Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

December 14, 2010 19:10 ET

Canadian Forces Assist Stranded Motorists in South Western Ontario

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2010) - The Government of Canada was pleased to respond to a request for federal assistance from the Province of Ontario, to assist stranded motorists on the snow-covered Western portion of Highway 402, in South Western Ontario.

As part of the federal assistance, two CH-146 Search and Rescue Griffon helicopters evacuated motorists to warming stations established in the vicinity. The helicopters moved overnight and as soon as weather permitted began providing assistance to those in distress. A CH-130 Hercules aircraft provided aerial support and weather assessment throughout. Three other Griffon helicopters were standing by to assist. Other provincial efforts permitted the evacuation of approximately 150 motorists.

"The swift and impressive response by the Canadian Forces to the needs of those stranded in the Sarnia area by last night's violent snow storm makes Canadians proud," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "Canadians can rest assured that Canadian Forces and our Government are ready to help them in times of distress."

Air operations and ground efforts are ongoing and will continue as long as required to ensure the safety of all affected people. Provincial authorities have made significant progress in clearing Highway 402 to access the affected area and facilitate further evacuations.

"The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the situation in South Western Ontario, and stands ready to help the Province of Ontario in any way we can," said the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister for Public Safety. "As always, our Government stands ready to assist Canadians during emergencies, and has been working closely with the Province of Ontario and the Canadian Forces to ensure we have a robust and coordinated response in support of this emergency situation."

The Canadian Forces (CF) is working closely with its provincial partners to determine what other unique military capabilities may be needed to further assist the motorists. Ground assets, such as snowmobiles and tracked vehicles are being prepared and will be pre-positioned in the event their use is requested. Assessments are currently being conducted to determine future tasks on a priority basis.

"Our raison d'être is the safety and security of Canada and of all Canadians. As part of Canada Command, Joint Task Force Central was given the mandate to lead the CF ground effort and is standing ready to assist as required. We will continue to work with our Federal and Provincial partners to ensure the affected motorists receive all the assistance they need", said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command.

Canada Command is responsible for Canadian Forces' routine and contingency operations in Canada and North America. Its roles include sovereignty patrols, air and maritime search and rescue, civil and humanitarian aid (disaster relief), support to law enforcement agencies and support to major public events. Canada Command is supported by regional commands located across the country and continuously monitors developments across North America and its maritime approaches, tracking everything from threatening natural phenomena such as hurricanes and floods, to security threats such as drug smuggling and terrorism.

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