Canada eyes revoking citizenship of dual nationals tied to terror

OTTAWA Thu Feb 7, 2013 1:44am IST

Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canada's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is eyeing legislation that would let it revoke the citizenship of dual nationals involved in acts of terrorism following news that a Canadian-Lebanese man participated in an attack that killed Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year.

The Conservative government said on Tuesday that a Canadian dual national was one of three people who attacked a tourist bus in Bulgaria last summer, killing five Israelis.

Canada is investigating a separate charge by Algeria that a Canadian coordinated last month's attack on a gas plant there.

"Canadian citizenship is predicated on loyalty to this country, and I cannot think of a more obvious act of renouncing one's sense of loyalty than going and committing acts of terror," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told reporters on Wednesday.

Kenney said citizenship can now be revoked only if it was shown to have been gained fraudulently.

That did not appear to be the case with the man implicated in the Bulgarian attack, who apparently came to Canada from Lebanon aged about 8, gained Canadian citizenship three or four years later, and returned to Lebanon when he was 12.

"I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times since then, but (he) has not been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of 12," Kenney said.

Kenney endorsed a bill introduced by Conservative legislator Devinder Shory that would enable the citizenship of dual nationals to be revoked if they engage in war against Canada. He suggested expanding the bill to include acts of terrorism, even if they were not targeted at Canada.

Kenney noted that some had questioned if Canada should continue to allow dual citizenship, following its large-scale evacuation of Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals from Lebanon in 2006.

But he said the government, and most Canadians, feel the idea of dual citizenship should stay.

"The polls I've seen indicate pretty strong public support for it, which is interesting, because generally Canadians are really intolerant of those who would seek to abuse the country's generosity," Kenney said. "So this tells me they believe that the vast majority of dual citizens are bona fide and I agree.

"I think where we might want to make a distinction is amongst those dual citizens who have completely rejected any sense of loyalty to Canada, gone out and committed terrorist crimes, (or) committed acts of war against Canada."

Opposition New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Peter Julian accused the government of taking high-profile examples to build legislation "that goes far beyond the due process and the checks and balances that most Canadians want to see respected".

His party does not have enough votes to block Conservative legislation.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)

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