Last week, after Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre called up Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to offer equipment and manpower. But Pablos reportedly rejected all of that.
The CBC said he instead asked for “prayers from the people of Quebec.”
There was an outcry online after that, in part fueled by the post I wrote for this site, because it seemed ridiculous that a Texas official would reject tangible help in favor of imaginary help. (I stand by my post, which was based off of a CBC article.)
Pablos must have realized how bad all this looked, too, because his office began doing damage control not long afterwards.
As those stories made the rounds of the internet, Pablos’ office began receiving calls from across the U.S. and Canada.
“[They were] telling us they were ashamed that we were declining aid from Canada,” said Sam Taylor, Pablos’ press secretary. “That wasn’t the case at all.”
Pablos doesn’t deny that he asked for prayers, but the reason he rejected the actual help, he says, is because his office wasn’t in a position to manage or receive it. That was the work of the Department of Public Safety. He insists he passed along their contact information to St-Pierre.
On Wednesday, the two governments had a follow-up conversation to further coordinate relief efforts. On Friday morning, after the controversy emerged, Pablos and St-Pierre spoke again.
The purpose of the second follow-up conversation, Taylor said, was to see if St-Pierre’s office was aware of the reaction to her comments.
“They confirmed to us that they had received the contact information that they needed in order to send that aid package,” Taylor said.
A spokesperson for St-Pierre issued a statement on Saturday that echoed the version of events provided by Pablos’ office.
It’s unclear if St-Pierre knew where to send the products when she made the comments about Texas “declining” the aid, but she certainly knows now. And her office will be shipping 5,000 emergency hygiene kits to the Texas Department of Public Safety. So can any other groups that wish to help.
— Secretary of State (@TXsecofstate) September 1, 2017
I’m tempted to call that a happy ending, but everything in Texas is still pretty devastating right now, so let’s just call this a sensible ending. It’s far more useful, anyway, than Gov. Greg Abbott‘s call for a Day of Prayer.