Transcript: Politics in the Time of Disaster | Jan 11, 2011

TVO WEB SPECIAL

A clip shows the title “Boxing Day 2004” and in the background shows palm trees and waves crashing over the sand.

A male voice says AFTER DISASTER STRIKES, WHAT'S
IT LIKE BEING A POLITICIAN?
TO FIND OUT I ASKED FORMER
MINISTER OF DEFENCE
BILL GRAHAM.

Pictures appear of Paul Martin and Pierre Pettigrew with the state building behind them.

A male voice continues AFTER THE 2004 TSUNAMI,
HE'S PUT IN CHARGE
WHILE THE PRIME MINISTER AND
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ARE OUT OF THE
COUNTRY ON VACATION.

A fast clip shows the military walking, healthcare volunteers checking up on a child and mother, a military officer directing a crowd of people, then a Red Cross flag flying over an abandoned building, and more military carrying wood.

A caption reads “After the Tsunami” and shows a building after the tsunami.

A male voice continues THIS IS THE STORY OF
RESPONDING TO ONE OF
THE BIGGEST HUMANITARIAN
DISASTERS IN RECENT HISTORY.

A caption appears. It reads “Bill Graham. Minister of National Defence 2004-2006.”

Bill is in his sixties and has short grey hair. He wears a black suit with a purple and white striped shirt and a purple tie. Bill sits in an office.

Bill says I WAS ON HOLIDAYS
IN MONTEBELLO
WITH MY FAMILY,
AND I GOT A
PHONE CALL SAYING
THAT THERE'D BEEN
THIS INCREDIBLE
DISASTER OF THE TSUNAMI
AND TO TURN ON THE
TELEVISION AND WATCH IT
BECAUSE WE HAD TO BE
FIGURING OUT WHAT THE
CANADIAN GOVERNMENT
RESPONSE WOULD BE.
AS A SORT OF AN IDEA OF
THE FOG OF WAR, IF YOU LIKE,
OUR ORIGINAL RESPONSE,
AS YOU'LL RECALL, WAS
FAIRLY MODEST.
IT WAS 4 MILLION DOLLARS.

(music plays)

A clip shows soldiers in military fatigues as they walk on the dirt road surrounded by trees, next a bulldozer clearing away trees and rubble, a plastic bottle being filled with water, a healthcare professional cleaning a child in a bath and lastly stacks of blue bags being moved by soldiers.

The caption changes to “Disaster Assistance Response Team.”

The male voice continues THE DART IS MADE UP
OF ABOUT 200 SOLDIERS
WHO CAN BE QUICKLY
DISPATCHED ACROSS THE GLOBE
TO HELP OUT WHEN A
DISASTER STRIKES.

A clip shows Bill Graham in a studio being interviewed; he sits opposite a woman sitting in an identical green chair.

The caption changes to “Studio 2. January 2005.”

A male voice continues AFTER THE TSUNAMI HIT,
BILL GRAHAM'S GOVERNMENT WAS
CRITICISED FOR TAKING
TOO LONG TO SEND THE DART.
THE TSUNAMI HIT 8
DAYS AGO, HOWEVER.
WHY HAS IT TAKEN
SO LONG?

Bill says THE TROUBLE WITH
THE DART IN A WAY IS,
FROM A BUREAUCRATIC
POINT OF VIEW, IT'S A
MILITARY INSTRUMENT BUT
WHEN YOU SEND IT ABROAD,
YOU HAVE TO GET CEDED TO
BE WILLING TO PAY FOR IT.
AND USUALLY ONE DEPARTMENT
DOESN'T WANT TO PAY FOR
THE DEPLOYMENT OF ANOTHER
DEPARTMENT'S ASSETS.
YOU HAVE TO SORT OF GET
THE PRIME MINISTER TO ACT
AS A BIT OF AN INTERMEDIARY
TO SAY, WELL, LOOK, YEA
WE'RE GOING TO USE
THAT INSTRUMENT,
SO FIND THE MONEY IN THE
BUDGET TO BE ABLE TO DO IT.
THE OTHER PROBLEM WITH THE
DART, OF COURSE, WAS --
I DON'T SEE IT'S A PROBLEM,
BUT BECAUSE IT WAS AN ASSET --
BUT BECAUSE IT'S MILITARY AND
IT WAS GOING INTO AN AREA OF
CONCERN, WE INSISTED THAT THE
MILITARY BE ARMED APPROPRIATELY
TO BE ABLE TO SECURE THE
CIRCUMFERENCE AND THE
PERIMETER OF THE DART, AND
THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT
WAS VERY HESITANT TO ALLOW
SOMEBODY ELSE'S ARMED
SOLDIERS ON THEIR TERRITORY.

A clip shows a room crowded with Sri Lankan people.

The caption changes to “Knowing What’s Going On.”

Bill says I MEAN, WE HAD OUR OFFICIALS
REPORTING TO US FROM
FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
FROM DEFENCE.
THERE WERE SATELLITE
IMAGES COMING IN.
THERE WERE OTHER FOREIGN
GOVERNMENTS INFORMING US
OF WHAT HAD HAPPENED.
I'D SAY THERE'S A COLLECTION
OF SOURCES OF INFORMATION.
SOME ARE FROM OTHER GOVERNMENTS,
SOME ARE FROM YOUR OWN NEWS.

The caption changes to “Disaster Coverage.”

A small orange tv appears and on the screen shows Sri Lankan people being rescued.

Bill continues THE TV PROVIDES YOU WITH
THE, WITH THE INSTANTANEOUS VISUAL
EFFECTS, BUT TV ITSELF
CAN BE QUITE MISLEADING
BECAUSE IT CAN SHOW YOU AN
ISOLATED INCIDENT IN A FILM.
YOU MAY RECALL THAT
HERE IN TORONTO, AT THE
TIME OF THE G-20 THERE WAS
A CAR ON FIRE IN TORONTO,
AND PEOPLE IN VANCOUVER
THOUGHT THE WHOLE OF THE
CITY OF TORONTO WAS ON FIRE.
SO TV CAN BOTH BE
ILLUMINATING AND MISLEADING.

The caption changes to “Lessons for Haiti.” The background displays miles of tent homes.

Ben says WHILE THE INDIVIDUAL CANADIANS
WHO ARE GENEROUS OFTEN WANT
TO GIVE CLOTHING OR PROVIDE
GOODS OR SOMETHING AND
PUT TOGETHER A CONTAINER
AND SEND IT OVER,
USUALLY THIS IS A PROBLEM
BECAUSE THE CONTAINER HAS TO BE
TAKEN, IT HAS TO BE DEALT WITH,
IT HAS TO BE DISTRIBUTED.
I MEAN, FRANKLY, THE LOCAL
COMMUNITY WOULD RATHER HAVE
THE MONEY AND BE ABLE
TO SPEND IT THEMSELVES
RATHER THAN HAVE US
SEND THINGS OVER.
AND I THINK WE'VE PRETTY
WELL LEARNED THAT.

Produced by Craig Desson (TVO Archives) Dart footage via The Department of National Defence.

Watch: Politics in the Time of Disaster