Pubdate: Tue, 14 Aug 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Justine Hunter
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Drug Test)


VICTORIA -- The Canadian navy is reviewing its drug-testing program 
after evidence of widespread cocaine use and trafficking aboard armed 
military patrol ship HMCS Saskatoon - allegedly involving as many as 
a third of the crew - has come to light in a series of military trials.

Four sailors have been dismissed from the Canadian Forces and three 
so far have been convicted of cocaine trafficking, following an 
undercover investigation by the Forces.

"There's a goodly level of concern with regard to the circumstances 
and a lot of smart people are putting their heads toward whether 
there needs to be changes to the random drug-testing program," 
Lieutenant-Commander Gerry Pash, a spokesman for Maritime Forces 
Pacific, said yesterday.

Chief Petty Officer Leonard Hearns, who was brought aboard the ship 
to try to bring the drug problem under control in January of 2006, 
testified that discipline aboard the Saskatoon was non-existent.

"In my 38-year-long career, I have never seen such an appalling 
sight," CPO Hearns told the court. "The ship was disorganized, there 
was no discipline and no trust among the crew," he said in an account 
reported by CBC News and confirmed by a military spokesperson.

Jason Ennis, 24, was convicted last week in a military court of 
trafficking, and has been fined $2,000. Mr. Ennis told the court 
between 10 and 12 members of the 31-member crew used cocaine 
regularly during the time of the investigation, in January, 2006.

However, he testified he did not use drugs while on the ship, which 
is armed with a 40 mm rapid-firing cannon and two .50 calibre machine guns.

In October, former chief petty officer Robert Carlson will be 
court-martialled, charged with trafficking and disgraceful behaviour. 
Mr. Carlson is the highest-ranking sailor charged in connection with 
the investigation. As the coxswain aboard HMCS Saskatoon, he was in 
charge of military discipline.

Earlier this year, two other crew members were convicted of 
trafficking. Sonya Robert, 27, pleaded guilty to selling half a gram 
of cocaine to a military undercover drug officer. Brenda Murley, 28, 
pleaded guilty to the same charge and both were fined $500.

"Certainly there was an element of surprise with regards to the 
number of people relative to the size of the crew," LCdr. Pash said. 
"The Canadian Forces has a zero-tolerance rule with regard to the use 
of drugs, recognizing that members of the Canadian Forces are put in 
positions of trust and drug use is not compatible with military service."

HMCS Saskatoon, based at CFB Esquimalt near Victoria, is one of 12 
Kingston-class vessels designed for maritime coastal defence. It can 
be outfitted for a variety of roles, including minesweeping and 
search and rescue, but is frequently used for training reserve members.

As far as navy military vessels go, HMCS Saskatoon is a comfortable ship.

Just 55 metres long, with a maximum crew of 41, the Canadian navy 
website boasts of the ship's "extremely liveable," co-ed 
accommodation - no more than four crew per cabin - plus a modern, 
well-equipped galley.
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