Against closing of Czech Consulate in Montreal sign now

Petition against closing the Czech Consulate in Montreal
(A translation of the original petition and letter)

To: The Right Honourable Jean CHAREST, Premier of Quebec

Copy:
Pierre ARCAND Minister of International Relations
Kathleen WEIL Minister of Justice
Michelle Courchesne Minister of Education, Recreation and Sport
Yolande James Minister of Immigration
Christine St-Pierre Minister of Culture and Communications
Tony Tomassi Minister for Families
Marguerite BLAIS Minister for Elderly
Raymond Bachand Minister of Finance
Clйment Gignac Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade
Nicole Mйnard Minister of Tourism
The Media (John H.Dzafarov, etc.)

Re: Closure of the Consulate General in Montreal (http://www.mzv.cz/montreal/en/index.html)

Dear Premier Charest,

We are writing to you on behalf of the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada - Montreal Branch, and the other Czech organizations in Montreal, plus the Quebecers (also of Czech and other origin), the Quebec and Czech companies who do business between Quebec and the Czech Republic, Quebec and Czech tourists, artists and sportsmen, and all who have been appreciating and using the services of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Montreal for already 90 years, ( not forgetting the concerts, art exhibitions, conferences, presentations, etc.).

The Government of the Czech Republic, by its decision No. 1296 of 15 October, 2009, has decided to close down the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Montreal on 31 March 2010. The current scope of our consular activities (i.e. provinces British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quйbec) will be fully covered by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ottawa.

On December 1, 2010 the Head Office of our Czech and Slovak Association of Canada sent a letter to the Prime-Minister of the Czech Republic, Ing. Jan Fischer, CSc., against the closure of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Montreal.

On January 21, our Czech organizations in Montreal opened a petition on-line (in Czech) against the closure, which can be signed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/PeticeGK/petition.html
Up to now we received over 1000 signatures (including from English or French speaking people who do not understand Czech).

On February 8, we also opened our petition in French, which can be signed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/mtlcr/petition.html and today we are opening one in English.

On January 26, we sent by e-mail an Open letter to the Czech government, together with the petitions address.
On January 27, we sent this open letter with the petition to the Czech media.

On February 4, we handed over to the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Montreal the first batch of 1000+ signatures to be sent to the Czech government.

In our letter and in the petition we mentioned all the arguments concerning the closure, affecting also the province of Quebec:

We found this decision of the Czech government to be inconsiderate and irresponsible, which will harm the interests of both, Quebec and the Czech Republic.

The closure of the Czech consulate will be deteriorative to the mutual development and expansion of trade relations between Quebec and the Czech Republic, tourism, cultural and student exchange, etc.

The loss of consular services in Montreal will have a negative effect not only on Quebec and the Czech Republic, but also for us, the Quebecers of Czech origin.

Beside that, the Czech Republic will lose its influent diplomatic, economic and cultural representation.

There are some Quebec companies who do the trade with the Czech Republic:

ABACUS Hydraulics Ltd. BROOKS Canada Inc. CANADAIR CROWN Textiles Inc. CRYSTAL Clear Inc. EUGENE Textile EUREKA Textiles Ltd. EXXAGRO Ltd. FUTURE Electronics Inc. IKEA Wholesale Ltd. MEXX Canada Inc. OLAM Electronics Inc. PEGABO Shoes Velan Inc. WOLVERINE Tube Inc. Bombardier Pratt and Whitney CAE Bell Helicopters Textron, etc.

Therefore we are demanding a cancellation of this decision for the following reasons:

1. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with the population of approximately 3.5 millions, and the metropolis of the biggest Canadian province of Quebec, where the official language is French. The population of approx. 8 millions francophones is the second largest to France. The services of the Czech consulate to francophone public are absolutely irreplaceable, and they have a great political and trade importance.

2. Quebec, the biggest Canadian province (20 times bigger than the Czech Republic, and twice than France), should have the consulate here, and not force people to go to Ontario.

3. This decision will have an unimaginable geopolitical and economic impact. Maybe the Czech Republic will save now some money, but will lose enormously in the long run. Established in 1920, the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Montreal represented Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic already for 90 years. During the Second World War it represented the Czech government in exile in London since the historic and heroic event in 1939, when the late Consul general Dr.Fr.Pavlasek saved the consulate from a seizure by the Hitler's Germany consulate. That made Canada the first country to recognize our government in exile in London.

4. In Canada there is an approximate population of almost 100.000 Czech of direct or partial Czech descent (2006 census), the largest in the world after USA.
Most of Czechs live in Ontario and the province of Quebec, Montreal being second to Toronto. This is in great contrast to the Czech population in other places where the Czech government is planning to close down some consulates (in Australia approx. 27.000, and a few thousands in African and South American countries). There is also a great number of Czech tourists, businessmen, professionals, scientists, artists, who are coming to Quebec. How Ottawa will handle the additional surplus work, and how much extra it will cost?

5. The 200 km distance between Montreal and Ottawa represents a great obstacle, especially for the seniors and even more during the winter months, and will also hinder the trade and economic development between Quebec and the Czech Republic.

6. Montreal has four big universities. For many years there is a reciprocal exchange of students of Quebec and Czech universities. The Consulate General is here to help them all.

7. The Consulate has a commercial attachй who works on mutually profitable trade relations between Quebec, Canada and the Czech Republic. This represents millions of dollars for Quebec. The consulate also promotes natural and historical beauties of the Czech Republic which brings many Quebec visitors to the Country to discover Prague and other tourist places. Furthermore the consulates personnel has been awarded various honors, the most recent granted to the present Consul General, The Honorable Ms. Jaroslava Jeslinkova, declared Woman of the Year 2009 by the Fйdйration des Caisses Desjardins du Quйbec.

8. The consul general also represents the Czech Republic at the International Civil Aviation Organization at their Head Office in Montreal.

9. The building of the consulate is the property of the Czech Republic, and besides the offices and the representative halls, there is a couple of apartments for two families. For this reason, the running expenses of the consulate must be minimal when compared to other consulates who pay the lease for their offices and for the apartments of their employees. These expenses are negligible in comparison with the financial and other benefits provided by the representative, cultural and economic activities of the Czech consulate in Montreal.

10. The Czech consulate in Montreal has been almost a historic "landmark" for 90 years. Its closure will be an irretrievable loss, and will send highly negative message to Quebec.


Dear Premier Charest,

We understand that the planned closure of the Czech consulate is directly related to the deficit of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affaires. However, this saving is small, ill-considered, and at the wrong place.

We hope that the above mentioned arguments will help you and the Quebec government to consider these facts and to back up our endeavor.

We are appealing for your help to convince the Premier of the Czech Republic, Ing. Jan Fischer, CSc. and his government to reverse their decision, and leave the consulate in Montreal open, as it happened in similar situations in Sao Paulo and Sydney.

Thank you in advance for your understanding, and your action. We hope that your intervention will meet with success, for which our generation of Quebecers and the future will be most grateful to you.

Yours sincerely,

Czech and Slovak Association of Canada - Montreal Branch,
and other Czech organizations in Montreal

Note: Please sign it and help us to save the Czech consulate in Montreal. You don't have to be a Czech nor a Canadian, people of many nationalities have added their name to the list and are proud of having done so. All you have to do is click at the bottom of the page, fill in your name and, if you wish, also your city of residence. Your e-mail address will stay invisible. We would greatly appreciate if you would ask your friends and family members, each one individually, to also support this worthy cause.

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Lina WarnerBy:
MusicIn:
Petition target:
Quebec Government

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