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Friday, July 21, 2006

Paper Canadians

Like just about everyone else, I'm following the news about what's going on in Lebanon. Not on tv, though, since we don't have tv. Just the internet and the odd newspaper article if there happens to be one in the staff room at work. While trying to stay away from the politics of the region, I find myself wondering about all the Canadians our government is supposed to swoop in and rescue instantly.

According to records, in the last while, 14,000 Canadians have gone to Lebanon. These are short term, temporary visitors. Tourists. People going back to visit family. Short term contractors. These are people who were caught in the middle of events that moved too quickly for them to get out. Those Canadians will need help getting out, and I do believe it's our responsibility as a country to help get them out.

Then there are the long term temporary residents. People who are there for business contracts, job postings and the like, most likely with their families. These are people who intented to return to their home, Canada, in the end. These are Canadians that, I assume, knew the risks of moving to the middle east, but still got caught by the speed of events. I would probably be safe in estimating these Canadians number about 5,000 or so. Being generous, let's say there's about 20,000 Canadians in Lebanon that intended to be there temporarily - after all, the US, with its much larger population, has only 25,000 US citizens in Lebanon. Once again, I believe these Canadians should be helped to get out.

Why, then, do we have 50,000 "Canadians" in Lebanon? Who are these approx. 30,000 people (based on my personal guesstimate - I've yet to see any hard numbers on that) that we are suddenly expected to rescue?

They seem to be nothing more than Paper Canadians. They have passports. They have, usually dual, citizenship. Yet they live in Lebanon permanently. Until now, they had no intention of returning to Canada (assuming they lived here long enough to get citizenship). They have no love for Canada. In reality, judging by the comments I'm reading, they hate Canada and everything it stands for. Yet still, they expect Canada to come to their rescue - and are angry because it doesn't come as quickly as they feel it should.

Personally, I feel Canada has no responsibility to these people, and wonder how they even are still considerred citizens. I feel especially angry about the ungratefullness shown by the efforts Canada is making to get them out - and apparently the belief that they don't have to take any responsibility to do anything themselves... like, say, get their own names on the friggin lists of evacuees! Or use common sense - it was almost chance that I found a tiny quote, after reading a long article about the horrors the evacuees were suffering, like sea sickness (what the government is supposed to be able to do about their sea sickness, I have yet to figure out) and lack of air conditioning. The quote was from one of the staff on board the ship they were on. Apparently, the ship did have air conditioning - but the evacuees kept opening the windows!

Of course, the media has been going out of its way to show the governments efforts in the worst possible light. I can't believe the vitriol I've been reading. Everyone was caught unprepared, not just our own government, but when the numbers we have to rescue were suddenly padded by all these Paper Canadians, how can anyone expect anything other than chaos?

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