24 September 2010

Harper/Williams disconnect #igornl

According to the Prime MInister, engineers from 4 Engineer Support Regiment in Gagetown are on their way to Newfoundland to assist in disaster relief.

As well, two or three ships – HMCS Fredericton, HMCS St. John’s and maybe HMCS Moncton – and helicopters on Fredericton and St. John’s are available for hurricane relief as well.

News media are reporting that. Here’s a Telegram story complete with a picture of Fredtown offshore Grand Bank.

Seems no one told the provincial government which delayed a newser Friday afternoon by a whole hour after the Prime Minister left town.

In addition, the Provincial Government has requested from the Government of Canada the provision of support from the Department of National Defense. [sic] The specific support being requested consists of Sea King helicopters and the ship-based naval support necessary to maintain operation of these helicopters, which have night flying and heavy lifting capabilities.

That release seems like the provincial government specifically wanted to limit the DND help available by asking only for helicopters.  And for the record, the helicopters don’t actually need ships.  The ships just happen to bring other capabilities with them, like water-purification units, medical facilities and other essential services needed during disaster relief operations.

Either the person who wrote that bit of the news release simply didn’t know what was going on or he or she wanted to minimise the scope of the help the provincial government needed.

Still no word on whether the engineers are coming or why the provincial government didn’t request help earlier.  Given the magnitude of the disaster it seems strange the provincial government would hesitate to take advantage of the considerable resources available even through the local reserve forces of the navy, army and air force.