Nenshi, Redford and Harper showing strong leadership on Calgary flood

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

We all remember the criticism that George W. Bush took in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As explained by journalist Kenneth Walsh, he appeared "slow off the mark as millions of people suffered." Many, including Walsh, felt that his mishandling of Katrina left a big black mark on his presidency.

Thank goodness our political leaders aren't 'pulling a George W.' in Calgary where flood waters have forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

[ Related: Calgary flood evacuation grows, zoo's lions and tigers could be next ]

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has been front and centre cutting short a trip to Eastern Canada to come back home and take charge. He's been cool under fire and just stayed up the whole night helping to coordinate efforts.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford, was in flood zone on Thursday night and vowed to help victims "put their lives back together," according to the Canadian Press.

And Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in close contact with both Redford and Nenshi and will be flying to Calgary to tour the flood damage, with the premier, on Friday afternoon. Moreover, according to CTV News, the feds have already deployed 600 Canadian Forces members to the worst-hit-areas with another 600 to follow.

[ Full Coverage: Yahoo! Canada News' full coverage of Alberta floods ]

Political communications consultant Marcel Wieder says that the public looks to politicians for information and leadership during natural disasters and on that count "all three levels [of government] are doing a good job."

"As a rule of thumb a political leader should be on the ground in the areas affected," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"They must however be mindful not to interfere with any efforts in dealing with responding to the flooding. They also need to have the full facts before they weigh in. They should defer to fire and rescue officials who would give the most current situation assessment. Their role is to be supportive and empathetic."

Wieder offered up two real life examples: One good and one not so good.

"[In the United States], Obama was able to demonstrate on several occasions his ability to look presidential and human during events like hurricane Sandy and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. We want our leaders to convey to those affected that the country is with you during this difficult time and that we will help get you back on your feet," he said.

"During the Manitoba floods of 1997 Jean Chretien came under criticism for not suspending the federal election campaign.

"While that is not the case here, politicians must weigh very carefully how and when they react to natural or man made disasters."

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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