(MONTREAL, QUEBEC) — Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Sunday inaugurated the revamped Lebanese General Consulate in Montréal, Québec during a visit to Canada’s second largest city.
Bassil celebrated the Lebanese-Canadian community and called it a “model” for other countries with large Lebanese populations to follow.
The inauguration was attended by Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam, Lebanon’s Ambassador to the United States Antoine Chedid, and other Lebanese consuls in North America.
Bassil said the five consulates in North America were “not enough,” explaining the Lebanese government was facing a “shortage” in serving Lebanese diaspora communities. He also called on the restoration of the Lebanese nationality law.
“This indicates our shortcomings towards our citizens,” he said. “Despite this, (the Lebanese) still love their homeland and have an attachment to Lebanon.”
The 2011 Census of Canada identified 190,000 Canadians who claimed Lebanese ancestry, but independent population studies say the number hovers over 250,000.
Bassil said Consul General of Lebanon in Montréal Fadi Ziadeh has 75,000 files of registered Lebanese citizens.
For his part, Ziadeh thanked Bassil and the inauguration committees on the occasion, and congratulated the Lebanese-Canadian community on their new facility.
“This building will be a meeting place for Lebanese youth, expatriates, and businessmen — and a cultural oasis and reality that reflects Lebanon,” he said.
About half the Lebanese-Canadian community is located in Montréal, and most Lebanese-Canadian organizations, especially religious ones, are based in the city. Immigrant groups historically preferred to settle in French-speaking cities, according to the Census.