America took enormous damage from Hurricane Maria and then didn’t realize it until it was too late. Katrina showed how poorly prepared the United States was. The Philippines shows how poorly prepared Canada is.
I was part of the peacekeeping battalion in Bosnia, which was designed to help stabilize Bosnia after the war in the 1990s. The Canadian Peacekeeping Cadet (CPCC) program we taught was designed to help lower the risk for casualties. That’s our job, to lower the risk of casualties, and we did it. We successfully lowered the risk of casualties to a number that was almost the same as the United States. No one remembers that because it didn’t happen. We were very busy.
That brings me to Canada.
The RCMP, Canada’s national police force, is in a disastrous state of affairs. My fellow Canadian and AIG columnist Phil Plait told me about how a courageous Canadian police officer in the Philippines was kicked out of a bar, and told he would be killed if he reported his matter to the police. The incident wasn’t reported, and the officer was killed. Phil got so upset that the Air Force took him off duty and flew him back to Canada. The Philippine police chief is also reported to have said that he felt that Phil was a threat to national security and should have been expelled instead of let back into the country.
Phil broke the story of the desecration of the Koran in Canada. For that story, the subject has been an MP under investigation for inappropriate links to a radical imam and his homophobic message to Canadian troops, and to glorification of terrorist groups.
What Phil did is what I did in Bosnia and what I did in the Philippines. He was unafraid of expressing opinions that might clash with those of his superiors.
I did the same for the peacekeeping cadets. I stand by the New Zealand and American peacekeeping military instructors who pointed out that a Canadian officer in Bosnia should have been working on reconstruction rather than standing around a hotel writing wedding announcements. That official said he was just playing polo, and was looking for a good time with a friend of his wife’s. What a jerk!
I’m now one of the firefighters trying to plug the holes caused by cuts made to our departments by a Liberal government. I cannot simply wonder if the soldiers fighting in the Philippines who saw Jim Morneau slapping “boos” at the end of his press conference when he announced more bad news for Canadian families on Tuesday would forgive him his I-don’t-care philosophy. We can’t just leave these poor guys out there, raising hell with licks and grease guns while we complain about cuts in our own departments.
Canadian firemen fought those hideous wildfires in B.C. and Alberta. They risked their lives in their fire trucks. Are we going to send them away now that the fire engines don’t have engines anymore? Do we have to lose our firefighters just to pay for the corruption of Jean Charest?
We are a long way from admitting that Canada is like us. That Canada is a basket case from which we need to run. That Canada is a weak, scared, shamed, corrupt country. That Canada won’t be protected from a massive international earthquake and flood. That Canada won’t be prepared for our national tragedy. That Canada hasn’t gotten the memo.
We are not military folk. It will take a brave person to admit it to us. And we’re not there yet.
To me, it’s the siege mentality. You wake up to find out some brick-and-mortar store you know and love has gone down and you’re very concerned, worried and scared. You’re angry. You’re sad and upset. You’re scared. You think you are about to lose everything. This is how we think when we live in a small city of 1.4 million people, and we think that emergency response must be a last resort that the city or area needs to rely on to cover first responders and police when circumstances prevent them from getting to you.
Bill Blair is my new best friend. I believe he is a good man. I know he believes he will be doing a good job of it. I am very hopeful he can turn around what is a profoundly troubled Canadian police force. I hope he gets the memo