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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

# Posted 5:44 PM by Taylor Owen  

IN THE WHEN IS A "PHOTO-OP" ACTUALLY A "SYMBOLIC GESTURE" DEPARTMENT: Harper, the new Canadian PM, will be diverting his plane to pick up 130 evacuees (of the estimated 50,000 Canadian citizens currently in Lebanon) on his return from the G-8.

In response to questions, Harper denied the trip was a photo opportunity.

"It's more than a symbolic trip," he said. "There's a need for air support in Cyprus. Freeing up seats, we will have a significant number of seats to help the situation."

Journalists and most of the plane's crew will have to find their own way home, however, as the aircraft will be "stripped down to a skeleton staff." Luckily though, for posterity's sake, his personal photographer made the cut...
(12) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Well, there are more than 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon, but Harper isn't going to Lebanon. He's going to Cyprus. The question is: how many of those 50,000 Canadians have applied for evacuation, and how many of them are in Cyprus?

I'd bet every seat on a jet leaving Cyprus for Canada is greatly appreciated by those who are stuck. Even if it is a publicity stunt.
 
I have two questions.

1. Are the Canadians doing a better job than the Americans at evacuating their own citizens?

2. Are the Canadians being evacuated complaining as much as the Americans?
 
John,

The answers to your questions:

1. No.

2. Yes.
 
Anonymous - Of course I aggee to a certain extent. But why, then, are Harper, his wife, a staff including a
photographer, as well as his public relations team and RCMP bodyguards,
taking up needed seats?
 
Hi Taylor,

I agree. It definitely seems like a PR stunt. Harper's government has been receiving quite a bit of flak. First, he has an image incentive. (a) for his "measured" remarks about Israel's response. And (b) for the apparent bumbling of the evacuation. Second, why mention the flight to the press before it takes place if you don't want the PR?

By the same token, does it really matter if it's a PR stunt?
 
cdntarheel, I completely agree that the two are not mutually exclusive. If they were, politics would be either a very secretive or very unproductive endeavour!
 
Surveying the world press, it seems that almost every country's citizens in Lebanon are convinced, through anecdote and rumor, that other countries are handling the evacuation much better than their own.

A decent number of the Canadian (and other) citizens in Lebanon are of the dual-citizen variety that maintain a second citizenship for evacuation in case of an emergency. It would be interesting to know how many of those have applied to leave.
 
John. I agree. While there are approx. 50,000 Canadian citizens in Lebanon, I'm certain that you are right that not all will want to be evacuated - particularly those who live more or less permanently in Lebanon. The evacuation will still be substantial though, as so far, 30,000 have registered with the Can. embassy in Beirut.
 
Hi Thacker and Taylor,

Unfortunately, some Canadian Conservative MPs have been squabbling over dual citizens. There's been a stir in the Canadian blogosphere about "Canadians of convenience" and over Who's Canadian enough.
 
Thanks cndtarheel. I agree completely with the Idealistic Pragmatist.
 
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Why not? It's called politics.
 
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