EDMONTON, AB: The NDP government’s failure to explain the breakdowns in communication surrounding the Fort McMurray evacuation and repeated attempts to mislead Albertans about the status of the two Fort McMurray wildfire reports are further evidence of the need for a public inquiry, the Wildrose Official Opposition said Friday.
The damning findings of the report showed communication errors during the evacuation and a lack of readiness to fight and contain the fire after it was discovered on May 1. On Thursday, no government official was able to answer one of the most important questions: whether or not the evacuation order should have come earlier.
Despite the report sitting on the government’s desk since March, both Agriculture & Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier and Premier Rachel Notley repeatedly insisted that the reports either were not finished or had not been read.
- On May 3, the Premier said “we’ve got two reviews underway provincially … and so they’re not complete as of yet, but we expect that they will be in about two to four weeks.”
- Again on May 3, when asked if she knew if anything in the reviews had been undertaken, the Premier said, “we’re going to wait until the reports come out with the full context.”
- On June 1, Carlier told Postmedia he had yet to see the final report into the Fort McMurray fire.
- Again, on June 1, the Premier said the two independent reports were “imminent”.
- On the same day in Question Period, the Premier said quote “we … are looking forward to receiving the two independent reports that we’ve commissioned.”
“There were lives lost as part of the evacuation, and it’s a miracle there weren’t more. It’s inexcusable that so many people had to watch flames sweep over their houses and cars, and still haven’t got honest answers from the government,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said. “The fact the government held onto these reports for months to try and whitewash their findings has only further eroded the trust of the people of Fort McMurray. It’s an insult, and they deserve better. They deserve a public inquiry.”
“It’s clear the government was more worried about trying to spin the report’s findings than being fully open and transparent with Albertans,” Wildrose Shadow Emergency Response & Disaster Preparedness Minister Dave Hanson said. “There are more questions than answers coming out of these reports and we need to get to the bottom of this.”