National Post · Jul. 4, 2012
Conrad Black's unfortunate statements (Don't blame Canada for Europe's problems, Conrad Black, June 23) in regard to Greece seem to be in contradiction to reality. We respectfully disagree with his political critique and unconstructive denigration of Greeks as a whole.
We, and indeed all Canadians, would rightly dismiss his generalizations about a particular race or people based on perceived cultural proclivities or stereotypes. To believe that a whole people is seemingly fiscally irresponsible and "the laziest of all nationalities" in an age of global fiscal irresponsibility is an oversimplification of politically charged and sensitive issues that can often foster unfair or even inappropriate critiques. We accept that as a fact of life and as a product of free speech. However, we submit the following points to consider when judging the present state of Greece, economically and politically, and within the context of a European Monetary Union that, when carefully examined, has been shown to reflect certain economic flaws that have not only affected Greece, but countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.
One only has to look closely at the European Commission's "Eurostat" labour statistics between 2008-2010 (the epiphany of the economic crisis in Europe) to see that Greece falls just about in the EU average in terms of Gross Domestic Product standards, consumer purchasing power and real labour productivity per hour worked as well as above average in collectively agreed working hours, and statutory maximum working hours per day/week which trump German labour hours. Finally, the paid annual leave that Greeks are entitled to is less than the EU average.
Moreover, Lord Black has not compared the ideologies and political attitudes of Canada with those of Greece when he states that Greece is "leftleaning." How does he substantiate that when a European Social Democrat is the same as a Canadian Liberal? How about the Scandinavian countries or the current U.S. president? It is not an insult to be "left-leaning," but for his information, the current Greek government is mostly "right-leaning."Disregarding the contribution that the Greeks have had to world history, democracy, science and the arts, it seems Lord Black is ready to insult a worldwide Greek community that numbers well over 20 million hard-working and productive members of the global family. It is very evident that many of the Canadians of Greek descent (over 250,000) came to Canada during European immigration in the past century and that the community as a whole has become an important contributor to the Canadian economy (both in business and science), and upstandingly proud members of the Canadian family.
Costas Pappas is president of the Canadian Hellenic Congress (representing over 250,000 Canadians of Hellenic descent).