21 October 2009

When it comes to reckless speculation…

at least CBC commentator Brian Callahan is an expert on the subject.

Since the Cougar helicopter crash this past spring Callahan has been pushing an attack on 103 Rescue Squadron based on the speculation that somehow 103 Squadron could have materially changed the outcome had it not been training at Sydney Nova Scotia at the time of the incident.

Callahan continued his irresponsible attack during a CBC commentary on Wednesday.  Give it a listen, if you will. 

Notice that he actually doesn’t make a case on this.  He never has.   

Rather, Callahan makes false statements.  He claims, for example, that the Department of National Defence will be as absent from the helicopter safety inquiry “as they were on March 12th.”  Callahan knows of course that both coast guard and the Canadian Forces were far from absent on the day of the crash and subsequently during the recovery of the bodies.  Callahan clearly knows nothing about search and rescue as he claims that 103 Squadron left its task to others on that fateful day.

And he suggests – in his reference to 26 years ago – that the recommendations of the Ocean Ranger Royal Commission were ignored.  That too is an utterly false suggestion. 

Words from last spring remain appropriate:

This sort of misrepresentation amounts to an abuse. 

It tortures the families of the victims of the crash by suggesting a hope which is false. 

This attack – and that’s what it amounts to – tortures the men and women of the search and rescue services.  103 Search and Rescue Squadron flies twice the national average in SAR missions.  Hercules from 413 Squadron join them far out to sea.  They all train hard and fly hard and risk their lives in weather when the rest of us are huddled by a fire safe at home. They do it to save the souls whose lives are at risk in the harsh North Atlantic. When lives are lost, as in this case, they will inevitably search their souls to ensure that all that could be done was done.

This attack abuses the men and women of Cougar. The company has an exemplary safety record.  The company has such a record because every single employee is committed to safe service.  Over 48,000 accident free flying hours don’t happen without such a level of personal commitment. The company’s crews also fly search and rescue services every bit as good and every bit as dangerous as the work done by 103 and its sister squadrons.

These misrepresentations abuse the members of the public who are shocked by the tragedy and who share in the grief of those who have lost loved ones. They are misled into believing things which are not true.

In a time of tragedy, it is hard to imagine more monstrous abuses. The tortures will continue until someone decides to put an end to them. Maybe a wise editorial hand needs to rest on someone’s shoulder.

In the meantime,  all that the rest of us can do is hope that somewhere in the midst of their self-absorption, the perpetrators of the abuse can realize the harm they are doing.

Sadly, Brian is not alone.  Some politicians have also taken to building platforms for themselves out of corpses and grief.

Sadder still, Callahan continues to get a paid platform from which to spread his misinformation;  the wise editorial hand is still missing.

Since the perpetrators of the abuse have clearly not realized what they doing, perhaps it remains a hope that Judge Robert Wells’ inquiry will provide enough fact to silence the reckless speculation once and for all.