Canada urged to cut consular services for dual citizens
Ottawa: The government has been urged to limit consular services for dual citizens who travel on a foreign passport or who live outside of Canada for prolonged periods, a report said on Tuesday.
The proposal was described in briefing books prepared for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Trade Minister Ed Fast, and cited by the daily Globe and Mail.
"Recent (international) crises have highlighted that many Canadian passport holders have limited connection to Canada (and) are seen by some as maintaining a `citizenship of convenience,`" the document was quoted as saying.
The document also reportedly notes that consular officials had been asked to help Canadian citizens in 50 international crises in 36 countries in one recent 15-month period alone.
In order to keep a lid on costs, it suggests "differentiating levels of service provided to dual nationals who choose not to use a Canadian passport when travelling or living abroad."
As well, it says the government could impose a "residency requirement or a tax contribution obligation as a condition to be eligible for assistance abroad."
Adria Minsky, spokeswoman for consular affairs Minister Lynne Yelich, dismissed the brief, telling: "Our policy is to provide consular services to all Canadian citizens, to the best of our ability."
Concerns about dual citizenship flared up in 2006 when the government was called to rescue Canadian citizens living abroad and with few ties to this country from Lebanon.
According to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Canada evacuated 14,730 people after fighting broke out between Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon and Israeli soldiers, in the largest mass evacuation the country had ever mounted, at a reported cost of Can$85 million.
Another 25,000 to 35,000 dual citizens living in or visiting Lebanon did not seek Canadian help.
The thinktank Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada estimated in a 2010 report that there are 2.8 million Canadians, or roughly eight percent of the total population, living abroad.
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