OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in the House on Commons on Thursday on the situation in Fort McMurray Alberta.
Here is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech:
It is with a heavy heart that all Canadians have watched the devastation unfold over the last few days. Over 80,000 residents have been evacuated in the largest fire evacuation in Alberta’s history. Homes have been destroyed, neighbourhoods have gone up in flames. The footage we have seen of cars racing down highways while fire rages on all sides is nothing short of terrifying.
I know I speak for all members of this House, and 36 million Canadians, when I say that our hearts go out to all affected families. We are thinking of and praying for the people of Fort McMurray.
Though Alberta’s loss is profound, we will get through this tragedy together, as friends, as neighbours, as Canadians. The people of Fort McMurray can count on the full support of this government. We will weather this storm together, and together, we will rebuild.
While it is too soon to comprehend the full extent of the damage, we know that it is far reaching and utterly devastating.
I have spoken with Premier Notley, and our orders of government are in close contact as we monitor the situation every step of the way.
I want to assure the people of Alberta that we are doing everything we can to help.
The Government Operations Centre, or GOC, which is under Public Safety Canada, provides strategic-level coordination on behalf of the Government of Canada. The GOC also helps assemble the necessary resources and prepare for deployment.
The GOC is monitoring the situation in Fort McMurray and reporting on it around the clock. It is sharing information with federal authorities and the Government of Alberta. The GOC is connected to multiple partners, including law enforcement, emergency management organizations, and non-governmental organizations, to name just a few.
The Government Operations Centre is the hub for real-time information gathering. It is a reliable source of information as the situation evolves. With many years of experience to its credit, the GOC has developed efficient systems and products to help respond to emergencies.
The people at the government operation centre know what they are doing and do their job well. They have been in communication with various partners on how to properly address this crisis. These are partners like Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, National Defence, Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the RCMP, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, and emergency management organizations like the Canadian Red Cross.
In addition, the people of Fort McMurray have the support of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Canadian Forces are always ready to help in times of crisis anytime and anywhere, including during natural disasters.
The Department of National Defence is currently working with federal and provincial authorities to determine how our troops can best contribute to the rescue effort.
Currently the RCAF is deploying four CH-146 Griffin helicopters to Fort McMurray and one CC-130J Hercules to CFB Cold Lake.
The RCAF is ready to provide support to the Province of Alberta in the provision of air assets to assist with evacuation efforts, deliver essential aid to affected regions, and transport firefighting personnel and equipment to these regions.
In addition to the efforts of our Forces, as well as the GOC’s coordination of information, supplies, and services for response and recovery activity, we are announcing further help for the people of Alberta.
Today, I am pleased to announce that in addition to the Government of Canada providing future assistance through the disaster financial assistance arrangement, the government will also be matching individual charitable donations made to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the disaster relief effort.
The outpouring of goodwill and compassion from Canadians right across the country has not only been inspirational, it has been entirely characteristic of who we are, and the fundamental human values we share as Canadians.
People are opening their doors and donating to organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, and our government will continue to offer its steadfast support in the difficult days and weeks ahead.
Personally, I have been in Fort McMurray four or five times over the past few years. Because one of those instances was a few visits for a by-election, I got to do a lot of door-to-door visits. I met with a number of homeowners, people who were rightly proud of the homes they had built in that beautiful town. To think now of the number of doors of homes that I knocked on and visited—that all of us as politicians visit regularly—and to see the pictures from Fort McMurray right now that could have been taken in a war-torn corner of the world instead of our own backyard, is a reminder of how Canadians will and must stand together to support our friends and neighbours in this difficult time.
To those people who are displaced, please remember that we are resilient, we are Canadians, and we will make it through this most difficult time together.