Canadian forestry officials predicted on Thursday that the ongoing, out-of-control wildfires burning across the country and polluting large swathes of America will continue through August, breaking records for the amount of territory burned.
Canada has already documented one of the most severe wildfire seasons in recent memory, the result of a variety of factors, including a lack of forest management, the absence of a national fire service, and underfunding of regional fire agencies. Quebec, one of the most-affected provinces, made the bizarre decision in June to reject firefighters from Montreal, according to the city’s mayor, to wait for firefighters imported from France and other foreign countries.
Despite recruiting thousands of emergency personnel from America, France, Costa Rica, Portugal, South Korea, and other countries, 639 fires were burning throughout Canada as of Wednesday, over half of them classified as “out-of-control.”
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Natural Resources Canada, the agency responsible for the affected territory, revealed on Thursday that the fires had burned 8.8 million hectares of land as of June 27, about ten times more than the yearly average, according to the Canadian Press.
The head of Canada’s Northern Forestry Centre, Michael Norton, said on Thursday that Canadians and their neighbors should expect the emergency situation to continue for the rest of the summer.
“The latest projections indicate that fire activity could remain above normal through July and August across much of the country, from British Columbia to Quebec,” he asserted, claiming that the scope of territory affected by the fires is why the government has failed to resolve the situation. “The fact that so many fires spread across Canada and continued to burn for so long, in addition to the many fires that broke out afterwards, is unprecedented in the annals and partly explains why this year has been difficult.”
The fires have sent mammoth plumes of polluted air across the Canadian landscape and down to the United States, particularly devastating the air quality of the American Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic. In early June, New York City documented the worst air quality of any city on the planet; neighboring New Jersey experienced the worst air quality in half a century. Detroit, Michigan, across the border from Canada, and Chicago, Illinois, suffered similar dangerous smoke plumes towards the end of June.
The fires have affected over 100 million Americans in 23 states.
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The government of President Joe Biden has blamed “climate change” rather than government mismanagement for the wildfires, offering criticism-free aid to fellow leftist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau has allowed the various provincial governments affected to attempt to address the wildfires independently, creating a lack of coherent deployment of firefighters and poor coordination. The government’s lack of management also means Canada’s provinces have had to organize firefighters imported from 11 nations — America, France, South Korea, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and South Africa, among others — into teams to address the hundreds of fires functionally.
Canada has no national fire service and no federal forest management service. It does not practice active forest management — the removal of flammable underbrush and other dangerous debris from the forests before the fire season starts — nationwide; provinces independently decide how much management to engage in. Quebec reportedly abstained from forest management this year. Canada also has no equivalent to America’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), only the largely defanged Public Safety Canada (PSC) agency.
Within Canada, the Trudeau government has faced years of criticism for poor maintenance of the nation’s forests.
“Research on forests in British Columbia shows that in centuries past, small- to moderate-size fires were common every several decades. Underbrush and deadfall on the forest floor would burn away, but many trees would survive,” the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper of record, explained in 2021. With the elimination of small-scale fires, the newspaper continued, and the development of forests for lumber, they became far more flammable and “full of deadfall, which is basically kindling.”
The newspaper blamed “decades of bad decisions” for increasingly severe fire seasons in recent years.
Only minimal pressure currently exists on the Trudeau government to prepare a better response for the coming year, as high-level officials in Ottawa and Washington blame the allegedly inevitable effects of “climate change” for the ongoing international ecological crisis. One lawmaker, far-left New Democratic Party Parliament member Richard Cannings, urged legislative action in June to create a more cohesive federal response to the fires.
“It’s clear that we need to re-evaluate the federal role in wildfire protection and response and develop a more proactive process instead of the present reactive one,” Mr. Cannings said at the time, according to the New York Times.
“We’re seeing more and more of these fires because of climate change,” Trudeau insisted in June, shortly before departing to Kyiv, Ukraine, to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky. This week, Trudeau focused his efforts on urging American singer Taylor Swift to tour Canada.
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