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View Full Version : Sad state of affairs for great lakes boaters!



Smrtz
09-29-2006, 06:05 PM
I just read this and Im just sitting here shaking my head..Thought Id share it ...

WINDSOR, Ont. - A U.S. Coast Guard decision to arm its vessels with heavy machine-guns as an anti-terrorism measure and conduct gunnery exercises on the Great Lakes is drawing fire from politicians on the Canadian side of the border.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said Thursday a proposal to establish 34 live-fire training zones throughout the five lakes poses a threat to pleasure boaters, commercial shipping, the environment and the historic relationship between Canada and the U.S.

"I have a multitude of concerns," said Bradley. "They'll have dozens of safety zones where guns will be fired on a regular basis across the waters of the Great Lakes. They're using terrorism as an excuse."

Bradley said terming the firing ranges "safety zones" is a sad euphemism since thousands of boaters are on the water any given day and anyone could wander into "a hail of bullets."

Assurances from the Coast Guard that notices will be broadcast regularly on marine channels and all exercises will be closely monitored did not assuage his concerns. Bradley noted not all watercraft are equipped with radios.

He added that it's environmentally irresponsible to discharge thousands of rounds of lead ammunition into a waterway where the metal has already been cited as a contaminant.

He said the rationale for adding the extra firepower is questionable since there has never been evidence of a water-borne terrorist threat to the U.S. from Canada. Since the signing of bilateral treaties following the War of 1812, there has not been one such incident of aggression, he said.

"This is a huge step backwards," said Bradley, adding he has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking for federal intervention. "It's just another example of some U.S. agency using terrorism as an excuse to get more money for their programs."

MP Joe Comartin (NDP - Windsor-Tecumseh) said the U.S. has the right to arm its coast guard as it sees fit. However, he added, it should not have the right to fire those weapons on the Great Lakes for training.

His main concern is environmental. He said authorities on both sides of the border have made the removal of lead from the lakes a priority for years and measures have been taken to limit hunting for that reason. But the use of high-powered machine guns, leaving bullets on the lake bed to leach lead and "other possible toxins" could quickly reverse recent trends toward healthier lakes.

"Just having them there heavily armed is bad enough," Comartin said. "Given their security concerns, we're prepared to live with that. But test firing is not acceptable. That's an international body of water flowing into Canadian territory. That lead gets into the floor and works its way through the food chain, from fish, to birds, to humans."

Toronto Mayor David Miller, who chairs a committee of Canadian and U.S. mayors working to protect the lakes, said the machine guns further "militarize" the international border. He added it's symbolically and practically important that the border remain open.

Lieut. Ryan Barone, communications officer with the U.S. Coast Guard in Cleveland, acknowledged the agency has been surprised by the level of discussion on both sides of the border, noting a website to answer citizen concerns recorded 30,000 hits in one week.

He said the Coast Guard "is aggressively seeking public input." The website can be found at www.uscgd9safetyzones.com.

Barone said public forums have been scheduled in several centres around the lakes in the U.S. over the next two months. The closest one to Canada will be Oct. 19 in Marysville, Mich., near Sarnia.

Barone said it was decided to establish 34 safety zones to minimize costs and travel time. None will be situated less than five nautical miles from the border and commercial fishing grounds and shipping lanes will be avoided.

smokedog2
09-29-2006, 07:09 PM
There was a time when the FBI did not carry guns.

I have no doubt there will be accidents and inconvenience (not the least of which to cigarette smugglers).

All in all if the Coast Guard says stop, and you stop, you will be fine.

I just hope they use cormorants for target practice.