Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Please Prove Me Wrong

The BBC is reporting that there are no Canadians providing emergency aid at Leogane in Haiti. The Canadian media reported that HMCS Athabaskan landed in Leogane yesterday while HMCS Halifax and Canada's DART Team landed at Jacmel, the ancestral home of our Governor General. (Translation for non-Canadians: Queen's reprsentative and stand-in when Elizabeth II is not in the country.)

I was puzzled by the discrepency, but British Press often get news wrong when it comes to Canada. (American media avoid making mistakes by not covering Canadian stories at all.) So I scanned the English speaking media from several countries and I found no mention of any Canadian ships in Haiti and few mentions of Canadians even providing aid to Haiti.

How do you miss ships in the harbour unless no one knows they are there?

If we are not contributing enough that anyone on the ground in Haiti knows we are there, then the mission is a failure and shame to Canadians and our Armed Forces. If that is so, the Government of Canada must stop wasting our money and bring them home. Or make the mission effective. Whether that can happen is out of our individual hands.

But Canadians can pray effectively. We can send our money to accredited organizations like World Vision, the Red Cross and Dcotors without Borders, knowing the Government of Canada will match our donations.

Still, I am deeply disappointed. Like milions of Canadians, I thought Canada's DART, Mounties, ships, sailors, and soldiers would be effective in Haiti. But, perhaps we were only deluding ourselves to get a good night's sleep. How very, very sad, for us and even more so for the Haitians.

One last thing,I would be absolutley delighted to be proven wrong. So, please leave your comments. Good news would be welcome.


Jonathan Williams said...

First point. The American contingent is 10x the size of the Canadian one 10,000 verses 1,000 so there is a small size issue.

Second because of that you will have bias of the Americans due to them being so much in the area and concerns about how this much force projects on a nation they once took over for a brief period last century.

Second, Canadians are mostly interested in the Canadian effort while the other countries cover their own efforts, or the US effort. There has been little coverage of any other country other than France who has been complaining.

The DART team for example is a grand total of 200 specialized forces. They are not going to create a big footprint. Nor be as obvious as the US.

Most of the Canadian ships based in Halifax took a week, with loading and shipping to reach the area. Not surprising considering the distance. The US forces are based in Florida and North Carolina so they have much less distance to travel thus are able to arrive quickly.

If you read the CP articles it appears that Canadian has been given portions which are smaller but no less in need.

Even when Katrina hit and when the Tsunami hit there was no quick fix. It takes time to mount proper efforts, the logistics involved are massive especially when you have a country that is completely pancaked and had not much to begin with.

No one else has really be able to do much more until this week. So I think it is a bit quick to level blame and cry out about how ineffective the CF has been so far.

To many people want something DONE NOW in this information age. The world is too big and too complex for that to happen.

The aid is getting in, Canadians will make a difference and time will tell how much. But calling it a failure before anyone is really ready to go seems slightly premature.

Looking at the BBC article it is does not say Canadians are not there or there in fact it says nothing at all. So what? Like I said they are focused more on the lead efforts by the Americans and the Canadian effort is only just beginning to take effect. As it is for all parties.

So do not give in to pessimism so quickly. It is sad that as a failed State (in political terms) Haiti could do nothing to help itself or even to make things easier for those giving aid. So starting from scratch these agencies are forging ahead. It will take years to fix this mess. We are only just starting.

Jane Harris Zsovan (Jane Harris) said...

You are suggesting on your own blog that Canada turn Haiti into a protectorate. Not only is that abhorrent and colonial, it is not realistic.

Canada is not considered an important international player by either the British or Americans. (That may change after the U.K. elections, though. Let's hope so. It will not change in the U.S. no matter which party is in power.)

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing for Canadians. It allow our aid workers and personnel to aid countries -- and those countries to be assured that we do not have some political agenda for being ther.

Haiti needs aid workers, more than soldiers. This whole thing has become an issue of chest thumping by several countries, including Canada and the U.S. (Jokes on Canadians who think this will give us some kind of political clout in the Americas. Nobody cares what Canada contributes excpet the people we help. We are B listers in the diplomatic world.)

Taxpayers should not pay for ineffective military interventions to boost prestige of any nation, including Canada.

If our ships cannot be found and our workers are invisible, then we must consider that perhaps military intervention is not the way to go at all.

Perhaps providing funds to non-profits is the more effective course -- for Canadian taxpayers and the Haitian people.

All this talk of protectorates and neo-colonisim & Canada's international image through military intervention is quite frankly repulsive. It's also delusional.