Ottawa is being urged to impose a fee to cover emergency rescue costs for thousands of Canadians who obtain passports and return to live in their native countries.

The issue outraged Canucks after Foreign Affairs in Ottawa admitted 50,000 people with Canadian passports were in Lebanon and many had not been in Canada or paid taxes here for years.

More than 12,000 Lebanese Canadians have now been evacuated from that war-torn country and returned to Canada in boats chartered by the government. Many of them had complained about the slow evacuation process.

Richard Kurland, a Montreal lawyer and immigration policy expert who's spearheading the fee campaign, said the extra cost would apply to those who haven't paid taxes in Canada for five years.

"If people who don't live here and never file tax returns want to use Canadian passports as insurance passports, make them pay an insurance premium," Kurland said last week.

"I am against the principle of setting up an economic barrier to become a citizen," Siksay said. "There shouldn't be a monetary component to become a citizen."

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