Monday, January 18, 2010

Past lessons learned and applied to Haiti relief

The past five years seem to have given Canada time to learn important lessons about responding to international disasters. Contrast the performance of Canada in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake with its response five years ago to the south-east Asia tsunami, and one can see a vast improvement.

According to a CBC News report in 2005, John Watson, president and chief executive of CARE Canada, one of our country’s biggest relief organizations, assessed Canada’s response to the tsunami disaster as “amateur”.

There is no question that national response has been, in both cases, generous and beyond reproach. However, the reaction of the current government seems to have been more decisive, organized and coordinated. We now seem to know more precisely when, how and where to deploy our extraordinary Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). During the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, there seemed to be much debate over when and how that team would be used—and how to get it to its destination.

Of course, one major development has occurred that has dramatically improved our ability to respond to humanitarian crises inside and outside of our borders: the rebuilding of our military capability. This is something significant that has happened since the Harper Conservatives took office in 2006. For example, we no longer have to rent heavy lift aircraft to move our assets from place to place—we now have that capacity “in house,” so to speak.

Canadians, it seems to me, take great satisfaction from the knowledge that in international crises Canada often hits above its weight. After seeing our country in action over the past several days, we have much of which to be proud.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. If I remember correctly, there was a huge question about the government raised funding during the 2004 Sri Lanka Tsunami relief. There was a constant rumor that the money was slow, was earmarked for large capital projects that never happened, or stolen by corrupt officials. This funding could make a huge difference in Haiti but only if it goes to the right place.

    I urge the government to keep this in mind because the media won't give us the same break that they did to the Government of Paul Martin.

  2. The biggest change we have had here in Canada is a change in Government.
    Instead of a Government who had corruption as it's area of expertise,
    we now have a Government that is capable, steady and professional.
    What a difference those few years have made.
    mel wilde Kelowna

  3. I agree but it won't matter who's at fault to the "gotcha" media. All this crap over Afghan prisoners isn't the actions of Canadians but the media definitely is using it to smear this government.
    If this government is going to make this a priority, we need to keep the "gotcha" media in mind.

  4. Yes, it's good to see our DART personnel can go to a disaster site on our own aircraft rather than hitch hiking around the world as they had to do under the Liberals.

    We Canadians know our men and women in uniform are second to none, and those of us with family members in the military are SO glad they are finally being treated with the respect they deserve.

    Michael Ignatieff has to be asked, if he forms the next government, will he stay committed to our military,or will he push these fine young Canadians to the back burner once again?


  5. I wonder how long it will take befor Oujh DoSanjh and John Mc Callum allege that our Aid workers comitted War-crimes by handing over injured criminals to the corrupt Haitian Police known for torturing citizens.

    I've got January 26th in the pool , plus double points if it's McCallum or Bob Rae.