Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard AprMay 2018

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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I n 2010, I was building components for large camouflage netting and shelter systems for the U.S. Depart- ment of Defense in the Dominican Republic. We also had an active partnership with a French company called Musthane, which made collapsible water bladders to contain clean water, primarily sold for global defence requirements. At 16:53 on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, neighbouring Haiti experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake with at least 52 af- tershocks. Well over 100,000 people were killed and 3 million affected– mostly dis- placed from their homes without shelter or clean water. Prior to the earthquake, Haiti was al- ready such a poor country dealing with government corruption, in particular around foreign aid. At the time, I had capacity at our factory in the Dominican Republic, a mere 5 hour drive across the border. Meanwhile, my family-owned business, headquartered in Guelph, ON, Canada, was manufacturing actual shelters in over 220,000 square feet of space. My inexperience, which can be my biggest as- set, told me that it was a no-brainer to try to sell or partially donate shelters to help this natural disaster. What happened next still bothers me. Over the course of the next 6 months to a year, while millions of people struggled with no roof over their heads or clean water, a three ring circus with loose elephants and falling gymnasts ensued between NGO procurement agen- cies, the Haitian government, and the long list of foreign governments looking to provide funding to help the disaster. Over $500M USD was raised to help the disaster in Haiti, but working on the ground with NGOs made it seem like there was a real disconnect between the funds raised and relief showing up on the ground. Lots of small factors contributed to this – corruption throughout the chain, major logistical issues, extreme on-the- ground confusion, and of course politics between various governments, levels of governments and NGOs all interfering and causing delays and mistakes in the support efforts. One thought I have had since that expe- rience is that the Government (or even the average person wanting to donate) could help a natural disaster by buying Canadian products/technologies and donating them directly to the disaster relief situations. We have a strong, vibrant defence industry in Canada, and by extension, there are sig- nificant dual-use technologies that apply to disaster relief support. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to disaster relief teChnology watCh 52 APRIL/MAY 2018 is well positioned to deliver in disaster relief by niCole Verkindt deFenCe teChnology Container Truss Weatherhaven Tulmar Safety Systems

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