Statement made on 07 June 2011 by Senator Roméo Dallaire
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:
Honourable senators, I would like to welcome the minister back. This is an interesting atmosphere for our return to school.
Today, I am wearing a blue suit and a blue tie — it is a UNICEF tie — and I notice that the minister is wearing red. This shows that reconciliation may be possible in an environment where we are not always focused on politics.
During this session, I am going to attempt to ask much briefer questions, and I hope that the minister will provide equally brief responses, so that we can make the most of the time available.
My question is about the Prime Minister's attitude to the flooding that has occurred in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
I went to visit the troops and the armed forces headquarters three weeks after the flooding began. I even met with seniors who had been displaced so that the headquarters could operate. I was thus able to see the extent of the damage.
This region has been receiving visits from ministers left and right; however, when such a crisis occurs, the people do not only want to see second- or third-rank officials. They also want to see their leader so that he can encourage them and the troops in the field.
I am once again wondering why the Prime Minister took so long to make a whirlwind visit — so fast he did not even get his feet wet — to assess the magnitude of the crisis and the associated health risks. A state of emergency has been declared and the presence of the Armed Forces is still required in the cleanup process.
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