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LETTER: Military should continue to respond to disasters

Creating civilian force 'would just be setting up another bureaucracy,' says letter writer
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OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article regarding the military’s role in disaster response, published Oct. 4.
OrilliaMatters recently carried an article in which Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, suggested that Canada needs to better prepare for natural disasters and reduce its reliance on the Canadian Armed Forces.

He suggests that Canada needs to rely less on the military and instead build a civilian force to respond to once-in-a-century storms and disasters.

With all due respect I disagree.

In the early 1980s Canada was faced with natural disasters. Parliament responded by sending in members of the Canadian Armed Forces. As I remember in discussions with my colleagues we treated it as a non-partisan issue. We felt it was both a prudent use of the taxpayers’ dollars and a useful training exercise for the members of the armed forces.

That sentiment was not shared by the military as they didn’t deem it to be something a member of the armed forces should be doing. We felt that employing troops in disaster areas was a wonderful training opportunity, a savings for the taxpayer, and immediate assistance for those suffering from the crisis.

Building a civilian force would just be setting up another bureaucracy rather than using personnel who are not fighting wars and training at the moment. Has Mr. Sauvé costed his proposal? I don’t think so. Where would the headquarters be? What would the civilian force do when there is a lull in natural disasters and their services were not required anywhere?

The suggestion for a civilian force to respond to natural disasters would be a taxpayer disaster.

Doug Lewis