Thursday, March 16, 2006

Canadian Express: Don't Leave Home Without It

A Canadian passport may have saved this man's life.

But while I'm glad that it did, I'm not entirely happy with the people who endorsed it:

Mark Budzanowski could almost feel his captors' mood sag when they rifled through his pockets and found his passport. The word Canada on the cover was a blow to the dozens of masked men who surrounded him in the nondescript basement somewhere in the Gaza Strip. They thought they had kidnapped an American.

At first, the men in the masks didn't believe their eyes, and questioned the 57-year-old aid worker about Canada and about specific shops near Mr. Budzanowski's residence on Carlton Street in Toronto.

When they were finally convinced that Mr. Budzanowski was not an American in disguise, he said, they started treating him more politely, and handling him less roughly.

"When they were certain I was Canadian, they were very disappointed. Then, they told me, 'We love Canada.' That's wonderful to hear when you have guns pointed at you," an exhausted Mr. Budzanowski said yesterday in a telephone interview shortly after he was released after almost 30 hours as a hostage.

"It's wonderful to have a Canadian passport because it changes people's minds. One of the guards kept asking me to say hello to Canada, so it does stand for something."

His former captors had taken a liking to him toward the end of the hostage-taking and one — the one who kept asking him to say hello to Canada — even gave him a phone number to call if he ever needed the help of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Think about it.

There are Palestinian terrorists who have spent enough time in Toronto to really know the city, back to front. And who presumably still have fresh contacts here.

And their first reaction upon seeing a Canadian passport was boundless praise for our country.

I like praise for Canada as much as the next guy, but what do these terrorists associate Canada with? Moose, Mounties and maply syrup? Hardly.

Most likely, they were thinking about how easy it was for them to get into the country, despite their backgrounds and evil purposes, and how easy it also was for them and their associates to raise funds, plan attacks, and evade justice, all without ever coming to the attention of the authorities.

Islamic terrorists think they have an ally, or a patsy, in Canada.

That's not the sort of respect we want or need.

In a strange way, it would have been more reassuring had the terrorists' response to seeing this man's passport been more hostile.

(Incidentally, hostages from other countries--include America--were also released unharmed. But why let such petty details get in the way of a feel-good story?)

Source: Globe and Mail (with plenty of sickening reader comments)

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