Canadians have reacted with sadness to the civilian casualties in Israel, Lebanon and Gaza and to the tragic deaths of Montreal’s El-Akhrass family.
The first responsibility of any government is to do everything within its power to protect its citizens. I urge the Government of Canada to expedite its efforts to ensure the safe and timely return of Canadians currently seeking to leave Lebanon.
It is also imperative that Canadians with family members in Lebanon have access to up-to-date information from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. With plans now underway I urge Canadians to learn about the arrangements by contacting the Department of Foreign Affairs International Trade at:
http://www.voyage.gc.ca/consular_home-en.asp (for English)
http://www.voyage.gc.ca/consular_home-fr.asp (for French),
and 613-943-1055 (if calling from overseas) or 1-800-387-3124 (toll free from within Canada).
I also call on our government to aid and support the efforts of the United Nations to bring stability to the region. As a country with a strong history and tradition of multilateralism and international engagement, Canada must work with G-8 countries and other global partners to offer any assistance that will stabilize the region as quickly as possible and to provide humanitarian assistance to the populations that have been affected by this violence. Canada must also be prepared to help rebuild any civilian facilities that have been damaged as soon as it can safely be done.
I support Israel’s right to defend itself and for its people to live in peace. This support is accompanied by the expectation that the defense mounted by Israel will make every effort to spare civilian lives and civilian infrastructure.
This current situation highlights the need for a workable and lasting peace to take root in the Middle East, a peace that can only be achieved when the right of Israel to exist is recognized by all of her neighbours and when Iran and Syria discontinue their support for Hezbollah- and Hamas- initiated violence.
In this time of sadness, fear and apprehension, Canada must reconfirm its role as a good neighbour in the world community by standing with the affected citizens of Israel, Lebanon and Gaza as they work to emerge from this situation of escalating violence.