Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bush thanks Canada for Katrina help

Okay, okay, I know I just spent a long post criticizing his lack of leadership, but Bush isn't all bad, and today, I'm happy to report, he thanked Canada for helping with the relief and recovery efforts down in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast:

“Canada has sent ships with disaster supplies,” the president said in televised comments during the swearing-in for Karen Hughes, the State Department's new undersecretary for public diplomacy.

“Air Canada's planes assisted in the evacuation.”

“To every nation and every province and every local community across the globe that is standing with the American people and with those who hurt on the Gulf Coast, our entire nation thanks you for your support.”

And:

Other Americans, too, have praised Canada in the wake of Katrina — praise that comes despite years of trade tensions between Canada and the United States over softwood lumber, cattle and other irritants.

Louisiana state Senator Walter Boasso says there are Canadian flags “flying everywhere” in St. Bernard Parish, near New Orleans, after a Vancouver search-and-rescue team rescued 119 people last week before the U.S. military showed up. The community's fire chief also heaped praise on the squad.

In Los Angeles, TV news anchor Hal Fishman of KTLA Channel 5 lauded Canada's assistance on Thursday night, saying “the country has embraced us and offered support on myriad levels.” He added Canada stood above other countries in terms of the types of support and the different sectors that have offered help.

Three Canadian warships — the destroyer HMCS Athabaskan, frigates HMCS Ville de Quebec and HMCS Toronto — and the Coast Guard ship Sir William Alexander left Halifax on Tuesday packed with relief supplies, helicopters to deliver them, and about 1,000 Canadian Forces personnel ready for a variety of chores. They are expected to arrive off the U.S. Gulf Coast some time over the weekend.

Air Canada provided shuttle flights to help in the evacuation of about 25,000 people from New Orleans to San Antonio, Texas. The airline also used an Airbus passenger jet to fly a cargo of bottled water and relief supplies to New Orleans.

Canadian military planes have transported Canadian Red Cross and government officials to work in the disaster areas. Some 35 Canadian military divers are helping with inspecting dikes and clearing waterways. A shipment of supplies requested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has arrived in Atlanta from Canada. Donations are pouring in across the country, with a total of $6.9-million raised for the relief effort.

Our friendship trumps our political differences. Whatever the politics of Katrina, whoever deserves the blame, the important thing was that we all pulled together to make a difference during one of the worst crises in American history. As a Canadian, one who has spent a lot of time down in the U.S., all I can say is that I'm proud that we were able to help. I truly believe that Americans can always count on us to be there for them.

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