Three Alberta politicians, including the MP for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, are criticizing the provincial government for how they managed the wildfire.
David Yurdiga, along with M.P. Deepak Obhrai P.C., and M.P. Rachael Harder released a joint statement on Thursday, saying the NDP’s handling of last spring’s event was “nothing short of incompetent”.
“According to information obtained from a series of FOIs to the Alberta government, the NDP’s management of the Fort McMurray forest fire was nothing short of incompetent. There were problems at every stage of the crisis; they were ill-prepared to prevent the fire, slow to intervene, and they put displaced citizens in danger during re-entry,” the statement reads.
The statement also says on May 5th, a day after the provincial state of emergency was announced, the Issues Manager emailed officials asking what firefighting resources the province had.
“This demonstrates a clear lack of readiness and organization from the Premier’s office.”
In a separate statement sent to Mix News, Yurdiga says the Canadian military knew the Alberta government needed help before the Alberta government did.
“They sent the military home, while the fire was still out of control. It took seven weeks for the province to get the fire under control after that. We still needed help, says Yurdiga. “It seems like some people in the Alberta government just want to watch the oil and gas industry burn.”
The MP’s also criticized the NDP for making cuts to wildfire prevention and management programs in the 2016 budget, including reducing Airtanker contracts by $5.1 million.
“While Alberta’s political elite managed to avoid the effects of the wildfire, hundreds of thousands of Fort McMurray residents were forced find shelter in trailers, sleep on the floors of recreation centres and watch from afar as their possessions were destroyed. The government’s slow reaction time combined with budget cuts to wildfire prevention resources and inability to properly organize a re-entry plan meant citizens weren’t able to return home until June 1st, at the earliest.”
In an email sent to Mix News, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry O`Neil Carlier says independent third party reviews of the response to the Wood Buffalo wildfire are ongoing, and they look forward to the experts’ analyses and recommendations.
“The Wood Buffalo wildfire was an incredibly scary and traumatic experience for the families who live there. We are proud of the first responders who stepped up immediately and put their lives on the line to keep Albertans safe. We will always stand by their hard work and their support for Albertans throughout their fight.”
No word on when that review is expected to be completed.