Along with the widely-publicized sentencing of a Canadian journalist in Egypt, several other Canadians are currently being held abroad under dubious circumstances and critics say the Canadian government has repeatedly let them down. "Over the past decade a growing number of Canadian citizens and permanent residents have experienced serious human rights violations in other countries, while imprisoned by governments or held by armed groups," says Amnesty International on its website.
Should Canada not worry about acts of terrorism by Canadians occurring in different parts of the world, or hostile sentiments against Canadian armed forces? In the recent case of three Canadians found involved, and two dead, in a gas plant attack in Algeria last January, Canadian passports were used by the culprits to facilitate their free mobility across the globe. MP Devinder Shory's Bill C-425 proposes to strip the citizenship of those Canadians of dual citizenship who engage in acts of war against the Canadian Forces. In the wake of Canadians being involved in terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Bulgaria, Algeria, Syria and elsewhere, we should act now.
When I first moved to Canada from Ethiopia via Zambia I was confused and frustrated about my adopted country. I felt lost. Then I discovered Stompin' Tom Connors by accident. Through his music, I learned about Canada and its wonderful and unique Canadian talent. I spent hours listening to the music of Connors and studied the lyrics up close. They touched me and encouraged me to be familiar with the country that I intended to spend my lifetime in. His music became one of many milestones in my life. He made me feel Canadian.
Adel Benhmuda is owed an apology from this country, as are his wife, Aisha, and their four children. After living in Canada for several years their refugee claim failed and Benhmuda's assertions that he would be tortured in Libya were dismissed. In 2008 the family was deported. Upon arrival in Libya, Adel was arrested and tortured. What I would like Minister Kenney to do is stand up in the House of Commons, admit that his beloved asylum system made a grave error and most importantly, apologize to the Benhmudas for what their family was forced to go through.
Our country now mourns the passing of a great Canadian hero, Lincoln Macauley Alexander. He died on Friday October 19th, 2012 at the age of 90. Reading the many tributes to this outstanding Canadian makes it clear that Alexander's exemplary life was lived as an emphatic declaration that blackness and Canadianness can seamlessly exist in synergetic harmony, and that there is a black experience that is inextricably and simultaneously a Canadian experience. Indeed the passing of this legendary black Canadian should encourage us all to live lives that would leave us similarly criticized for our expressed concerns for the lot of the average Canadian, black and otherwise.
Canada has lost one of its fiercest, most uncompromising, contentious and passionate pursuers of justice and equality, Mr. Charles Roach. On October 2, Roach passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Of all his pursuits for a fairer and more just society, however, the most controversial of Roach's advocacy efforts was his push, since 1988, to get a Canadian court to recognize that it is a violation of individuals' constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience to require prospective Canadians to swear an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
There are many misconceptions about black Canadians and where they "belong." For this reason, I am a strong supporter of the Toronto District School Board's (TDSB) decision to open an Africentric high school for this coming September. What better institution than our public schools to dispel the widely held misconceptions that black people are inherently violent, criminal, loud, aggressive, hyper-sexed, unintelligent and lazy?
Just over a decade ago, the UN declared June 20th as World Refugee Day. But in Canada today, we are losing our noble traditions of welcoming refugees and giving them full benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations like the Canada Centre for Victims of Torture that are trying to help out these immigrants in any way they can.
The UN Committee Against Torture and Terrorism is blaming Canada, and seeks compensation for three Muslim Canadians who were held and allegedly tortured in Syria. If you become a Canadian citizen from a country that does the sort of things Syria and Iran do, beware about visiting for weddings or holidays. If you take a chance, knowing full well what can happen, then it's your responsibility, not Canada's.
To many individuals and families around the world, Canada is rightfully regarded as a resettlement destination that offers immigrants and new Canadians a range of freedom. Why then, is there a legal obligation for individuals to take a solemn oath of allegiance to faithfully serve the Queen, her heirs and successors in order to gain full access to the democratic protections of Canadian citizenship?
Lawrence Connelly was issued a DND birth certificate by the Canadian government when born in Germany. He now lives in Orillia, works in daycare, pays his taxes, and is married with two kids. But when he applied for a passport to go to Disney World in the U.S., the Passport Office told him they needed proof of citizenship, and that has birth certificate wasn't enough.