For all of those hard-working folks slaving away in hellish places like Dubai, the Congo, and Quebec, Skype is a lifeline. Rather than sinking all of your savings into expensive telephone calls to Mama, Baba, Teta, and Jido, the internet has made staying in touch with the motherland affordable. As a result, so the theory goes, more people are likely to send more money home. Now, thanks to the Telecommunications ministry, remittances are likely to take a hit.
In the mid-1970s, during the height of the Lebanese civil war, Canada was one of the very few western countries to adopt special immigration measures to assist those Lebanese fleeing the conflict. It later even set up emergency visa offices in Cyprus to help with family reunification and refugee applications.
That was in 1989 and the result was a spectacular increase in Lebanese immigration in the early 1990s. The 1991 census records only 54,605 Canadians of Lebanese extraction. A decade later there would be 144,000, according to the 2001 census. But in a 2002 report to La Francophonie, the federal government said there were over 250,000 Lebanese in Canada, not all of whom, of course, would be French speaking.
Many of these newcomers, French-speaking Arabs, ended up in Montreal, which boasts Canada's largest Lebanese community.
Sure sounds a whole lot better be Lebanese in Quebec than most places.