• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:34am
NewsHong Kong

Consular services for dual-nationality Canadians 'should be limited', minister is told

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 7:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 2:14pm

Ottawa has been urged to limit consular help for dual citizens who travel on a foreign passport or who live outside Canada for prolonged periods, a plan that could cut services to the estimated 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong.

The proposal was described in briefing books prepared for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Trade Minister Ed Fast.

The proposal specifically suggests reducing the services provided to citizens who do not pay Canadian tax or have declared non-residency, a popular option for breadwinners in Hong Kong who have families in Canada.

Most Canadians in Hong Kong are dual citizens, many returnee immigrants.

"Recent [international] crises have highlighted that many Canadian passport holders have limited connection to Canada [and] are seen by some as maintaining a 'citizenship of convenience'," the document posted online by The Globe and Mail said.

The document also notes that consular officials had been asked to help Canadian citizens in 50 crises in 36 countries in one recent 15-month period alone.

In order to keep a lid on costs, it suggests "differentiating levels of service provided to dual nationals who choose not to use a Canadian passport when travelling or living abroad".

As well, it says the government could impose a "residency requirement or a tax contribution obligation as a condition to be eligible for assistance abroad".

Adria Minsky, spokeswoman for consular affairs minister Lynne Yelich, dismissed the brief, saying: "Our policy is to provide consular services to all Canadian citizens, to the best of our ability."

But the proposal enjoys the support of David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China.

Mulroney, who served as ambassador from 2009 to 2012, said via his Twitter account that "limiting consular services for expat Cdns whose links to Canada are tenuous is fair, smart, inevitable".

It is estimated there are 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, of whom nearly 90 per cent are dual citizens and two-thirds of whom have family members living in Canada.

But neither the Hong Kong government nor Ottawa have any way of knowing the true number since returnees usually use their Hong Kong identity cards when passing through immigration.

Concerns about dual citizenship flared in 2006 when Canada had to evacuate nearly 15,000 citizens from Lebanon after fighting broke out between Hezbollah militants and Israeli soldiers.

It was the largest mass evacuation the country had mounted, at a reported cost of C$85 million (HK$605 million). A further 25,000 to 35,000 dual citizens living in or visiting Lebanon did not seek help.



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This article is now closed to comments

What is missing from the end of this story and what started the Government of Canada looking at this issue, was that after the Government spent millions of dollars evacuating Lebanese Canadians they promptly returned when the clashes stopped. So as a tax paying Canadian I do personally not like someone who does not contribute anything to our country or its tax base but calls for lift when it gets in trouble!
It's spelled Ottawa . . what kind of editors work at this sub-standard paper?
Bo Xilai
For all you "Canadians" who live in Hong Kong and pay no taxes in Canada, but want to have your passport as a "back up plan" or "insurance policy", you will soon be surprised because there is lots of talk about eliminating dual citizenship. If you want to keep your Canadian passport, you'll have to renounce all others. So when the People's Liberation Army comes to "liberate" you from your SAR status, don't come running to Canada.
"We're the government and we're here to help you...."
What services? You go to consulate, wait one hour, talk to someone who's behind a bazooka-proof window, pay an exorbitant fee, and then come back to pick up the documents weeks or even months later (actually, almost one year for a citizenship card). Reminds you why you left in the first place.
In a big crisis, the consulate is the last place I'd ask for help. I think they'd actually offer me clueless and dangerous advice.
Leading countries offer extensive services to their citizens abroad, like making sure the expats' children have access to suitable schooling. It supports international trade and business at the home base. For example: UK, France, US, Japan, Holland, Germany, Switzerland. Canada offers close to nothing and most of its business is with the U.S. What's there to cut?
Actually, one thing they could cut is the Exchange Square location for the consulate. How much does that cost? I'm happy to go to Taikoo or whatever when I need a new passport or something. The consulates and embassies are always in prime, prestigious locations. There's no need for that if it's for offering 3rd class services.
Bo Xilai
If your Canadian Citizenship is that much of a hassle or if "you remember why you left in the first place", then by all means.... PLEASE renounce your citizenship. You won't be a great loss to the country.
Sticks Evans
You have no idea what your talking about. Canadian citizens in HK.
I should of accepted US citizenship and given up my Canadian when had the chance 20 years ago. Never expected these friendly people would throw you under the bus when their treasury is running dry.
At least former Canadians like Allan Zeman had the B_A_L_L_S to renounce his Canadian citizenship and become a full blown Chinese.
Ironic how all the motherland loving ethnic Chinese still want to game the system. They're not "citizens"....just "users" and should be treated as such whenever they run into trouble (like getting busted at a brothel in Dongguan but going into China on a HK ID card - or better yet, their old China shenfenzheng)
In reference to the Central location - they will be opening a new office in Quarry Bay soon as rent is now too high:
A tough situation - I am interested to see the changes that take place in the coming months/years for xpats living and working in Hong Kong.


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