Being ‘Canadian’ When Necessary

Evacuation Plan

By Lorne Gunter, National Post

Of the columns I wrote in 2006, none generated more response than the one I published in July castigating the Canadians of convenience who were carping and moaning about our government’s evacuation of their ungrateful backsides from Lebanon during the Israel-Hezbollah war.

The boat rides to safety were too long and too hot. There were too few beds. The departures were delayed three or four hours. The port in Beirut was chaotic.

One enraged evacuee described her treatment as “hell”; not the war she was fleeing, but her rescue(!!)

She and other evacuees (and a horde of Canadian media critics and opposition politicians) ranted and raved for days about the manner in which the Conservative government “fumbled” the evacuation.

Her rescue had made her rethink her loyalty to her adopted Canada — a country she had not lived in for more than a decade. Yet she was more than willing to accept our free boat ride out of the country she truly saw as home and our free plane ride to Montreal to visit relatives for a few weeks until things back home settled down and she could use the free return ticket we had given her to go back.

I think that was the last straw for me; finding out that within two months, at least half (and very likely more) of the 15,000 evacuees we had paid nearly $100-million to extract had returned to Lebanon, at Canadian taxpayers’ expense.

And you can bet it was the more ungrateful half who flew home to Lebanon and that they were fully convinced they were entitled to a free ticket to do so.

Canadian citizenship was nothing more to them than a dirt cheap insurance policy — $87 every five years for a new Canadian passport. Most came here in the 1980s, when their country was racked with civil war, went back the moment it was safe to do so and thought no more about their Canadian citizenship (or about what they could do for Canada) until fighting broke out again and they needed a lift to safety.

Then it was, “Where’s my boat? Are we there yet? What’s taking so long? What do you mean you don’t have a cabin for me?”

Indeed, in 15 years as a journalist, I have never written anything that has generated more response — over 700 e-mails in all, of which only eight disagreed with my position.

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