Confront the closing of Canadian citizenship

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The burgeoning Canadian identity is something to be concerned about.

In comparison to the political fervour generated by Bill C-51 — the Anti-terrorism Act — Bill C-24 slipped quietly under the radar into legislation on June 20, 2014 and came into effect earlier this year. 

Bill C-24 allows dual citizens to be stripped of their Canadian citizenship if convicted of treason, spying or terrorism, either domestically or in a foreign nation, at the discretion of Canada’s citizenship and immigration minister. 

During the Munk debate on Monday night, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau clashed over the bill. 

Trudeau said it devalues Canadian citizenship by making it “conditional for anyone”, but Harper asserted that there’s a “minimum bar” immigrants and people coming to Canada should be expected to live up to. 

Bill C-24 is one in an escalating stampede of legislation that undermines the idea of a tolerant, all-accepting, free Canada.

Since the War Measures Act, to reforms following 9/11, and Bill C-51, Canada has acted increasingly defensively by mitigating certain civil rights in the name of national security.

Regardless of your political preferences, the direction of this country concerns all of us who are starting out, or deciding what to do with our lives. 

The concept of losing Canadian citizenship hits close to home for many of us who have dual citizenship, or whose families immigrated to Canada. 

The membership rights incumbent in citizenship obligates lawmakers to consider citizens’ needs and wishes in creating the laws that govern them. 

Maybe there’s a legitimate discussion to be had around how these rights are distributed. 

But, we should be able to have this discussion without being bombarded by prejudicial images of homegrown insurgents to sway our vote. 

Targeting dual citizens — those who came from or whose parents came from other countries — has a discriminatory on those towards whom Harper hasn’t displayed love in the past.  

It’s a way of filtering Canadian identity to suit a definition we’re comfortable with, but not necessarily one that reflects reality. 

We have a tendency to think of terrorists as foreigners. But committing a terrorist act doesn’t make someone less Canadian. Instead, we’re confronted with a different definition of Canadian.

We can either restrict ourselves to “old-stock” Canada, or embrace the narrative we’ve always been sold about Canadian diversity. 

The Canadian identity currently being formulated is the legacy we will inherit. 

Irrespective of your political allegiances, make sure it’s a national identity that makes you proud to be Canadian.

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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