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The tab for the large-scale evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon during Hezbollah's conflict with Israel cost taxpayers $85-million, CTV News reports.

The government won't officially divulge what the running total is, nor will it reveal how many people returned to Lebanon after the fighting stopped in mid-August.

Canada hired several ships and chartered aircraft to ferry about 15,000 of the estimated 50,000 Canadians living in Lebanon to safety between July 19 and mid-August.

But sources told CTV that about 7,000 evacuees have returned to Lebanon since hostilities ended last month.

As a rule, Canada asks citizens to reimburse the government for their evacuation from foreign lands, but decided in this case that taxpayers would foot the bill.

Ontario Conservative MP Garth Turner told CTV News that Canadian taxpayers have every right to be "ticked" at what happened.

Turner said citizenship rules need to be revamped.

"Should citizenship expire after a certain period of time if you don't live in Canada anymore? Should it take longer occupancy to get Canadian citizenship?" he asked.

Others suggested dual citizens who are living outside the country should be paying taxes.

"We should do our tax treaties with other countries and see if we can ensure that the tax is collected so that Canadians holding dual citizenship pay tax," Ontario Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi told CTV News.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director John Williamson agreed.

"If you don't want to pay taxes to the government of Canada, you give up your citizenship," he told CTV.

"I think a lot of taxpayers across this country are going to be wondering why so much money was spent on people - (who are) citizens, but who don't reside in Canada."

Lebanese-Canadians told CTV News that they see it differently.

"Once you are Canadian, it's either you are a Canadian or you are not Canadian. There is no second-class citizenship," said Khalid Hashem of the Canadian Lebanese Cultural Association.

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