Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jay Hill Politicizes Disaster Response

From Prince George Peace River MP (and government whip) Jay's Hill's weekly column:

Think back to the devastating Tsunami in South Asia on Boxing Day 2004. Over 150,000 people were confirmed dead. Another 130,000 were missing and tens of thousands of survivors desperately needed food, medical attention and clean water.

Nations around the world rushed to send personnel, equipment and medical supplies. Canada’s own Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two weeks later. Why did a supposed “quick response” unit, established to deliver humanitarian assistance and clean water in domestic and international disasters, take so long to arrive? Well, DART had no means to get there.


Well no more. Last week, just eighteen months after taking office, our Conservative Government delivered on our promise to strengthen Canada’s independent capacity to control our own domestic and foreign policy and to defend our national sovereignty and security. The delivery came in the form of Canada’s first C-17 Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft.

Make no mistake; I am glad we're getting the new aircraft. However, Mr. Hill's characterization of DART as a "rapid response" unit is misleading in the extreme, as Tony Gilles of Lakehead University (an expert on earthquake engineering) wrote in 2004:

DART is not a rapid response emergency search and rescue team (although its engineering unit is certainly capable in this area) and, therefore, it is not the team to send into a disaster area in the hours immediately following such an event. Response in the first 24 hours is critical for rescue operations, and there are many international teams highly skilled in this task and equipped with trained dogs and specialised search devices... As a primary care medical unit, the DART team attends to illness, disease and obstetrics, and the demand for these treatments increases in the weeks after a disaster, whereas the trauma units are winding down their role at this time.


These same contributions can be expected in Sri Lanka. It has taken a week or more to understand the enormous scale of the disaster in Asia − recall in the first hours a loss of 12,000 lives was reported; now we are facing a loss which may exceed 200,000 − twice the population of Thunder Bay. DART requires a large physical area to establish its base, and its specialised engineering capacity ideally needs to be located near to a primary water treatment facility in order to establish a long-term water supply. It is, therefore, prudent to take time to assess the scope of the disaster and to select carefully the site for the team so that it can have the greatest impact in the longer term towards the recovery of the community.

These words, written in response to the potshots Mr. Hill's Tories were taking in 2004 with reference to DART and the perceived failings of the Liberal government, still ring true today:

It is an unfortunate fact that even in so huge a humanitarian crisis, some news media and politicians seize on the opportunity to politicise the national and international response. Surely partisan politics can be set aside in these circumstances and the focus turn to investigative journalism identifying the needs and the most efficient and effective response strategies? Had these politicians taken time to educate the public on the capacity and role of DART, the apparent delay in its deployment would be better understood by the public. Canadians should take great pride in the contribution that the DART team will make in the current crisis.

So Mr. Hill should can the crap.

(Note: I can no longer find the link to Mr. Gilles original article. Sorry.)


Anonymous said...

we never sent a ROWPU unit to Katrina. Never.

If you are going to try and slam someone for bending the truth you have to at least be honest.

Being caught in an outright lie doesn't do much for your credibility

Mike said...

My understanding is that Hillier wanted to go with the cheaper option to lease the giant Russian aircraft and have it operate out of Trenton. It would have been the fraction of the cost of the ones that the AF are now buying.

But I supposed if we did that, Gordo's old lobbying clients wouldn't get their snouts in the trough...

Anonymous said...

Anon above straightens us all out on who O'Connor lobbied for and takes umbrage at the skewing of facts. On the other hand, Anon and friends didn't mind at all supporting and expanding the notion that all kinds of Liberals pocketed sponsorship cash knowing full well the opposite was true. Some of us are wrong occasionally while others have no integrity whatsoever.

bigcitylib said...

Now that I've googled it, it seems that DART was preparing to go to Lousiana but had been unable to leave due to mass confusion on the part of the U.S. federal gov. Are you, go navy, saying they never got there? If not, I will alter the post.

Anonymous said...

"expanding the notion that all kinds of Liberals pocketed sponsorship cash"

But they did.

Many good Liberals received bags of cash in Liberal Riding Offices.

Many good Liberals spent the cash, without receipts, violating election laws.

There is still $40 million missing.

Where are the Liberals hiding the loot ??

Anonymous said...

DART was never requested or planned for deployment. The Americans could truck in water a million times faster than a ROWPU could filter it and a fraction the cost.

ROWPU's are used for off the beaten path deployments.

here's the summary of Op UNISON

"On September 6, HMC Ships Athabaskan, Ville de Qu├ębec
and Toronto, accompanied by the Canadian Coast Guard
Ship Sir William Alexander left Halifax for Operation
UNISON. Headed for areas in the southern US that were
hit by Hurricane Katrina, the ships carried thousands of
items, including diapers, toiletry kits and blankets. A composite
team of Navy divers and Army combat engineer
divers from across Canada were also deployed, as were
members of the Naval Construction Team. “On behalf of
my grateful country, thank you and thank all Canadians for
giving us your best when we need you the most,” said US
Ambassador David Wilkins. “What you are doing today,
ladies and gentlemen, is important.You are saving lives and
to those survivors in the United States, you are helping
them build back their lives.” The ships returned to Canada
September 18, but the divers and construction workers
stayed until October"

bigcitylib said...

I'll change the last par. But read this:

Reality Bites said...

What I want to know is, what's up with "our Conservative Government"?

Did he not get the memo about always saying "Canada's New Government"?

Will the whip get whipped?

Mike said...

Anon 3:21 - Oh well that makes choosing the more expensive option over the wishes of the Armed Forces itself ok then.

BTW, was it only airbus?

And I won't apologize to that festering statist pig wasting my tax dollars like that.

Dan said...

Oh don't worry Mike, I'm sure that all the ridiculous no-bid (or effectively no-bid, the way specs are written) contracts emanating from DND are giving us fabulous value for our money.

Hey conservatives, what the hell happened to free market competition? If it was cheaper to lease, then that seems like a no-brainer. I think O'Connor was overcompensating for something. And no, I will not apologize for that one.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought O'Connor lobbied for all military equipment co's at some time or another.

Speaking of money in envelopes - "Conservative" Mulroney didn't mind receiving his money in envelopes in hotel rooms.