Thursday, February 3, 2011

Government Impotence Disgusts Me

Tank in front of our hotel in Cairo.

The Canadian government is impotent and spineless.
It was of no help to us in getting out of Cairo.
Today I ready news stories noting that an evacuation flight from Cairo for Canadians was cancelled due to lack of interest.
If so, then it was lack of interest on the part of Canada to help its citizens.
Mike and I were stranded in Cairo on January 29 after our Lufthansa flight was cancelled. The curfew imposed by Hosni Mubarek prevented its scheduled 04:50 takeoff.
We eventually got through to the Canadian embassy and were treated to a recording. We were cut of. Eventually we got through again and after pressing a succession of numbers were transferred to an emergency line and were cut off again.

According to the back page of the Canadian passports we can contact the British consulate for help.
That is how great the response from our federal government was.
Instead that day, January 31, we returned to the airport where we'd been spending the bulk of our time since the 29th.

Other Canadians there had been in touch with the British consulate and were told of a possible evacuation flight Monday afternoon.

We managed to get out on a Lufthansa flight that afternoon. We were lucky. On Saturday a Lufthansa rep showed up at the airline's office four hours late and hand rescheduled flights for us. Mubarek suspended the Internet and all social media. The airline did the best it could for us with its limited resources and put us on a connector to Calgary for February 1.

We went back to the airport each day. On Sunday we tried to get documentation from Lufthansa for our insurance claim. Eventually we gave up and decided to get it later from Frankfurt or from home.
We had an expensive hotel for two nights near the airport as we were advised to not return to the city proper due to the curfew. For the third night we decided to stay at the airport. When we arrived Mike went to the Lufthansa office about 11 a.m.(our flight was the next morning at 04:45) and was told a flight was leaving now and to go to the gate now.
We didn't make that one, but our tickets were honoured for an afternoon flight. We stayed overnight in Frankfurt. We got the documentation we needed. Our ticket for the connecting flight to Canada was honoured and we got home.

Many others waited for the evacuation flight or bought tickets on another airline such as Egypt Air. Those who did made sure their flight left between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Canada did not even have the decency to have a human being answer the phone at the consulate. No information was available on the recordings. My country clearly had no plan for anything and only acted after the US moved to get its citizens out.

As well, Canada is making its people pay for the flight. This galls me no end.
It is doing very little, only acting because everyone else did so first, and is making  its citizens pay for the privilege of this feeble offering.

I love my country. I have never been so happy to be back on Canadian soil.

But I am ashamed of my government and its feeble, impotent spinelessness.


Hilary said...

Leah, I'm so glad you're back safe and sound. When Baggie told me where you were traveling, I was concerned. I'm sorry that our government was not forthcoming with assistance. I can't imagine how stressful this has been for you.I imagine you'll be writing letters..

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you, Hilary. I am preparing several letters of dismay.

Virginia Lee said...

Miss M and I are both very glad you're home, hon. Shout from the rooftops about your experience. It really is appalling.

David Cranmer said...

Good lord, Leah! I was wondering how you were doing after an absence of posting. I'm so glad to hear you and your husband are ok. That sounded like just plain horrible experience.

Dawn said...

Love of your country and respect for whatever political party is currently "running the ship" are two very different things.

Your government has let down you and anyone else stranded in Egypt badly. To have a recorded message at a time like this shows blatant disregard for the people who voted them in.


I'm just relieved to know that you finally got home safely.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thank you VL and Miss M. I will tell anyone who listens, and especially those who don't want to hear.

Thank you, David. The Egypt vacation was fine. The last few days were more exciting that I'd paid for. The only truly horrible experience was trying to get assistance from Canada.

Dawn, thanks. That is so true. It is shameful.

Bossy Betty said...

So glad you are home safe and sound. Very stressful for you....

the Bag Lady said...

It's disgraceful that our government wasn't better prepared to handle this situation. Yours is not the only complaint I have heard of (believe me when I say I was paying very close attention to the situation and wondering whether I would have to do something to ensure your extraction from the situation!)

Reb said...

I am glad you are safely back on Canadian soil too. I know whatever you write it will be done eloquently, but with no doubt left as to your feelings.

Maybe it is time we had a bit of a revolt here too? Sadly, as Canadians we are too polite for one ;)

Chris said...

Glad you made it back, and that the events didn't totally spoil your vacation. Government ineptitude aside, it isn't every trip one finds oneself in the midst of global history being made, eh?

Conny said...

And I will share your story with anyone who will listen! I'm speechless - and am very glad you made it home safely. ~ Conny

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Betty.

Bag Lady, I'm glad it didn't come to extraction. Good to know you were on it, though.

Reb, I wish we had the passion and courage of the Egyptians.

Thank you, Chris. So right. I am so thrilled to have been there for it.

Thank you, Conny.

messymimi said...

Also glad you are home safe, and loving your country and liking your current government can indeed be two different things.

Dawn said...

That's incredible. Incredibly spineless for certain.
Glad you are back safe.
Write (letters) on for sure!!!!

solarity said...

I'm so glad you're safely home. I was beginning to worry at your silence. Sometimes governments need to be held to standards.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Cheryl Kohan said...

Thank goodness all is well. I didn't even know where you were but knew something had to be up because you hadn't posted for so long. So sorry you had to go through all that!

Anonymous said...

I've been worried about you ever since The Bag Lady and Reb mentioned your absence on facebook, and I'm so very relieved you are safely back at home. While watching the news each day, I wondered why I was not hearing of Canadian citizens getting out... and now I know. What a horrifying lack of concern shown by the government of your beloved country!

Leah J. Utas said...

Messymimi, Dawn, Mary Anne, Cheryl, kcinnova, thanks you all so very much for your concern.

Rikk Utas said...

Hey Cuz, give 'em hell. And go public, get it in the papers. Maybe Harper and his ersatz Republicans will get thrown out. Life can be so messy, but you were actually there watching History happen - amazing if scary. Glad you made it home safely. Rikk

Leah J. Utas said...

Rikk, I'm on it. And you're right, it really is amazing to hear the shouts of history with one's own ears.

Laurita said...

Sounds like the embassy there is horribly mismanaged.

Leah J. Utas said...

To put it politely, Laurita.

CountryDreaming said...

I stopped by and read this several days ago but was too stunned to leave a comment. All I can say is I'm glad you're all right.

Leah J. Utas said...

Hello CountryDreaming, thank you so much for being here and reading me and for your concern.

Barbara Martin said...

Leah, unfortunately our government has always been thus, more so since Harper became Prime Minister. It has its own mandate and not necessarily those of its citizens. I'm glad though that you were able to get out safely.

Leah J. Utas said...

Barbara, thanks. Yeah, that's right. All governments are the same, only the degree changes.

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