Protesters in Montreal call on Canada to sever ties with Lebanese government

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In a protest punctuated by grief and anger, dozens of people gathered outside the Lebanese consulate in Outremont on Sunday to call on the Canadian government to stop recognizing the legitimacy of the current Lebanese regime.The protest comes nearly a week after an explosion that devastated Beirut, killing nearly 160 people and injuring nearly 6,000.

Last Tuesday’s explosion was fueled by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored in the city’s port for more than six years. Apparently started by a fire, the explosion was by far the largest in Lebanese history.

Since then, groups in Montreal have organized various events, including vigils to mourn the victims and protests to demand political change.

Protesters said on Sunday decades of government neglect and corruption were to blame and called on Canadian authorities to cut all ties with the regime and to expel the ambassador to Canada and the consul general in Montreal.

Albert Mouawad has attended protests against the Lebanese government every week since October, but he says the recent explosion makes things even more urgent.

Mouawad said all Lebanese Montrealers should take this opportunity to unite for a common cause and remove the government.

“Regardless of our differences and how we view the economy, and how we think social life should be in Lebanon, we have to put these things aside every now and then and try to unite in one. only objective, which is to overthrow this government, ”he declared. .

Sara Ghandour moved to Montreal from Lebanon four years ago. She says her family narrowly missed being hit by the explosion in Beirut last Tuesday. (Simon Nakonechny / CBC)

Ingrid Gedeon moved to Montreal from Lebanon 15 years ago. She always dreamed of returning to the place she once called home, but she said that dream was ripped off last week.

« My first memories, my happiest memories were from there, ”said Gedeon.

“I’m so sad there’s nothing left. There is nothing left to go back to and we are going to have to build everything from scratch. ”

Sara Ghandour, who also moved to Montreal from Lebanon, said her family narrowly missed being hit by the blast, but several of her friends lost their homes.

She hopes the explosion will serve as a warning to Canadians that things must change.

Ingrid Gedeon has spent the past 15 years dreaming of returning to her hometown in Lebanon. Now she says the government robbed her right away, destroying the country as she knows it. (Simon Nakonechny / CBC)

“It’s not just another explosion. It’s not just something that happened in the Middle East that we can post and share our condolences with our friends and then go through it again, ”she said. “It is a crime against humanity. ”

In a statement Sunday, Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said the Canadian government will continue to support the Lebanese people as they attempt to make changes and “will continue to advocate with the Lebanese government for these purposes ”.

Austen said the Canadian government has repeatedly called on Lebanon to implement reforms since October 2019.

“The deterioration in economic, social and political conditions since October 2019, which has been compounded by continued government delays in implementing reforms and by the COVID-19 pandemic, is of great concern to us,” wrote Austen.

On Thursday, International Development Minister Karina Gould said direct aid would go to “trusted” humanitarian groups, not the Lebanese government.

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