Conservatives’ Empty Symbolism on Citizenship Honours No One

Published in the Toronto Star, February 25, 2013

Earlier this month, the House of Commons finished the second reading of a private member’s bill (“An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act, Honouring the Canadian Armed Forces”) that would revoke the Canadian citizenship of dual nationals who commit an “act of war” against the Canadian Armed Forces. According to Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney, the government thinks Bill C-425 should be amended to include acts of terrorism as grounds for citizenship revocation.

As many critics have observed, it’s a bad idea from any policy angle. Treating the citizenship of dual and single-nationality Canadians differently is likely open to Charter challenge. Further, as an opposition MP noted, an “act of war” is not defined under Canadian law; and ‘terrorism’ is notoriously open to disagreement depending on the beholder’s political standpoint. Relying on terrorism convictions handed down by judicially-challenged foreign courts is unlikely to be a smooth legal avenue for Canada to pursue.

As well, the bill is an affront to dual-nationality Canadians. Even though they’re targeted in it only by default (since stripping single-nationality Canadians of citizenship would violate international conventions preventing statelessness), this proposal comes on the heels of other recent acts and comments by the Harper government that can reasonably be seen to foster distrust towards immigrants and dual nationals….

Read the rest of this article on the Toronto Star website.

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