Visiting Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller cut short her first official trip to Canada to get back home to Jamaica to be there for her people as Hurricane Sandy threatened the country.
Sandy was scheduled to make landfall in Jamaica as a Category One storm on Wednesday night.
On Tuesday afternoon, Simpson-Miller opted to leave Canada in the middle of her official visit, but left prominent Jamaicans to fulfil the obligations she made to attend several functions.
“Just about two hours ago the Prime Minister of Jamaica was flown out of Pearson International Airport into Jamaica and I would like to just announce her apologies, her absence and her requests for your understanding of the circumstances that has necessitates her absence,” Consul General Set George Ramocan told the distinguished gathering at The National Club on Tuesday evening at the “doing Business in Jamaica” event, at which the PM was slated to speak.
Ramocan said Jamaicans were praying and hoping that the island will not experience something similar to what happened in 1988 with Hurricane Gilbert.
On Wednesday, Ramocan’s office issued this Press Release: “ In light of the current threat of Hurricane Sandy to Jamaica, Prime Minister The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, had to shorten her four day visit in Toronto to return to the island on Tuesday evening.
“We therefore wish to advise that the Reception and Community Meeting scheduled for Thursday, October 25, at the Faith Sanctuary Pentecostal Church has been cancelled.
“Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
Meanwhile veteran journalist Philip Mascoll posted on Facebook, “If any of you have relatives and friends in the flood prone and highly dangerous areas, call and tell them to move out. There are adequate designated shelters, they should not risk the life of their children and elders.”
As The Camera was going to press on Wednesday Jamaicans hunkered down at home as Hurricane Sandy soaked the Caribbean island with steady rain. Forecasters said it was likely that Sandy would make landfall in the most populous city, Kingston.
Meanwhile, earlier during Simpson-Miller’s visit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled out all the diplomatic stops in Ottawa to welcome his Jamaican counterpart including a 19-gun salute and a walk down Parliament’s Hall of Honour, before they flew together to Toronto for a reception at the Jamaican Canadian Association.
“It has come to my attention that since July, many in this community, Toronto’s Jamaican Canadian community, feel that they live in the shadow of criminality arising out of incidents like the Danzig Street and Eaton Centre shootings,” Prime Minister said.
Harper noted that Canadians understand that the only community placed under a shadow by the perpetrators of these crimes is the community of criminals.
“People who have come from Jamaica to Canada have come in search of a better life, and to contribute positively to our country, not to live in fear of street gangs and criminals,” Harper said.
And since 70 per cent 320,000 Canadians of Jamaican origin live in metro Toronto.
So Harper stressed efforts to assist Jamaica training for the country’s military; for its justice system and the development aid for agriculture.
Simpson Miller thanked Canada for building a strong relationship with her country, opening to the many Jamaicans who have immigrated here over the last 50 years.