Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stevie can't save anyone.

I'll grant PM Stevie this: it's extremely difficult to get 40-50,000 people out of a wartorn country, by sea, particularly when you have no military vessels in the region and you're half a world away. Totally fair cop -- he's got a tough row to how. But, then again, he's the Prime Minister (and he wants a majority government). It's his problem to deal with; it comes with the job. So, the hopeless screw-ups detailed in this article are simply pathetic.
  1. "But federal sources say there was an edict handed down by Sandra Buckler, the Prime Minister's communications director, dictating that the situation was to be kept under wraps."
  2. "... private ships would have to be leased from places such as Cyprus at a time when many other countries were trying to do the same thing."
  3. "Canada no longer operates an embassy or even a full consulate in Cyprus, only a small office staffed by a part-time honorary consul, so officials had to be brought in from Ottawa and from Canada's other embassies."
  4. "... the Canadians involved in the operation say they were hampered by another difficulty: the Prime Minister's centralized command and communications policies — frustrations that were expressed both in the Middle East and in Ottawa."
  5. "There wouldn't be seven boats, and it appeared unlikely that even one of them would be able to make it across the Mediterranean by the end of last night. ... the boat owners were extremely nervous about whether Israel, which is blockading the Beirut harbour, would honour any commitment to give them safe passage. ... as late as Wednesday morning, Canadian officials in Beirut were confidently telling reporters that all seven ships were on their way, and that they expected to get 2,000 people out of the country by sundown. Thursday, they had hoped to be moving something close to double that number."
  6. "As many as 40,000 Canadians may need to be removed, and the initial plan of moving them into Cyprus ran into a serious obstacle: It is vacation season on this popular Mediterranean resort island and most hotels and airplane seats have long been booked. Short of dumping them into refugee camps, nothing could be done with the Canadians."
  7. "One government official in Ottawa, who asked to remain unidentified, expressed concern that Mr. Harper's decision to fly to Cyprus to offer up the services of the government jet might be perceived by Canadians as a publicity stunt. The government could have sent one of its Challenger jets to Paris to pick up the Prime Minister and his staff, the source said, freeing up more room on the Airbus."
  8. "Last night, three very big U.S. ships and a Swedish/Norwegian ship containing 1,500 people arrived, which proved too much for the harbour. One of the U.S. ships was diverted to Limassol, 85 kilometres away. So it may prove impossible, in the wee hours of this morning, for the Canadian ship even to find a slot."
Canadian citizens are in danger of their lives and the Conservative government doesn't have the sense to figure out how to get them out. (Do I know how? No; but, then again, I'm not the one who's supposed to.)

Here's another article, with some anecdotal accounts of what the "rescue" is like. And this one contrasts the Canadian response with the Swedish one.

I have to ask: would there have been such incompetence if everyone to be saved was blonde, blue-eyed, and named "Fred" and "Sue", instead of brunette, brown-eyed, and named "Tariq" and "Fatima"?

Proof that commentators on the right don't get it:
It is obvious to anyone who cares to look that the Canadian government cares deeply about the fate of Canadian and dual citizens in Lebanon. Is it too much to expect a simple "thanks"?
Thanks for caring? No, chuckles, no thanks at all: it's their job to care what happens to Canadian citizens. It's also their job to provide necessary services in a timely, efficient and humane manner. (I vaguely recall this same newspaper claiming that the provision of healthcare in a timely manner was of such importance that private insurance should be allowed in order to guarantee it.) And, they work for us: we don't remain citizens at their pleasure. So, critizing their inept response is entirely appropriate and reasonable. The notion of "gratitude" has nothing to do with it; and it's a gross insult to human suffering to pretend that it does.

On a related note, in addition to the point I made here, in discussion with my darling wife this morning, I've come to the conclusion that permanent residents of Canada deserve the same consideration as citizens. After all, the only differences between the former and the latter are that permanent residents can't run for office, serve in the military, or vote. But, they are subject to significant restrictions on their freedom of movement, even in the countries in which they are full-fledged citizens, in order to retain their permanent resident status. So, really, what is it that makes Canadian permanent residents worthy of less consideration than Canadian citizens? There doesn't really seem to be anything.

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