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Canada may limit services for dual citizens

Taxes and banking curbs could apply to Canadians living abroad for more than 5 years

Gulf News

Dubai: If you’re a Canadian with dual citizenship and outside Canada, Ottawa bureaucrats consider you a citizen ‘of convenience’. And they plan to to curb your rights to government services and benefits, make you pay more in taxes and prevent you from having a Canadian driving licence or having an active bank account there.

But the stricter rules would also apply to Canadians and take effect after five years living away from Canada.

Officials believe there are 2.8 million Canadians living around the world. It’s estimated that there are 40,000 Canadians currently living in the UAE — though many more are likely to have Canadian passports as dual citizenship.

A spokesman from the Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi could not provide comments to Gulf News before press deadline.

Among the ideas floated are:

*Canada would limit consular services only to Canadians who live overseas for less than five years;

*Consular services could only be used based on tax status;

*Driving licences and access to bank accounts would be used to determine tax status and hence access to consular services, and;

*Ottawa would limit service at embassies and consulates based on the passport in use.

While the proposals would be difficult to monitor and are at the proposal stage, one possible outcome is that Canadian passport holders who want to use consular services in Abu Dhabi or Dubai might have to show residence permits before services are rendered — posing a difficulty for dual-nationality Canadians who use their other passport and nationality to live and work in the UAE.

The proposals were put together by senior officials with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and are contained in a briefing document now with Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird. The proposals came to light in a document released to the Canadian media under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The clampdown on dual citizens was spurred by the 2006 invasion of Lebanon by Israel in 2006. Then, some 44,000 Lebanese-Canadians had to be evacuated — a number that caught Ottawa officials off guard.

In 2009, the Harper government changed birth-right access to Canadian citizenship, limiting passport rights to one generation if residing outside Canada. In effect, if you’re Canadian and live outside Canada, your child would qualify to be Canadian. Grandchildren are not granted Canadian citizenship if born outside Canada.

According to the briefing paper, Ottawa has had to intervene 50 times in 36 separate international crises over one 15-month period and the proposals with Baird are considered to be one way of saving money. A copy of the document has been obtained by Gulf News, with heavily redacted sections and details for each country where Canada has had to intervene to help its citizens.

“Recent crises have highlighted that many Canadian passport holders have limited connection to Canada, seen by some as maintaining a ‘citizenship of convenience’,” the document says.

The briefing paper suggests that Canadians who travel overseas or work overseas on the passport of another country should have limited access to consular and government services.

One of the proposals suggests that if you live outside Canada for five years, a new passport will cost you $500 (Dh1,672).

“Consideration could also be given to different levels of service to dual nationalities who choose not to use a Canadian passport when travelling or living abroad,” the paper says.

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