No announcement yet.

CANFORCE ONE to the Rescue

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • CANFORCE ONE to the Rescue

    Nice to see this aircraft being put to use unlike that putz Chretien that called it a Taj Mahal for political gain (it replaced a similar 707 ordered under the PET regime).

    At least the PM got rid of the press in Paris!!!

    PARIS (CP) - Stephen Harper's first major international diplomatic foray is ending in dramatic fashion with a humanitarian flight by the prime minister to Cyprus to help evacuate Canadians from the Middle East conflict.

    The surprise, last-minute effort is a fitting exclamation point on a week-long trip through London, St. Petersburg and Paris that has been dominated by events in Lebanon.

    Harper's emphatic defence of Israel's "measured" military response during his flight to Europe last Wednesday; clear divisions over that response among G8 leaders heading into a weekend summit in Russia; loud domestic complaints about Canada's evacuation effort; and the deaths of eight Canadians in Lebanon under an Israeli airstrike all served to keep the controversy at a boil.

    Harper spent well over an hour discussing the situation with French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday in Paris, then emerged to announce he was immediately flying to Cyprus, rather than returning home to Canada as planned.

    "Because of the seriousness of the situation and our relative proximity to Cyprus, we have decided to take the Canadian Forces aircraft we've been travelling on to help airlift evacuees back home," he said.

    His military Airbus A310 - the same modestly refitted plane once dubbed an extravagant "Taj Mahal" by former prime minister Jean Chretien, who never flew in it - will be able to hold upwards of 100 evacuees when it returns to Canada.

    That's in part because all 21 Canadian media travelling with the prime minister were left behind in Paris.

    For some observers, that may lay to rest any notion that the mission is as much a communications exercise for Harper as a humanitarian one.

    "It's more than a symbolic trip," Harper said during his hastily-arranged news conference in Paris.

    "There is a need for air support in Cyprus. Freeing up seats, we will have a significant number of seats to help the situation. I think criticism in this type of situation, given all the complexities, is inevitable one way or the other. We believe there's a real need here."

    But the prime minister did take three communications staff, in addition to his wife Laureen and an official photographer, along with what was described as a "skeleton staff" on the stripped down Airbus.

    PMO staff left behind in Paris said the three communications officials would be helping serve food and drinks to the evacuees on the flight home, since the Defence Department cabin staff were also not aboard.

    The evacuation mission may help buff Harper's image among Canada's expatriot Lebanese community after a punishing period in which he called Israel's bombing of Lebanon a "measured response" to Hezbollah attacks against the state.

    So too, may a call Wednesday in which Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert phoned Harper in France to express "his deep sorrow at the deaths of Canadians in Lebanon," according to Harper.

    "The prime minister of Israel initiated the call and I think his objective was clear. It was obviously to communicate the sorrow of the Israeli government for the deaths of Canadians. Obviously I sought further assurances from him that we would get as much co-operation as possible from Israel on evacuation attempts and obviously that Israel would continue to try and minimize civilian casualties. Obviously those assurances were forthcoming."

    Harper also spoke with Australian Prime Minister John Howard by phone Wednesday to discuss the Lebanon evacuation. Australia has about 25,000 nationals in the country - Canada has upward of 40,000 - and Harper told Howard that Canada "would accommodate as many Australians as possible" in its evacuation efforts, according to an official.

    All this activity on what was supposed to be the final day of Harper's overseas mission provided a counterweight to Harper's pro-Israel mantra over the past week

  • #2
    Interesting reading and good point to PM Harper.
    Thanks for visiting
    *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *


    • #3
      This was just a total photo op by our PM.. nothing more. His gov't has been getting lots of negative media coverage so I think he was trying to get some good publicity. Considering his airbus A310 can only seat somewhere around 120 people and we have 50,000 people carrying Canadian passports in Lebannon he hardly made much impact by going there at all.


      • #4
        It's still much better done that here in the U.S., where U.S. refugees are being made to pay for their ways home from Lebanon. It's good to see that the Canadian gov't is still supporting their citizens.
        Whatever is necessary, is never unwise.