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Omar Alghabra

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Are You a Dual Citizen? Kenney's Got Plans for You

Posted: 02/19/2013 12:41 pm

If you are a Canadian citizen who holds any other citizenship, you should know that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is pushing to pass a law that would render you a second class citizen.

Next week, the House of Commons will be voting on a private member bill, C-245, that aims to strip Canadians with dual citizenship of their Canadian citizenship if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian armed forces or commit acts of terrorism.

It appears that the majority of MPs will be supporting this discriminatory proposal.

Understandably, no one wants to be seen defending terrorists, making it awkward for anyone who wants to criticize this bill.

For the same reasons that critics who opposed the now dead Internet surveillance bill were not defending child molesters, critics of this proposal should not be accused of defending terrorists.

As far as I am concerned, judicially convicted terrorists should be thrown away in jail for a very long time.

What this bill does, however, is propose a new second class of citizenships. One for people who have only one citizenship and another for people who legally have more than one.

Notwithstanding the legitimate questions about who is going to be considered a terrorist and convicted by which authority, why would this law only apply to Canadians with dual citizenship but not other Canadians?

Does this mean that a Canadian with dual citizenship is less of a Canadian and has different rights and obligations?

Can this proposed law revoke the citizenship of a dual citizen who was born in Canada or is it really just aimed at immigrants signalling that unlike a Canadian born citizen, their citizenship will forever remain conditional?

No court will ever uphold such law.

The deeper and equally troubling implication of this bill is the fact that it promotes distrust towards Canadians with dual citizenship.

Currently, carrying another citizenship is legal in Canada. If we want to end the idea of dual citizenship, then let us discuss it instead of beating around the bush.

In fact, The Conservative government conducted a review in 2007 of Canada's dual citizenship policy and decided to retain it.

I would rather see the elimination of dual citizenship instead of constantly questioning of the loyalty of Canadians who have other citizenship by choice or by birth.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, said in his support of this bill "Canadian citizenship is predicated on loyalty to this country, and I cannot think of a more obvious act of renouncing one's sense of loyalty than going and committing acts of terror."

Sounds persuasive.

It is reasonable to demand loyalty from our citizens. Why wouldn't we have equal demands and accountability of citizens with a single Canadian citizenship just the same?

Why isn't the minister demanding the revocation of the citizenship of Jeffrey Delisle, the Canadian Naval Officer who pleaded guilty to spying for Russia? Delisle's crime sounds very much like a breach of loyalty to his country.

Such contradiction which is targeting only holders of dual citizenship is harmful to the meaning of Canadian citizenship and to the social fabric of our society by constantly questioning the sincerity of their loyalty to Canada.

If you have another citizenship in addition to your Canadian one, watch out! You may not feel threatened by this bill as you may never see yourself in a position where you would be accused of committing acts of terror or war, but this bill is declaring your citizenship to be worth less than your fellow Canadian.

I suspect most Canadians would probably support the idea of revoking the citizenship of anyone convicted of committing acts of terror. That is understandable.

Terrorism is a heinous crime and Canadians rightly want to show little tolerance for those who commit it.

But Canadians have also shown that they oppose laws that create different classes of citizenship. If Canadians fully examined the consequences of this proposal, they would not support a selective application of citizenship revocation.

I am personally uncomfortable with creating reactionary laws in response to extreme cases.

However, if we as a society want to exile citizens who betray their country, we need to apply it equally to all citizens.

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  • Albert Einstein

    In 1933, Einstein, a prominent German scientist, was accused of treason by the Third Reich. He then sought refuge in the United States.

  • Sigmund Freud

    The founder of psychoanalysis, Freud had to flee to London at 84, after having lived in Austria for 79 years, when Hitler's army attacked Austria.

  • Henry Kissinger

    A German-born American diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the Secretary of State in the Nixon Administration, Kissinger moved to New York with his family in 1938 after fleeing Nazi persecution.

  • Madeleine Albright

    Albright was a refugee whose family fled Czechoslovakia, first from the Nazis and later from the Communists. Albright went on to become the first female United States Secretary of State.

  • M.I.A (Ms. Arulpragasam)

    Grammy winning rapper/musician M.I.A. left Sri Lanka as a refugee from the country's ongoing civil war when she was nine; she moved to a housing project in London.

  • Gloria Estefan

    Born in Cuba, the pop icon fled with her family to Miami, Florida, during the Cuban Revolution.

  • Anne Frank

    Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 after the Nazis gained power in Germany. They were trapped by the occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940.

  • Karl Marx

    The famous philosopher was expelled from Paris at the end of 1844. He moved to Brussels where he was allowed to express himself in a way he couldn't in other European states.

 

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