Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Terrible timing for the Conservatives: AG zings them on emergency preparedness

A timely report from the independent Auditor General whom Conservatives have loved in recent years: "Federal disaster plan comes up short: auditor general." Public Safety Canada comes in for criticism, said department being under Peter Van Loan's leadership. Seems not much has been done on emergency preparedness although Peter professes earnestly that he'll now do his homework. As the H1N1 scene is unfolding, the expression "a day late and a dollar short" comes to mind.
Public Safety Canada, the agency charged with co-ordinating the federal response to threats such as the H1N1 flu, has yet to complete its emergency plan, the auditor general says.

Two years after Parliament gave the department responsibility for emergency management leadership, the formal plan has yet to be finished and approved.
If a terrorist attack, massive flood or other major disaster strikes, the federal government is unprepared to lead a co-ordinated emergency response, Canada's auditor general has found.
So we're learning. The hard way. We've heard little to nothing from Van Loan, Public Safety Minister, as the H1N1 vaccination rollout unfolds ever so haphazardly. Missing in action, just like his boss. Such facts begin to pile up, painting a picture of a Conservative government that is not so concerned with the very basics of government such as public safety. What are these people there for if not to do the basics?

So what has Van Loan been doing with his time then? He's been otherwise occupied, with the many law and order photo-ops for legislation that's frequently introduced late in parliamentary sessions and that the Justice Minister admits is all about the optics:
Repeated announcements of Conservative government measures – this week it's tougher sentencing proposals for "white-collar crime" – are an exercise in public relations to pressure the opposition into supporting them, the justice minister conceded Tuesday.
It's a photo-op obsessed, p.r. dominated government right from the very top, short-changing important public safety responsibilities. And now the Auditor General concurs.