© unknownImmigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canadians won't tolerate cheats on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.
The Harper Conservatives have laid out plans to revoke 26 times more Canadian citizenships than all previous governments - combined.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday his department is looking to pry citizenship away from more than 2,100 people he believes cheated the system. That total has climbed from 1,800 when the initiative was announced last July.

By comparison, Kenney said only around 80 individuals have been stripped of their citizenship between 1947 - when the Citizenship Act came into effect - and this year.

Canadian citizenship did not exist before the Act, meaning citizens of Canada, by both birth and naturalization, were British subjects.

Kenney described the sweep as the biggest citizenship-fraud crackdown in Canadian history.

"This is by far - by many orders of magnitude - the largest enforcement action ever taken in the history of Canadian citizenship," said Kenney, who spoke from a podium adorned with a sign that read: "Citizenship Not For Sale."

The federal government is monitoring 4,400 permanent residents believed to be involved in residence fraud, in case they try to obtain citizenship.

Kenney said nearly 1,400 of these individuals, most of whom are outside the country, have since withdrawn or abandoned their residency application because of the heightened scrutiny.

In total, the government is investigating 6,500 people from more than 100 countries for their allegedly fraudulent attempts to become Canadian citizens or maintain permanent resident status.

To become a citizen, a permanent resident is supposed to have lived in Canada for three years in a four-year period. Permanent residents must be physically present in Canada for two years out of five to retain their status.

Kenney warned of "crooked" immigration consultants who are helping others take advantage of the system while reaping payoffs that can reach $25,000 from a family of five.

These advisers allegedly offer to help foreigners meet residency requirements and acquire Canadian citizenship without ever having to live in Canada.

"If you are a consultant involved in selling Canadian citizenship fraudulently to people and creating fake proof of residency - we are on to you, it's just a matter of time," Kenney said.

He said people pay these consultants to help them assemble false proof of residency, such as renting them an apartment that may, or may not, exist.

In one case, Kenney said investigators opened the door of one phoney address to find a brick wall.

"Our intention is not to make it too difficult for law-abiding people to become citizens," said Kenney, adding that Canada has the highest rate of immigrants in the developed world who go on to become citizens.

"We have a very fair and relatively easy process, but the whole point here is for those people who legally obtain it we must protect its value."

Kenney said his department has been working with the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and foreign Canadian offices. When asked, he could not put a price tag on the project.

The Tory government's blitz is still in its early stages and no citizenships have been revoked yet, a department spokeswoman said. Since April, around 200 warning notices have been issued to the suspected citizenship fraudsters.

An individual who receives a notice, which outlines allegations against them, has 30 days to request the matter be referred to Federal Court.

The department also said a child who receives citizenship based on fraudulent actions of their parents will also lose their status, unless the youth was born in Canada.

When this plan was first announced in July, Kenney said the government intended to cancel the citizenship of at least 1,800 people who allegedly used fraudulent means to become Canadians.

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere didn't have objections Friday to the crackdown, but was surprised Kenney re-announced a strategy he unveiled last summer.

"It's a bit mind-boggling," she said in Ottawa. "Maybe they want to repeat that they are tough on crime."

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae also deemed it a re-announcement, saying the Tories are just "pouring on the rhetoric" for their "Reformist base."