NEWS

Foreign Affairs reminds Canadians of what NOT to expect from Ottawa when abroad

12/28/2011 11:29 EST | Updated 02/27/2012 05:12 EST
There was the time the parents of a man serving time in a German prison asked Canadian consular officials to rescue him by sending a helicopter into the prison yard.

Or the Canadian who was winging his way to London, England, to see a play, and asked consular officials to line up in the morning for cheap, same-day tickets.

They might read like the script from a sequel to the movie "Dumb and Dumber," but according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, these are just some of the off-the-wall requests their offices in over 150 countries have received from Canadian travellers.

With the holiday travel season in full gear and Canadians heading to foreign destinations, Ottawa is reminding travellers of what consular officials can and cannot do.

They can provide advice and information for medical services, contact relatives or friends when you need serious help, provide sources of information for local laws and customs, and replace lost or stolen passports, Diane Ablonczy, minister of state of foreign affairs, said in a statement Wednesday.

But they cannot "ask your mother-in-law to leave your house; purchase tickets for a musical or entertainment event; settle disputes between you and your partner; (or) pick up your dog at the airport," she said.

Ablonczy is urging travellers to read Foreign Affairs travel reports and warnings before leaving home, and to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. And they should contact the Emergency Operations Centre in Ottawa if they experience problems abroad.

Some other odd requests Canadian consular officials received:

— A U.S. citizen called to inquire about how she could get a Canadian passport. Told she could not get one because she was not a Canadian citizen, the woman replied by saying she thought an American going to Canada needed a Canadian passport.

— A Canadian visiting Chicago wanted to know if consular officers could get tickets for The Oprah Winfrey Show.

— A Canadian living abroad had an argument with his girlfriend, after which she kicked him out. He wanted consular officials to talk to the girlfriend and negotiate his return home.

— A Canadian living in Cairo asked consular officials to escort her mother-in-law out of the Canadian woman’s apartment.

— A Canadian asked the Embassy in Beijing if someone could come and pick up his dog at the Beijing airport after the dog was refused boarding due to lack of proper paperwork. He wanted consular officers to pick up the dog and take care of it until he could get things sorted out—and he did not want to miss his flight and lose the ticket.

MORE:cpNews