Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ottawa to Review Help For Non-resident Citizens

Following on from my discussion of "Convenient Canadians", I find this article from the Globe and Mail (emphasis mine).

Ottawa to review help for non-resident citizens

Canada will re-examine the practice of paying to rescue its citizens who have made lives in other countries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday as the evacuation in Lebanon winds down.


Numbers suggest that most of the 8,700 people evacuated through the port of Beirut on ships chartered by Canada were tourists. Many Lebanese-Canadians have strong ties to their homeland and holiday there with relatives and friends.


Canadians travelling abroad who are placed in a situation of danger and need to be evacuated are generally expected to cover the costs. But those fees are occasionally waived in the case of large-scale operations that involve extraordinary circumstances, Foreign Affairs officials have explained.

The article does not detail the cost and logistics required to vacate the 8700 or so Canadians who wanted to get out of Lebanon.

I don't know what to say about this. I think Canada has a duty to help her citizens (any citizen, regardless of hyphens) get out of a warzone. However asking them to pay for it may not be so bad. Those who went there on vacation will get a refund from their unused portion of the air ticket but Canadians who live there may be unable to access their bank accounts in a war zone. However, it shouldn't have costed too much to evacuate 8700 people that a G8 country cannot handle. There are many countries where many citizens live elsewhere (such as Ireland, Sri Lanka) but the home country does not question their citizenship. Is there any reason Canada be different? I hope the review is only about the cost of the evacuation and who will bear it.

The article had this interesting excerpt:
But Mr. Harper's suggestion that the government will review the policy of helping to evacuate Canadians who have relocated to their countries of origin is unlikely to sit well with the immigrant communities he has been courting in his bid to win a majority government. His remarks represent another example of his willingness to take a strong and occasionally controversial stand on issues of principal or that appeal to his core constituency.


In either case, no distinction has been made between Canadians who make their home in Canada and those who have homes in other parts of the world. And no distinction is made between Canadians who are citizens of more than one country and those who belong to this country alone.

The Citizenship Act of 1977 permitted people to be citizens of Canada and another country. And, for decades, Canada has taken pride in the fact that it takes in people born in other parts of the world and embraces them as its own. Former prime minister John Diefenbaker pledged to bring in a Canadian citizenship that "knew no hyphenated consideration."

Mr. Harper's remarks drew some harsh criticism from opposition members yesterday.

There was no complaint last year when Canada tried to rescue hundreds of its nationals from Louisiana after hurricane Katrina, said Dan McTeague, the Liberal who was responsible for the protection of Canadians overseas during the previous government.

"Why is it an issue today when it wasn't at this time last year?" he asked. "There is no such thing as degrees of citizenship or classes of citizenship. And what does it say about Canadians who are going around the world imparting their expertise and making Canada a world player? . . . [That] the Prime Minister might review whether or not it's worth the effort of trying to get them out?"

Bill Siksay, the NDP citizenship and immigration critic, said there is no distinction in Canadian citizenship for people who are resident in Canada and those who live elsewhere.


1 comment:

foottothefire said...

Degrees of citizenship are fostered by those who prey for selfish gain upon ignorance and stupidity.
I submit Rick Bell at the Calgary Sun as a prime example. His cowardly editorial on the "matter at hand" found Ricky sitting on a fence trying to start a fight. He (and others) succeeded. Gutless cowards, all.