Canadian diplomats in Kabul run up $20,000 bar tab behind embassy walls

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

To deal with the stresses of working in a war zone, it seems Canada's diplomats have turned to the booze.

Hospitality forms, obtained by The Canadian Press, show diplomats in Kabul consumed 3,000 bottles of alcoholic beverages from mid-2007 to last November at a cost to taxpayers of at least $20,000.

Alcoholic 'bevies', according to the report,  were shared at staff functions or to entertain visiting Canadian Forces brass.

In Kabul, diplomats also have the option of drowning their sorrows behind the fortified walls of the embassy 'district' where there is no shortage of watering holes.

Under Afghan law, anyone caught drinking alcohol can be fined, jailed or whipped. But these rules obviously don't extend to embassy compounds.

Journalist Seema Jilani posted an editorial for the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper lambasting what she calls the "condescending attitude of foreigners.

"It doesn't get more colonialist than invading a country, setting up shop, selling a prohibited, culturally and religiously forbidden product like alcohol, and throwing centuries of tradition out the window," she wrote.

"But of course there is a good reason. For who can go without a beer for six weeks anyway?"

In this country, the story of Canadian diplomats drinking in Kabul is being met with a little more understanding.

"We can't think of a much better way to spend $20,000 from government coffers than on booze for embassy workers in one of the, umm, less hospitable places on the planet," wrote the editorial team

"The only issue we have is that their beers of choice appeared to be Heineken, Corona, and Beck's, which are fine, but come on — we couldn't get them any Alexander Keith's?"

(CP Photo)