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That passport in your possession isn't yours, it belongs to the Canadian government and it can take the document away. Under the Canadian Passport Order, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has the power to issue passports and revoke passports.

"Passport Canada recognizes that the denial of passport services is a significant sanction and therefore exercises its authority to refuse issuance of a passport only where there is sufficient reliable information available to justify the action," states the federal government website.

A passport can be refused or revoked if a Canadian provides false information, is charged at home or abroad with a serious offence, is imprisoned in Canada or abroad, or lets someone else use their passport.

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Canadians also shouldn't expect a lot of help from their government while abroad. Canadian officials will not intervene in private legal matters, post bail or ask local authorities to give preferential treatment to Canadians.

Shedding pounds or sporting a new haircut may improve your travel photos, but it could lead to big headaches if the old you is still peeking out of your passport.

In the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, her Toronto lawyer says any change in her appearance can be attributed to the fact that she has lost weight.

Passport Canada suggests on its website that Canadians apply for a new passport, at their expense, if the photo becomes outdated before the passport expires.

"Although it is not mandatory, we do recommend that you obtain a new passport if your appearance has changed substantially, even if your passport is still valid," the government website says. "The intent of the photo is to accurately identify the person presenting his or her passport to border officials and prevent travellers from experiencing difficulties when travelling outside of Canada."

The government also recommends Canadians photocopy the identification page of their passport and carry this copy separately. A second copy should be kept at home to assist in getting a new one should the original be lost or damaged. Bill Curry

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More


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