Critics say Canadian consuls could do more to protect travellers

Getting ready to travel can be hectic, chaotic even, but Canadians are urged to research their destination and become aware of what the government can, and cannot do should they find themselves in trouble abroad.

Ambra Dickie, a spokesperson for The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs encourages Canadians to not only register on their site before jetting off, but to also check a recently published report on their website , that outlines how the government can help.

The report, Bon Voyage But…, includes a list of consular official duties for Canadians.

If a Canadian should find themselves in a traumatic situation, some those duties include comfort and assistance to a victim’s family, and a list of local phone numbers in case of emergencies.

In case of an “alleged crime or death” while on vacation, officials can only request the country to investigate.

In the recent case of the DePrisco family, who lost their 19-year-old son Adam while on a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico, recently, they had received a phone call, and an assurance that everything is being done to correct the problem according to Stephanie Panozzi, DePrisco’s aunt.

She believes that’s not enough. Panozzi says there’s more government officials, in particular Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay, can do to solve the case of her nephew’s death.

“(Mackay) should do the same thing Bush would do. He’d make his way down there and investigate without the family having to be troubled at all … that’s how it happens in the States.

They take action right away, they don’t speak on it like we do here in Canada,” Panozzi says.

Chris MacLeod, a lawyer for Celil Hussein, a Canadian citizen who is being detained in China for religious beliefs, agrees.

With respects to his client’s case, MacLeod said he was encouraged by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who named Hussein’s case a “high priority,” but admitted that if a citizen’s crime or death occurs in another country, Canada should be part of the investigations.

“If a crime’s committed in another country, the authorities there have the right and they can do their own investigation,” MacLeod says.

“I think though, when a Canadian is killed abroad or detained abroad, Canada has an obligation, and there’s an expectation among Canadians that the government will intervene in a manner that ensures an adequate investigation is done.”

MacLeod also added that investigations elsewhere should be conducted the same way they’re done at home. If this is how they were done, Panozzi says her nephew would still be alive.

“When you’re in trouble (your vacation) is not so beautiful, and there’s no one to help you,” Panozzi says.

“People have to look at the dangers of when you are in trouble. If my nephew were here he would’ve lived, he would’ve survived.”

A travel advisory suggestion was given by both Panozzi and MacLeod, but neither China nor Mexico have one.

Panozzi says that a travel advisory is very important, and agreehopes that the government will push for one, especially for countries that might pose a threat to the safety of Canadians.
For more on travel destinations, and government responsibilities in case of a travel emergency, visit