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Picking and choosing citizens

Recently, Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Chris Alexander, has been pushing a bill that would amend the current citizenship act. In hopes that he may be able to exercise a certain level of control on who gets to live under the safety of the Canadian government and who gets to be shunned by it, Alexander has depicted a set of rules and regulations that will irk many.

After reading the act, which can be found here, it is clear that the clauses are vague. Among the many reforms that Alexander wishes to bring about the ability to revoke citizenships to Canadians who are deemed “persons who, while they were permanent residents, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring those persons from acquiring citizenship.” He also wants to “increase the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences.” And last but not least, Alexander wishes to “establish a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality.”

Who exactly gets to decide what constitutes a criminal act or violation and who is deemed to have acted contrary to Canadian national interests is anyone’s guess. Alexander hopes to absorb a lot of that power himself, Amendment (H) is as follows: “establishing a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality.”

So what do we do now? As Canadians, if this amendment passes, anything and everything that is done across the border can be considered criminal activity. And what about those who have never been to their country of origin? Where will they go? Or is our overly zealous minister hoping to create a significantly large group of stateless people who will be shipped to oblivion?

When we were given citizenship from this country, whether by birth or by immigration, we were told that we would be protected under its regulations and given a set of rights as Canadians. It is ridiculous to see that, because of a minor infraction, one can suddenly find themselves going back to a place they’ve never been to in their lives while having their lives flipped upside down.

Keeping criminals at bay is important for the safety of the general public, and it would have been a noble cause on the part of our dear minister if he were to put in place clear clauses about what constitute a criminal offence great enough to be stripped of your citizenship. But we are left with loose ends and vague clauses that may one day come to surprise any one of us because of a protest we attended or a friend we met while on vacation.

While the bill has reached its third reading in Senate on the 16th, it may still be a while before it comes to law. But bills like this beg the question, what about the many other issues that Canadians are facing today? Have we finished every major issue on the table to be able to give ourselves permission to dabble in mind numbing amendments that will only wreak more havoc in Canadian lives?

The threat is real, and although Alexander has stated time and time again that this would apply on a case by case basis, this shouldn’t be a topic of discussion in the first place. The case by case situation should take place when there is a major infraction, terrorism or espionage, in which case stripping that person of their citizenship would make sense. However, turning away from what may be a major national threat to average Joes and Janes who only hope to get to work in the morning and have a minor blemish on their record is depressing and not the Canadian way.

The true north strong and free may not be so free anymore.


Prince Arthur Herald
Photo Credit: Twitter, @CBCnews