Saturday, September 17, 2005

Operation Good PR For Martin

The Canadian Navy ships sent to the Gulf Coast to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief operations are coming home after just four days:

The navy’s claim that ships were the best way to send help to the Gulf Coast isn’t holding water with some sailors.

At the bar after a long day of cleaning up trash left behind by Hurricane Katrina’s massive storm surge, some seem bitter that the military was already making plans to pull out again four days after our warships first anchored off Biloxi, Miss.

“It’s all about the PR,” said one sailor. “Stand in front of the camera and look nice.”

To many sailors, the humanitarian mission has obvious political overtones.

“It doesn’t matter to us,” said one naval officer. “We get paid to serve, so whatever the country wants us to do, we do.”


But the U.S. Navy — which was in charge of organizing the Canadian work parties — seemed ill-prepared to assign the Canadians major tasks.

“I get pretty pissed off when I don’t have something to do,” said one frustrated Canadian sailor. “Maybe they don’t trust us.”

It also seems, at times, that the Canadians are more worried about making sure their sailors use hand-sanitizer and eat a proper lunch, than actually getting down to the work of cleaning up hurricane damage. Toronto even bought 200 Camelbak water carriers — at $40 a pop — to keep its sailors hydrated, even though cases of bottled water are available everywhere they go.

Last weekend, the emergency preparedness people couldn't even be bothered to come in on the weekend to make sure the navy was properly supplied.

Now they're coming home early after having done little more than pick up some garbage, wasting valuable naval manpower and resources.

But at least Paul Martin no longer looks heartless for having waited three days to issue a press release expressing condolences for the victims, and he also looks somewhat resolute for having sent our men into harm's way.

Whether or not anyone was actually helped in Mississippi, Paul Martin was.

And that's what really counts in the end.

Source: Halifax Daily News

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