Minister: The situation in Egypt is “highly unpredictable”Canadians will have to pay for the charter flightsCanada has come under criticism for not calling on Mubarak to step downCannon defends his government’s position on Egypt

Ottawa (CNN) — The Canadian government will begin trying to evacuate as many as 6,000 of its citizens from Egypt as early as Monday using chartered flights bound for Europe.

“The situation in Egypt is highly unpredictable and some demonstrations have turned violent,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters in Ottawa. “The government has evacuation plans in place for Canadian citizens who wish to depart. Our government is making arrangements to provide transportation to locations in Europe,”

The minister said flights to Europe will begin as early as Monday.

Canadians will be expected to pay for these charter flights and will be responsible for their own travel onward from Europe.

In addition, the Canadian government continued to urge the Egyptian president to be responsive to the calls for democratic reforms and freedoms.

“We are calling upon the government of Egypt to speed up democratic reform and economic reform in order to meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” Cannon said. “We deeply regret the continued loss of life during the crisis. We call on all parties to refrain from using violence and the Egyptian authorities to respond to the protests peacefully,”

However, the Canadian government, along with its allies, has come under criticism for not calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Cannon defended his government’s position saying it was an internal Egyptian matter and that his government has long engaged Egypt and other countries in the region to bring about reform.

“This is an internal matter that is incumbent upon the Egyptians’ themselves to make these decisions, much in the same way that we wouldn’t tolerate or accept a foreign government telling us how to conduct our sovereign affairs here in Canada.” he said.


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