Have you ever gotten one of those political fliers in the mail? I have. Normally, I don't pay them much attention as they are full of loaded questions that reverberate within the politicians own little echo chamber. Usually these things find their way into my recycling bin long before they ever see the inside of my house. This particular one from my MP, David Yurdiga, however, caught my attention given the recent events that have affected us here in Fort McMurray.
I did email my MP about it but given that he never responds to email (or at least mine) I figured I'd post a response to it here on my blog in the faint hope that the guy may actually come across it. It's pure political pandering at its worst. But it's also interesting to see just how these things are structured and how they operate.
The first thing I noticed was the large header..."Canadians Last?". So congratulations, Dave, you got my attention. Unfortunately, things unravel from there as he tries to conflate two completely different issues, funding for climate change projects and federal relief funding for the Fort McMurray wildfire. Why not compare it with funding received by communities who have also faced natural disasters like the Slave Lake wildfire or the Calgary Flood. Yurdiga is comparing apples and oranges here so his comparison is essentially meaningless. While his figure of $2.65 billion is correct (I looked it up), he neglects to mention that this amount is spread out over 5 years. If he wants to make a more relevant comparison, why not mention the amount of money his former government gave to Haiti? That would be $1 billion spanning 2006 to 2012. This tops the amount he claims is to be paid to Albertans. Of course, to do so would undercut his entire argument.
As a result of the Slave Lake fire, the federal government ended up doling out $1,4 billion. Given that the Fort McMurray fire was much larger and affected a much larger community and required more resources to fight it, we can expect the $0.3 billion Yurdiga cites to rise significantly over time. Obviously, Yurdiga is ignorant about federal-provincial cost-sharing formulas. (Don't worry, Dave. I know I just used some big words there). Rather than swallow your biased nonsense I happened to, look that up too. Clearly, the majority of the cost will be borne by the federal government given Alberta's smaller population. Truth is, the full costs aren't known yet. I'm curious to know what the final tally will be rather than grasping at the first figures that I come across, as Yurdiga apparently has.
On the opposite side, Yurdiga takes a swing at the PM. Now, to be honest, I'm no Trudeau fan myself. But, this issue has already been debated and dealt with, Yurdiga. You're chiding the PM for not visiting an active disaster zone. Seriously? I note that you just mention Alberta and not Fort McMurray specifically. Was Rona Ambrose here during the fire as well? Were you? When were you here? Come to think of it......where was Yurdiga during the entire episode? I recall seeing a lot of our Premier and Opposition Leader during this time as one would expect. I don't know how many interviews Notley and Brian Jean did in the early days of the crisis. I can only recall seeing one single interview that Yurdiga did, in Lac La Biche where he has an office. He isn't exactly a smooth speaker and frankly, it was painful to listen to. I only recall seeing my MP once (as I was also in Lac La Biche for a few days) scurrying around the evacuation centre there. I recall seeing him staying pretty close to his handlers. I don't remember seeing him talking to very many evacuees. So before Mr. Yurdiga points fingers, he really should think of his own actions, or lack thereof, first.
And finally, there is this little gem.....the loaded question at the end. Clearly, you cannot walk and chew gum at the same time since you can either support Canadians or supporting other counties. In Yurdiga's little world you can't do both. While I am not going to deny that some people in our community were hit hard by this tragedy, I find the language here a bit over the top. Certainly I'm not desperate. Ten weeks have passed since the evacuation. In that time, I've been back to my house, back to my work and back to my regular life. If I was in another country (like the ones Yurdiga feels we shouldn't send money to) I'd likely be homeless, jobless and possibly even dead from cholera or typhus. Perhaps armed militants would be inviting me to join them. Who knows? But what I do know, Mr. Yurdiga is that I am not desperate. I am not a victim.
Please DO NOT use my community as your own little personal football to pander to the ignorant for votes. If anything, THAT is shameful.