Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Lebanese abuse of Canadian hospitality demands a review of Canada’s dual citizenship laws

Canadian in passport only

Andrew Cohen, Citizen Special
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A year ago, as the war in Lebanon raged half a world away, Canada launched perhaps the most ambitious rescue operation in its history.

It was extraordinary, really. With no military assets in the region, Canada managed to evacuate some 15,000 of its citizens. Most were taken in repeated voyages by ferry to Cyprus or Turkey, from where they were offered passage to Canada.

Note - Of all the countries with registered foreign nationals in Lebanon, Canada reported the largest number at some 50,000 citizens. This is remarkable considering the fact that Canada has no historic relation with Lebanon. France, a country that does have a history with Lebanon, had even fewer citizens in Lebanon at the time than Canada. Canadians were surprised to learn about this but it should be no surprise to anyone casually familiar with Canada's immigration and refugee system.

For this, no questions were asked and no fees were charged. All that was necessary was a Canadian passport. In some cases, Canada evacuated other nationals, too.


This success story was largely ignored at home. Instead, we heard complaints about Ottawa's tardiness in responding to the crisis, or whining about the voyage -- bad food, filthy toilets, choppy seas.

Their protests were almost as remarkable as the rescue itself, which cost some $96 million. To many, their government had let them down. It should have reacted more quickly and forcefully. After all, wasn't the safety of Canadian citizens its foremost responsibility?

In a sense, yes. But when we learned that some 7,000 of those who had fled Lebanon returned six weeks later, it reinforced questions about dual citizenship that had been raised during the evacuation: What are the obligations of a government in an emergency like this?

After all, if half of these Canadians went back to Lebanon, it was legitimate to ask who they were and what their citizenship meant. The Conservatives promised to review dual citizenship.


The reality is that many of those Lebanese-Canadians rescued from the Middle East have no little or no association with Canada. Some have never lived in Canada, never paid taxes here, never worked here. They got passports as young children or by marriage and threw them into drawers, to be retrieved in a crisis.

The same may well be true of the estimated 250,000 Canadians in Hong Kong, or expatriates in other places. These are Canadians of convenience.

Read all of Andrew Cohen's article here.

Andrew Cohen seems to be one of the few journalists out there who are more prone to criticize Canada's immigration and refugee system and expose the abuses therein as opposed to being one of its cheerleaders which seem to be not in short supply in Canada’s main stream media particularly the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and the CBC.

I agree with Andrew Cohen. Canada needs to review its dual citizenship laws. I do not know to what extent changes need to be made but it is becoming apparent that many immigrants to this country like it because it minimizes their responsibilities to this nation while maximizing the benefits they draw from it.

Canada is not a passport. It is not a harbour in a rough sea. It is not a lifestyle. We Canadians demand commitment to this country from its immigrants. In return they share in the benefits of living in this society. It is called mutual respect. What is becoming apparent is that to many immigrants to this country Canadian citizenship is nothing but a membership card to an exclusive club. They are not Canadians mind you but they are club members and immigrants are okay with that. The only time the tell you that they are Canadian is when they want something out of it and demand that it is their right because they are “Canadian”.

The behaviour of the Lebanese is not exclusive to that community. Similar behaviour is found in many of the foreign national colonies that have sprouted up in Canada over the last 30 years. We cannot blame them for acting that way though. It is our fault for letting them act that way. So long as Canada’s immigration laws are relaxed, our citizenship requirements eased, and commitments to this country are trivialized we can expect this kind of disloyalty to continue.

It’s amazing really; how immigrants today are more prone to take this country for granted than those of us who were born here. It wasn’t always like that though. Earlier waves of immigrants become more Canadian than Canadians because they wanted to be Canadians. Today they are Canadian because, well, it’s convenient. If that’s what it means to be a Canadian to these people then they shouldn’t be here and we shouldn’t let them in let alone stay.

1 comment:

PBechthold said...

Interesting read. While I have witnessed the same behaviors, I can't say that ALL Lebanese behave this way. Do you think that the Government of Canada will take this plea seriously if it appears to be an accusation based on intolerance.

I am not saying that is what is happening, but questioning how the government will see it.