Editorial — Revoking citizenship

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is on to something when he suggests that the federal government needs to look at whether it should revoke citizenship from convicted terrorists who have dual Canadian citizenship.

He was speaking about the case of a young man from Lebanon who is a suspect in a violent bus bombing in Bulgaria last year that killed five Israeli tourists. The attack was believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah.

The man was travelling on a Canadian passport and is a dual Canadian-Lebanese citizen. He has not lived in Canada since he was 12.

Kenney suggested that terrorists do not deserve to have Canadian citizenship if they are also citizens of another country and, presumably, don’t even live here.

His basic notion is correct. Terrorists do not abide by the rules of law in any country, even those that may shelter them, and are basically at war with anyone or anything they find offensive. The normal rules of law, and even rules of war, cannot be applied to them.

However, as some people said in response to Kenney’s comments, terrorism is also very loosely defined. Calling someone a terrorist or an act terrorism can be done far too easily.

In the case of dual citizens where there is a conviction of terrorism, or treason, or something else that strikes at Canada’s own nature, there is no good reason why they should be allowed to keep a Canadian passport.

There does need to be a proper appeal process so that passports are not removed arbitrarily.

Canadian citizenship is not a right, but is a privilege granted to some of those who have come from elsewhere and agree to abide by our laws and way of life.

Dual citizenship in itself does present some challenges. In 2006, the government flew back at great expense thousands of citizens from Lebanon, when violence between Hezbollah and Israel broke out. Many of these were dual citizens who had not lived in Canada for years. Why do they deserve taxpayers’ help, when they don’t even pay taxes here?

That is a separate problem, and one that is worthy of study. But revoking citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorist acts is something that can and should move ahead more quickly.

With a proper avenue for appeal, there is no reason it shouldn’t go ahead.

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