Harper wants more democracy in Egypt

OTTAWA — Canada wants to see a transition toward greater democracy and freedom in Egypt, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday.

OTTAWA — Canada wants to see a transition toward greater democracy and freedom in Egypt, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday.

But Harper stopped short of calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the face of continuing protests over his three decades of rule.

“We want to see a transition towards basic values of freedom, democracy, human rights and justice,” Harper told the House of Commons on Monday. “We want to make sure the transition does not tend towards violence, instability and extremism.”

For the second straight day, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon refused to be drawn into discussion on the future of Mubarak’s government, which has now faced a week of mass protests.

“I think that it’s quite clear. Canadians would not like to see foreign governments involve themselves in Canadian internal affairs,” Cannon told reporters.

“In the same manner, we are respecting the sovereignty of this country. It’s up to the people of Egypt to make and to take the correct decisions that they feel need to be taken.

“It’s not up to the government of Canada to go and get involved in internal politics in a country. We’ve called upon this government, the Mubarak government, to put in place both economic as well as democratic reforms.”

Cannon’s remarks contrasted with what the former British prime minister said in an interview Monday. Tony Blair, the international Mideast envoy, suggested that a change in Egypt’s leadership appears inevitable.

“Change will happen. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle now,” he said.

About 600 Canadians were to be evacuated from Egypt amid ongoing political turmoil.

Cannon said two planes chartered by the government were to pick up Canadians eager to escape the unrest. The planes were to take the evacuees to Frankfurt.

Cannon dismissed reports that many Canadians in Egypt were not getting information about the flights, although he acknowledged there were some “technical difficulties” due to the volatile situation.

He said embassy officials and an operations centre in Ottawa were contacting people to give them information.

“How do you think that we have now roughly 200-and-some-odd people who are waiting to embark on the plane? It’s because our embassy officials as well as our operations centre are in a position to be able to contact these people and invite them to go to the airport to be able to board the planes,” Cannon said.

Cannon also said Canada is working with the U.S., Britain, Australia and other “like-minded countries” to share space on flights.

Egypt has been rocked by days of mass protests against Mubarak’s rule.

Cairo’s international airport has been chaotic, with shouting matches and even fist fights as thousands of travellers crowded in, hoping to board flights.

A spokeswoman for Cannon said an Air Canada flight was scheduled to depart Cairo International Airport at around 4 p.m. local time. The plane, which can hold 335 people, was expected to arrive in Frankfurt at 10 p.m. local time. (4 p.m. ET).

Another flight, chartered through Skylink Travel and capable of carrying 234 people, was to depart Cairo at 7 p.m., flying via Amman to Frankfurt. Arrival in Frankfurt was set for 3 a.m. Tuesday local time (9 p.m. ET).

Cannon said Canada is also exploring ways to evacuate Canadians based outside Cairo.

“The government is looking for options for flights to evacuate Canadians from cities other than Cairo. Individuals located outside of Cairo are advised not to try to make their way to Cairo, for safety reasons,” he said in a statement.

“The Government of Canada’s priority is the safety of Canadian citizens in Egypt.”

Cannon said passengers must sign a form “agreeing to repay the costs related to evacuation.”

There have not been any reports of Canadians injured or killed in the Egyptian protests. There are some 6,500 Canadians in Egypt, 1,200 of whom are registered with the Canadian Embassy.


Canadians in Egypt who want to leave are asked to phone Canada’s embassy in Cairo at 20 2 2791 8700 or call collect to the Foreign Affairs emergency operations centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.

Relatives in Canada can contact the centre toll-free by dialling 1-800-606-5499, or by sending an email to sos(at)international.gc.ca.

— With files from The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says she has not received an official request from any other school board for a similar move to online learning. (Advocate file photo)
’Operational pressures:’ Calgary schools shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12

School boards can ask to move online for a number of reasons

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Coordination Center of the Russian Government in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The centre was set up as a line of communication with the whole of Russia for analysing and collecting information, promptly using big data and solving arising problems. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Months after hack, US poised to announce sanctions on Russia

First retaliatory action against the Kremlin for last year’s hack

FILE - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during the “Topping Off” ceremony of the New York Islanders new home, the UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mary Altaffer
Islanders close to selling out inaugural season at UBS Arena

Arena capacity of about 17,000 for hockey

An Uber Eats delivery person carries items near the Japan National Stadium, where opening ceremony and other events are planned for postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with engravings in honor of 1964 Tokyo Olympics seen on the side of the stadium wall behind the fence Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Tokyo. Two top officials of Japan’s ruling LDP party on Thursday, April 15, 2021, said radical changes could be coming to the Tokyo Olympics. One went as far to suggest they still could be canceled, and the other that even if they proceed, it might be without any fans.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials say Olympic cancellation, no fans still an option

COVID-19 cases have been rising across Japan

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2020 file photo, co-directors Jim LeBrecht, left, and Nicole Newnham, center, from the documentary “Crip Camp” pose with film subject Judith Heumann during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The disabled have a moment in the Oscar spotlight that they hope becomes a movement. LeBrecht, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, says a golden age for disabled films could come if Hollywood lets them tell their own stories. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
The disabled hope their Oscar moment can become a movement

Traditionally the disabled appear only when an actor seeking an Oscar-worthy role plays one on screen

FILE - Diane Warren poses for a portrait at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on Feb. 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Warren is nominated for an Oscar for best original song for her work in “The Life Ahead” starring Sophia Loren. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
12-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren hopes for ‘awesome’ win

Third movie adaptation of the 1975 Romain Gary novel ‘The Life Before Us’

Opinion: Waiting 4 months between vaccine doses too long

“It’s not just a matter of potency, it’s a matter of the… Continue reading

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Most Read