Many Canadians are feeling duped by the 7,000 Canadian citizens who returned to Lebanon just weeks after having been evacuated from there at great expense to us.
The federal government reportedly spent $85 million to rescue 15,000 Canadian citizens who were caught in the crossfire between Hezbollah and Israel. Almost half have already gone back, with probably more to follow.
How did Canadians end up paying travel costs of about $5,666 per evacuee for “citizens” who don’t even live or pay taxes here?
In short, the major obligation of every nation state is to protect its citizens. Since ours were in trouble, we had to rescue them. We were not alone. This is a principle which I think should remain sacrosanct.
However, we might wish to look at the criteria used to consider applications for Canadian citizenship.
Although we may not care to admit it, Canada is not everyone’s first choice as a place to live. Many people want a Canadian passport simply because they live in a country that is either politically or economically volatile. They like the culture and lifestyle in their own country of birth but simply need a place to escape to if, and when, things get ugly.
Also, Canadian passports make travelling a lot easier. A Canadian can travel to most developed countries without having to apply for a visitor’s visa.
When a person enters Canada to become a permanent resident they must prove that they “have come to Canada in order to establish permanent residence.” This test is forward looking.
When a permanent resident applies to become a Canadian citizen, he does not have to prove a future intention to maintain residency here after becoming a Canadian citizen.
The only requirements are that they have:
• centralized their mode of living in Canada for 3 out of the 4 years prior to the application;
• an adequate knowledge of French or English;
• an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and obligations of being a Canadian citizen.
There is no forward-looking analysis of whether the candidate intends to remain in Canada and/or if he has adequately severed his major ties to his country of birth. Accordingly, some applicants seem to just be doing “time” in Canada until they can return “home.”
This is something worth looking at the next time we tinker with our Citizenship Act.