If you're traveling abroad and you lose your passport, a Canadian consular official can help. You'll not be stuck indefinitely in an airport terminal. This official can also get in touch with family and arrange for a wire transfer if your wallet gets stolen, or point you in the right direction if you need legal advice.
But a consular official will not bust your convicted son out of a German prison in a helicopter, Mission Impossible-style, no matter how insistently you ask. You can also forget about calling one in to eject your mother-in-law from the house. And those Oprah Winfrey show tickets? Sorry, but you'll have to get them yourself.
Surprisingly (or not), these are but a few of the bizarre requests recorded by Canadian consular officials. The Foreign Affairs department took time during the busy holiday travel season to remind citizens what services the consulate's 150 outposts around the world do, in fact, provide.
Here's the information. Consular officials can provide advice and information for medical services, contact relatives or friends when you need serious help, provide sources of information for local laws and customs, and replace lost or stolen passports.
Where consular officials draw the line, however, is in purchasing tickets for a musical or entertainment event, settling disputes between you and your partner, or picking up your dog at the airport.
That didn't stop one culturally inclined traveller from calling the consulate the night before his flight to London to request someone stand in line the next morning to grab last-minute tickets to a play he wanted to see. Other gems include a Canadian man, whose angry girlfriend had recently kicked him out of the house, pleading to consular officials to intervene and "negotiate" his way back home. A man who didn't have the proper paperwork for his pooch asked the embassy in Beijing to come to the airport, collect the animal and dog-sit until he could arrange to bring his pet back to Canada. He had a flight to catch, after all.
But, as the Toronto Star notes, it's not just Canadians who make strange requests. A U.S. citizen reportedly called the embassy to ask for a Canadian passport. When an official explained that she would have to become a Canadian citizen first, the woman expressed her confusion, saying she thought Americans needed a Canadian passport to travel to Canada.