CONSERVATIVE shadow minister for foreign affairs, Erin O’Toole, on Monday accused the government of not responding “quickly enough to help stranded Canadians return home given the magnitude of the destruction from these storms [as a result of Hurricane Irma] and the impact on infrastructure on these islands. We are asking them to deploy Royal Canadian Air Force assets immediately to retrieve stranded Canadians who are facing delays in returning home. We also believe Canada should focus rapid support to countries severely impacted by these storms.”
He added: “Given the capability for the Canadian Armed Forces to deploy and operate in challenging environments, we request that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence coordinate the immediate deployment of Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 and CC-130 assets to coordinate retrieval of Canadians in countries where airline and charter companies continue to have difficulties operating. We also request that these Ministers coordinate the deployment of additional Canadian Armed Forces assets, including the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to assist countries impacted on a priority basis following the assessment that appears to be underway.”
O’Toole said: “Like all Canadians, the Conservative Opposition has been watching the terrible impact of Hurricane Irma and other storms battering the Caribbean and the United States. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by these terrible storms. Opposition Members of Parliament have been trying to work with the government on its response to the crisis by spreading word on the support and services provided by Global Affairs Canada and by working directly with constituents and their families impacted by these storms. We will continue to do this important work.
“With hundreds of Canadians stranded in countries impacted by these storms we are concerned the government’s response to support these Canadians has been inadequate to date. In many instances, Caribbean islands impacted by the storms have suffered dramatic destruction of critical infrastructure and may have serious challenges assisting their own people, let alone ensuring the well-being of Canadians stranded there. In these circumstances, the government should take immediate and proactive steps to help these countries directly and to direct the retrieval of our citizens to ensure their well-being.”