The devastating and ongoing wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta have resulted in many families losing their homes and livelihoods; all of their material possessions now turned to ash. The fires continue to grow, and thousands of people who had to flee to the north of Fort McMurray in Tuesday’s city-wide evacuation remain in harm’s way.
While most Canadians have shown an outpouring of support, an article in the Huffington Post highlights the minority who are trying to use this continuing tragedy for personal or political gain. Former provincial NDP candidate, Tom Moffat, referred to the natural disaster as “karmic” in a tweet on Wednesday. Many others have called the situation ‘ironic’, claiming Fort McMurray’s oil sands economy contributes to climate change, which causes wildfires.
There has been severe backlash for many who have made statements using this notion of ‘karma’ to blame the residents and oil field workers in Fort McMurray for this horrendous event. “There is no karma to be found, here”, writes Jen Gerson of the National Post. “Those fires seem to have largely missed the actual oil sands. Instead they hit homes and regular businesses as those same oil sands work camps have welcomed thousands of fleeing residents desperate for food and shelter.”
In response to the blame being placed on the oil industry, Kevin Libin of the Financial Post explains in this editorial how oil and petroleum products saved the lives of Fort McMurrayites. Gasoline powered the vehicles to drive families to safety, powers the firefighting aircraft and is the reason for the work camps that sheltered thousands in their time of need.
In his Point of View segment Rex Murphy stated: “Here’s the real ‘karma’ in the Fort Mac tragedy – and it’s not karma at all. Albertans were good to us [when Newfounlanders were suffering during the cod collapse ], so let’s be good, and better, to them now. There can be nothing higher or more immediate on our national agenda, as citizens or government, than generating a perfect storm of goodwill and assistance for the people of Fort McMurray as they shoulder the multiple burdens – personal, economic and psychological – of this woeful calamity.”
“If you want to know, really know, what it means to be a true neighbour, ready to help in hard times, go to Alberta” he continues, “it’s the prairie code, and in our best times, its the Canadian code too. Every citizen is your neighbour.”
This is not the time to place blame or play politics. This is the time to come together and support the residents of Fort McMurray and northern Alberta who need our help right now.