Revoke citizenship for dual nationals involved in terrorism: Kenney
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:45PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:51PM EST
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney suggested Wednesday that a private member’s bill could be expanded to strip dual nationals of their Canadian citizenship if they take part in terrorist acts.
In light of confirmation that a dual Canadian-Lebanese citizen was involved in a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last summer, Kenney said it might be time for a legislative change to deal with such cases.
The private member’s bill, tabled by Conservative MP Devinder Shory of Calgary, seeks to renounce the citizenship of those who engage in “acts of war” against Canada.
Kenney said he’s been in discussions with Shory about expanding the scope of his bill to include acts of terror.
Ottawa confirmed this week that a man who held a Canadian passport but lived in Lebanon is accused of participating in the Bulgaria bus bombing, which killed five Israeli tourists and the bus driver.
The Bulgarian government has blamed the attack on Hezbollah, a militant group and political party in Lebanon listed as a terrorist organization in Canada.
“If you are a Canadian-Lebanese dual citizen, but you’re much more devoted to Hezbollah than you are to Canada or law and order or the security of your fellow citizens, maybe we should take a hint,” Kenney told CTV’s Power Play.
“If you go out and start blowing up buses and killing innocent people, maybe we should actually say: ‘That’s deemed renunciation of your citizenship. You lose your Canadian passport.’”
Shory’s bill, C-425, has been debated in the House of Commons on second reading. It would only affect Canadians who hold dual citizenship.
Kenney said it’s an “aberration” that the government has no power to strip those involved in terrorist attacks abroad of Canadian citizenship.
“Every other western liberal democracy that we’ve looked at has the power to effectively revoke citizenship for acts of this nature,” he said, adding that Portugal is an exception.
“We must not let political correctness prevent us from having a serious discussion about immigration security screening, integration and preventing radicalization,” he said.
Opposition parties slammed Kenney’s comments, calling them a “knee-jerk” reaction to recent events.
“Let’s not do policy making on the fly and say because something terrible happened yesterday, I’ve got an instant answer in a scrum today,” interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told reporters in Ottawa.
Others pointed out that legislating citizenship revocation rules would be a tricky and difficult process under the Constitution.
“Once you become a citizen…it’s an inalienable right, so under our Charter, and arguably even under international law, there are serious problems with the proposal,” Chantal Desloges, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer, told Power Play.
The Canadian-Lebanese citizen implicated in the Bulgaria bombing came to Canada at the age of eight before moving to Lebanon at 12, Kenney said earlier Wednesday.
The male, who has not yet been identified, is still at large.
"My understanding is that he came to Canada as a child at about the age of eight, obtained citizenship three or four years after that, left Canada at the age of 12," Kenney said. "I understand he returned to Lebanon. I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times since then, but has not been a habitual resident of Canada since the age of 12."
The man’s alleged accomplice was killed in the bombing.
At the time of the attack, Bulgaria's interior minister said one of the suspects had entered the country with a Canadian passport, while the other had an Australian passport.
Kenney said the lack of information available about the suspect's history in Canada -- including when and how often he has visited the country -- also demonstrates the need for new legislation to better track those who enter and exit Canada.
"In a case like this, we'd be able to immediately look at the computer and see when he was last in Canada, how long he was in Canada and so forth," Kenney said.