Here at this blog I have written a fair bit about Canada’s attempts to get needed medical equipment and personal protective equipment over the past couple of weeks. That writing has focused particularly around the actions of one certain ally, their attempts to deny other countries this equipment and their attempts to keep it for themselves.

Seeing such a selfish reaction by our biggest trading partner has been striking, yet at the same time it is not totally shocking from the current Trump Administration. That has forced many countries to take extreme measures and reactions in attempts to get the equipment they need, not just to find it but to ensure that it actually gets delivered. It is with that mind I read an interesting piece from CBC.ca on what Canada has been doing in China work in this environment. And really folks, it is quite the story:

First off, I can’t help but think to give a big tip of the hat to all the civil servants at Global Affairs Canada, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Canadian Embassy in China and alike for putting together a plan that’s doing everything it can to assure that this equipment gets to Canada. Because of how other nations have literally seen their orders bought out from under them on the runways of Asia, Canadian officials realized that not just finding the material was a change. Ensuring that it actually got delivered after being found was the name of the game.

In order to help with that, Canada hired a French logistics firm to help ensure that delivery but there was a key part of this that ensures that which might seem like a simple idea; they got a warehouse in Shanghai to store the materials before they were shipped. What had hurt some of our other allies who had their materials bought out from under them was that it seems that the companies who made the materials or their brokers were basically delivering them straight to the plane. That kept them in their hands until the last moment and gave them the chance to sell them off at a higher price if presented with the opportunity.

To avoid that scenario, Canada is using that firm to take possession of the materials faster then shipping them out. It may seem like a small thing, but in this situation, it’s proven itself to be paramount and its problem solving like that which has gone a long way here. That hasn’t been the only problem for getting these materials back to Canada where they’re needed. How to ship them back? Most goods shipped to Canada from China are shipped by container ship, but that won’t work this time for simple time lags alone. That has led to an interesting response from some Canadian companies, one that harkened back to a past time:

Another tip of the hat here, this time to the folks at CargoJet and Air Canada. Reading this part of the story reminded me of the stories about the Berlin airlift during the Cold War, as pilots stepped up to keep that community going as they were surrounded on the ground. In this case, we’re seeing these two airlines step up to fly those materials back to Canada, but also taking some extraordinary steps to do so. Look at that image of that Air Canada Boeing 777, stripped of its seats to make more room for needed cargo. That’s quite the sight to behold.

Also it’s great to see these pilots stepping up, many of whom have basically seen their usual commercial traffic work dry up because of Covid-19, to do their part in this fight. It’s a great example from the airlines of how they are changing their businesses and doing what they can to use their skills and abilities to serve the greater country. Right now it’s “all hands on deck”, and those pilots are doing their part in that spirit.

And it’s that “all hands on deck” attitude that’s a big part of this story. Yes, we’re seeing these actions by Canadian officials in China to help get this medical equipment, but that’s not the only thing we’re seeing. We’re seeing Canadian companies and workers here at home stepping up, changing their businesses and facilities to make some of that equipment too. They are retooling their factories and repurposing their materials to make some of that same gear and machinery that our heroes on the front line of this fight need right now.

It’s not only everyone doing their part to serve their country or help their neighbours, it’s also a realization that there is no one silver bullet or solution to this problem. We cannot depend on one place, one source, one company or one entity to get what we need here. If this moment has forced anything to our minds, it’s having multiples of everything to draw upon and calling on Canadians to get creative on how we get there. This story is a great example of drawing on the experience, knowledge and creativity of Canadians across the board to get to the results that we need. In this time of darkness and sadness, it’s great to see a good news story, one that speaks to perseverance and the best of us. It’s examples like these that are going to get us through these hard times, so if anything this story made me feel good to see such a shining example of that. This is what is going to get us through this and if anything, this story gives us hope, showing what we can do when everyone pulls together.

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