints from residents and Canadian politicians, including Toronto Mayor David Miller who claimed the move violated a treaty signed after the War of 1812.

But the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard said it’s become necessary to protect the border that runs through the lakes, and he said the treaty no longer applies.

“There has been an agreement since 1814 that those types of weapons would not be used in the great lakes,” Admiral Thad Allen said today after three days of meetings with Canadian Coast Guard officials in Halifax.

But both countries signed an agreement in 2003 that allows armed boats on the great lakes “in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001,” but forbids such activity in Canadian waters.

“(The weapons) are needed to secure nuclear power plants, security zones and the missions that we need to conduct on the great lakes,” Allen said.

The U.S. Coast Guard wants to establish 34 permanent zones in the great lakes, where crew members would fire at floating targets. It’s part of a broader American campaign to protect its borders from threats such as terrorism.

Toronto Mayor David Miller said U.S. officials are exaggerating threats from inside Canada.

“This has been the world’s longest undefended border for over 200 years,” Miller, who has outlined his concerns in a letter to the prime minister, said in an interview from Toronto.

“To allow the coast guard to re-arm is a very backwards step and a very concerning one . . . It’s quite clear there are not floods of terrorists coming over the border from Canada to the United States.”

Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, said the exercises are limited to American waters, and there are safety measures in place to protect nearby boaters.

Warnings are broadcast on maritime frequencies before the exercises, and the coast guard has boats on the water monitoring traffic, he said.

“When we talk about these permanent zones . . . we’re only talking about a couple times a year, a couple hours a day.”

The commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, George Da Pont, said his agency has been in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, but he said it was an American issue.

“I emphasize that it’s in U.S. waters, and every step is being taken to ensure that all safety considerations are being observed,” he said.

Liberal MP Mark Holland, the Opposition critic for the Canada Border Services Agency, called on the Conservative government to condemn the exercises.

“We should be working co-operatively with the Americans on North American security, not militarizing the border or building walls — virtual or real — between us,” Holland said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Da Pont downplayed the possibility that the Canadian Coast Guard could take on a more aggressive role in patrolling Canada’s borders.

He said while the coast guard will assist bodies like the RCMP, navy and the Canada Border Services Agency with patrols and security operations, its involvement will be limited and its personnel won’t be armed.

“The Canadian Coast Guard doesn’t have a direct mandate for security,” Da Pont said. “We support the security efforts of our colleagues.”

The Canadian Coast Guard and RCMP already work together to patrol the great lakes and St. Lawrence River — a program likely to expand when four new patrol vessels arrive in 2009, he added.

Sbg, did you get my mail

Sbg, did you get my mail dude?

Yes I just checked me email,

Yes I just checked me email, thanks!!