Friday, June 21, 2013

Alberta Floods: Will this be Stephen Harper's Katrina Moment?

Remember PM Harper's  response to the 2007 Financial Meltdown? 

His seeming inability to understand that when crises hit, Canadians expect their federal government to help them? His discussion of the implosion of share prices as being a good time to buy stocks (while many Canadians watched in disbelief their dreams of a decent retirement go up in smoke)?

And remember President George W. Bush's seeming lack of concern when Katrina smasked into the Gulf shoreline and flooded a huge city, leaving people stranded on roof tops and begging for help? That Katrina Moment spelled the end of Bush's moral authority to lead his nation.

Now, with massive floods in Alberta, Harper is going to tour the damaged areas:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on his way to southern Alberta on Friday to tour areas devastated by flooding that has displaced tens of thousands of people. Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall tweeted that the prime minister was flying to his hometown of Calgary “to tour flood damage” with Premier Alison Redford, who also lives in the city and represents a constituency there. Harper has already promised Redford she’ll have Ottawa’s full support for rescue and recovery efforts as the province struggles to deal with the deluge.

What does this prime minister mean by "Ottawa's full support for rescue and recovery efforts"?



We will soon find out.

Harper is moulded to believe in the right wing, conservative worldview, so aptly summarized by George Lakoff.
 
Calgary floods June 2013

That view precludes proactive steps by the central government to help citizens in distress, beyond removing them from immediate danger. We saw that in the reaction of Republicans to the hurricane's impact on the eastern seaboard. They resisted Obama's decision to fund recovery efforts with meaningful amounts, so much so that the Governor one state – a Republican – publicly distanced himself from the GOP and sided with Obama.

Harper showed a similar reaction to the need for a central government stimulus after the 2007 Meltdown. His attitude was that of a small-government, handsoff conservative: individuals must care for themselves, and not look to the government to fund them.

Will we see the same reaction this time from the prime minister?

Platitudes, troops to help clear up initial damage, but no meaningful financial help from Ottawa to the hundreds of thousands of citizens who  have suffered losses from these devastating floods?

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