Petawawa, Ontario – Cheryl Gallant, MP, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke was pleased to welcome His Excellency Governor-General The Right Honourable David Johnston to the repatriation ceremony of the 450 Tactical Helicopter (Chinook) Squadron (THS) Consecrated Colours to their new home at Garrison Petawawa.
“This is a proud day for all Canadians,” remarked MP Gallant. “Our soldiers deserve the best equipment to do their job. After the decade of darkness when our military was starved for equipment by the old government, our new helicopters are a welcome site. I only wish we had these heavy-lift Chinook helicopters before our brave soldiers were sent to the bomb-lined roads of Afghanistan. It is a fact that once we acquired strategic lift, casualty rates dropped.”
“Once our Conservative government had made the commitment to purchase the CH-147F Chinook helicopter, I knew the best location for 450 THS was Garrison Petawawa. It only made sense to locate the squadron close to the soldiers who would be trained with this helicopter. I am grateful for the support from Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force when it came time to make the right decision,” said Cheryl Gallant, MP. “I count getting the helicopters and bringing them to Petawawa among my most noteworthy accomplishments.”
Canada had a fleet of Chinook helicopters until they were withdrawn from service in anticipation of the acquisition of the EH-101 Helicopter. The decision by the old Chretien government to politicise military procurement and cancel that contract (at the cost of 700 million dollars) meant that Canadian soldiers were ill-equipped when ordered to go to Afghanistan several years later.
“The decision to locate 450 THS in the Upper Ottawa Valley has turned Petawawa into a boomtown, with new homes being built everyday to accommodate the influx of about 400 service personnel and their families. Since I was elected, Garrison Petawawa has become the largest army base in Canada. ”
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, it is indeed an honour and a privilege to be part of the ceremony to celebrate the official reactivation of the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.”