A new report, entitled Canadians Abroad: A Policy and Legislative Agenda, has just been released by the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The report, by former Ambassador and long-time head of the Canadian consular service Gar Pardy, analyses fourteen major issues associated with the provision of consular assistance to Canadians traveling and residing abroad.
It includes a detailed set of recommendations to improve the assistance Canada provides to such travellers and the international legal environment for consular services.
“More than five million Canadians are outside of Canada at any one time. The number is increasing, and as daily news reports show, they encounter various and frequent difficulties and dangers as they visit and reside abroad. Hundreds languish in foreign prisons on specious charges, while others need urgent medical attention or evacuation from the world’s trouble spots.”
The study charts the development over the past decade of an insidious doctrine, limiting the responsibility of the Government of Canada and forcing many affected Canadians to seek redress through the courts. Says Pardy:
“The historical Canadian approach of the universality of consular services for all Canadians was undermined. The result has been inequity, unfairness and inconsistency in the provision of these vital services.”
An issue of particular complexity is the increasing number of Canadians who have a second citizenship. “There are often serious impediments to Canada providing consular assistance for Canadians who are in their country of second citizenship”, says Pardy.
The Report recommends that the government seek international agreement on dual national issues and, in the meantime, develop practical measures to assist such Canadians.
“The new government has an opportunity early in its mandate to address consular services in a comprehensive and forward looking manner. This is the spirit in which this Report is offered.”
Read the full report here.