Canadians of convenience

Canadians of convenience

The term "Canadians of convenience" became prominent in 2006 in conjunction with the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. It is a pejorative term intended to refer to multiple citizenship Canadians who immigrated to Canada, met the residency requirement to obtain citizenship, moved back to their original home country, but continue to hold onto 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 term

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 CAD$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." The actual cost was about $6,300 for each evacuee ($94 million for 15,000 people).

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. []

upport of the term

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 -- see History of Canadian nationality law), leave the country, and only call upon their Canadian citizenship again when in need of publicly-funded medicare (e.g., for an operation) or emergency evacuation from a war zone. The Economist noted that "Of the 5.5 million Canadians born abroad, 560,000 declared in the most recent census that they hold passports from another country. This feeds the belief that some are using Canada as a safety net."

Government policy

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 he plans to review current practice.

Canada permits multiple citizenship. Some countries do not grant citizenship to new applicants unless they renounce their original citizenship. For example, Canada currently grants Canadian citizenship to Chinese applicants without requiring that they give up Chinese citizenship; however, Canadians applying for Chinese citizenship are required by China to "not retain foreign nationality." [ Articles 13 of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China] , URL accessed 21 October 2006] For citizens of countries that do not allow multiple citizenship, those who become Canadian citizens often lose their original citizenship if the original country learns of the Canadian citizenship.

ee also

*Immigration to Canada
*Free rider problem
*Brain drain
*Multiple citizenship
*Economic impact of immigration to Canada
*Oath of citizenship (Canada)


* [ "Convenient Canadians"] , "The Toronto Sun", 21 July 2006
* [ "Here's your torch"] , "The Turner Report", 29 July 2006, URL accessed 6 September 2006
* [ "Letter from Egypt"] , "The Turner Report", 7 August 2006, URL accessed 6 September 2006
* [ "I'm a lumberjack, and you're not"] , "The Economist", 3 August 2006, URL accessed 6 September 2006
* [ "O Canada, do we stand on guard for thee?"] , "Macleans", 7 August 2006, URL accessed 6 September 2006
* [ Dual Citizenship Faces Review] , "National Post", 21 September 2006, URL accessed 21 September 2006
* [ The Passport Package: Rethinking the Citizenship Benefits of Non-Resident Canadians] , C.D. Howe Institute, Backgrounder, No. 99, December 2006, URL accessed 6 December 2006


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