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Canadians of convenience

The term "Canadians of convenience" was popularized by Canadian politician Garth Turner in 2006 in conjunction with the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon during the 2006 Israel–Lebanon conflict. It refers to people with multiple citizenship who immigrated to Canada, met the residency requirement to obtain citizenship, obtained Canadian citizenship, and moved back to their original home country while maintaining their Canadian citizenship, with those who support the term claiming they do so as a safety net.

Statistics and analyses are unavailable on the distinction between evacuees who were long-term residents of Lebanon and those who were not and on how many of the long-term residents had returned to Lebanon immediately after acquiring their Canadian citizenship.

Coining of the termEdit

Although the term was used by others (such as Peter Worthington of the Toronto Sun) earlier during the conflict in Lebanon, it was made most prominent by posts by Garth Turner, a then Conservative MP for Halton, on his blog, and the subsequent reactions. Turner questioned the fairness of paying CA$75,000 for each evacuee, saying, among other things, "that's a hell of a lot of money to donate to people who do not live here, don't pay taxes here, and may never come here again in their lives".[1] The actual cost was about $6,300 for each evacuee ($94 million for 15,000 people).[2]

The National Post has asserted, that of the 15,000 evacuated, about 7,000 may have returned to Lebanon within a month of being evacuated.[3]

Support of the termEdit

Turner was criticized by some for suggesting that there are two classes of Canadian citizens. Other editorials supported the use of the phrase Canadians of convenience and said many immigrants meet their minimum residence requirement to gain Canadian citizenship (which, since 1977, can essentially never be revoked), leave the country, and only call upon their Canadian citizenship again when in need of the publicly funded Medicare[citation needed][clarification needed] or emergency evacuation from a war zone.[citation needed]

The Economist stated, "Of the 5.5 million Canadians born abroad, 560,000 declared in the most recent census that they hold passports from another country."[4]

Government policyEdit

The official policy of the government of Canada is that a dual-citizen is the responsibility of the foreign government when living in the foreign country; however, in practice Canada generally does not distinguish between dual-citizen and single-citizen Canadians, as was the case during the 2006 evacuation from Lebanon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2006 that he planned to review the matter.[5]

Canada permits multiple citizenship. For citizens of countries like India, China, or Singapore, which do not allow multiple citizenship, those who become Canadian citizens often lose their original citizenship if the original country learns of the Canadian citizenship, and the Canadian citizens generally are required to renounce their Canadian citizenship in order to be naturalised in that country.[citation needed]

Amendments to Citizenship ActEdit

Public displeasure over Canadian citizens evacuated from Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict spurred Bill C-37, to amend the Citizenship Act. A new law came into effect on April 17, 2009. One of the changes instituted by the Government of Canada, is the "first generation limitation". Jason Kenney Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism said the following in the House of Commons of Canada on June 10, 2010: "That's why we must protect the values of Canadian citizenship and must take steps against those who would cheapen it ... We will strengthen the new limitation on the ability to acquire citizenship for the second generation born abroad."[6]

The new law would only confer Canadian citizenship to those who were born to a Canadian parent who, him/herself, was either born in Canada or became a Canadian citizen by immigrating to Canada as a permanent resident and subsequently being granted citizenship (also called naturalization). Under the old rules, it was possible for Canadian citizens to pass on their citizenship to endless generations born outside Canada. To restrict the scope of those eligible for Canadian citizenship for the future, the new law limits—with a few exceptions— citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada.[7]

Criticism of new citizenship rulesEdit

New rules have had the consequence of denying citizenship to children of Canadian expats, if the parents were also born outside Canada.[8][9]

2010s revocation of Canadian citizenshipEdit

On July 19, 2011, the Canadian Government announced through Immigration Minister Jason Kenney its intention to revoke the citizenship of 1,800 people it believed obtained their status through fraudulent means. Targets of the move were predicted to hail predominantly from the Middle East, Persian Gulf and China.[10] On September 9, 2012, the government raised this number to 3,100 and began sending letters detailing the revocation and appeal process.[11][12] The following year's Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced that 27 of the investigations had led to revoked citizenships.[13] This represents the largest ever crackdown on Canadian citizenship. In comparison, fewer than 70 citizenships were revoked between the passing of the Citizenship Act in 1947 and 2011.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Garth Turner (2006-08-07). "Letter from Egypt". Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  2. ^ "$94M for Lebanon rescue, but Canadian evacuee grateful". 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  3. ^ "Dual citizenship faces review". National Post. 2006-09-21. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  4. ^ "I'm a lumberjack, and you're not". The Economist. 2006-08-03. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
  5. ^ "O Canada, do we stand on guard for thee?". Macleans. 2006-08-07. Archived from the original on October 10, 2007. Retrieved 2006-09-06.
  6. ^ "Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to announce legislation regarding citizenship". Government of Canada. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 2013-12-22. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  7. ^ "Government of Canada". Archived from the original on November 13, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  8. ^ "New Canadian Citizenship Rules Impact Children of Expats". 27 January 2009. Archived from the original on August 30, 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Restrictive Canadian citizenship rules take effect". Google. AFP. April 17, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
  10. ^ "Ottawa targets 1,800 in citizenship crackdown". CBC News. 2011-07-20.
  11. ^ "3,100 citizenships ordered revoked for immigration fraud". CBC News. 2012-09-10. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
  12. ^ Meurrens, Steven (2012-09-11). "Understanding the citizenship revocation process". Retrieved 2015-02-27.
  13. ^ Proussalidis, Daniel (2013-09-14). "Feds revoke citizenship of 27 fraudsters". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2015-02-27.

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