Richard J. Brennan, The Star, July 20, 2011
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney confirmed Wednesday that as many as 1,800 new Canadians could be stripped of their citizenship because they were obtained fraudulently.
“We are in the process of notifying them that we will be revoking their citizenship because Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” Kenney told the Economic Club of Canada.
Kenney said some of the individuals are believed to have used “unscrupulous” immigration consultants who submitted fraudulent applications on behalf of people who did not meet the qualifications for citizenship.
The 1,800 were identified following a three-year investigation by the RCMP, other police forces and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
“By the way, we are not done with our investigation” Kenney said, noting that many of the accused live outside the country.
They can challenge the decision in Federal Court. If not, Cabinet will move to revoke their citizenship.
Citizenship revocation is relatively uncommon in Canada with only 63 people being stripped of their citizenship since 1977, Kenney said.
Most were for reasons related to residence fraud, criminality and false identity, or concealing their involvement in war crimes.
Speaking in Vancouver on Tuesday, Kenney said Ottawa is trying to discourage immigration fraud.
“For those who simply touch down and try to get a Canadian passport as a … passport of convenience, who don’t pay our taxes but who do consume our social benefits, I think that’s dishonourable,” he told reporters after delivering a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade.
“There are many ways that we are combating immigration fraud and abuse of our generosity, whether it is from [bogus] asylum claimants, crooked immigration consultants, people smugglers [or] people who are abusing our citizenship program,” he said.
Kenney also announced that Canada will soon be introducing multi-year visas for low-risk visitors from around the world that will last 10 years.