Throw The Damn DART

Throw The Darn DARTThe Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART for short, is a specialized team of about 200 Canadian Forces soldiers that flies into disaster areas around the world to provide drinking water and medical treatment until long-term aid arrives. The military created DART in 1996 because of its experience in Rwanda two years earlier, when international relief organizations arrived too late to save thousands of people from a cholera epidemic. The DART was last used five years ago when a massive earthquake hit Turkey.

Hmmm, let me think for a moment. Is there anywhere in the world right now that would benefit from the presence of such a team? Has there been a recent disaster resulting in a desperate need for water purification before disease sets in killing thousands? Oh yes, that's right, there was that tsunami disaster that has so far killed over 120,000 people from Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Maldives and Somalia. When Defence Minister Bill Graham was asked why the DART hadn't been sent to south Asia he originally said it was because it had not yet been requested. He's since backtracked on those statements and said we're looking at whether we should deploy the DART.

It upsets me as a Canadian that we have this 200-member rapid response unit, which can operate a mobile command centre, a medical facility, and water purification equipment capable of producing 100,000 litres of clean drinking water and it's here on hold while those who desperately need it die. While Graham fiddles his thumbs our fearless Prime Minister Paul Martin continues to vacation in Morocco. Send the damn DART. There is a disaster and we need to respond. Time is of the essence.


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