Mother Nature has proven once again that she is the ultimate terrorist. With the exception of global nuclear war, no man-made apocalypse can compete with her ability to instantly strike complete and utter terror into the stoutest hearts.
She makes no distinctions between rich and poor, young and old, male or female, local or tourist. There is no rationale for her random selection. No justification for her absolute cruelty. The magnitude of death, destruction and suffering inflicted by the tsunami in South Asia on Boxing Day is almost incomprehensible even for those collecting, burying and burning the bodies.
As I write this, nearly 150,000 people are confirmed dead. Tens of thousands are missing. One million are homeless and five million face starvation and disease. Lives torn apart or ended all together. Children plaintively calling out for parents that will never return. Mothers and fathers who must live forever with the memory of having their children torn from their arms by the sheer force of the water.
I am so proud of the response and generosity of average Canadians. When my wife Leah and I went to the Canadian Red Cross headquarters in Ottawa to deliver our donation, the volunteers there were moved to tears by the children waiting in line with piggy banks and seniors on fixed incomes handing over $20 bills.
Donations by individual Canadians have so far reached $40-million and counting. Corporate Canada is also stepping in with millions of dollars in donations for tsunami survivors and aid efforts.
In contrast with this immediate and unwavering demonstration of generosity, the Liberal government, through its bumbling and indecisiveness has embarrassed Canadians on the international stage once again. It was only public outcry that moved them to do ?the right thing?. That is not leadership.
When you consider one individual Canadian donor gave a half million dollars alone, the Martin government?s initial $1-million offering to aid South Asia was an insult! Grudgingly, the Liberals raised it to $4-million, then $40-million, then finally $80-million. The promise to match whatever Canadian individuals contribute is deceptive because the matching funds come out of funding the Liberals already announced.
Prime Minister Martin also dithered about whether to deploy DART, the Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team, for the first time since 1999! Why wasn?t DART?s 12-person reconnaissance team sent instantly, within 24 to 48 hours of the tsunami, to ascertain, not if, but where DART was needed most. The ?quick response? team won?t even be sent to Sri Lanka until Thursday, 11 days after the tsunami.
Incidentally, this clearly demonstrates the need to purchase hybrid carriers for our Navy, as proposed by the Conservative Party. These ships, which the Liberals dishonestly called ?aircraft carriers? during the 2004 election campaign, would be ideal to transport to Indian Ocean ports generators, mobile hospitals, water purification plants and helicopters desperately needed in the region and for other humanitarian missions.
Through this horrific tragedy, Canadians? spirit of humanitarianism and generosity has been reaffirmed. When disasters of this magnitude occur, we should remember that we?ve already ?won the lottery? just through the good fortune of being born in Canada.