07/08/2014 12:36 EDT | Updated 09/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Don't Spread Conspiracy Theories About Canadian Citizenship

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I write in response to the misleading piece by Corey Levine, "Canada Day Makes Me Feel Uneasy About My Citizenship" (July 1, 2014).

Our Conservative government introduced the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act in order to: protect the value of Canadian citizenship and prevent fraud; ensure citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to Canada by clarifying that the "residence" period to qualify for citizenship in fact requires a physical presence in Canada; improve processing by cutting red tape and saving taxpayers' dollars; and provide that citizenship can be revoked from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and spying offences (depending on the sentence received), or who take up arms against Canada. These are principles that Canadians understand and accept.

Canadians also understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience, and our reforms send a strong and clear message that those who betray our country or take up arms against our armed forces have, in essence, forfeited their right to Canadian citizenship.

This reflects the foundation of allegiance that lies at the base of our Canadian citizenship, which Bill C-24 will protect and enhance.

However, we have been clear about the fact that this provision will not apply to cases where there are concerns about the judicial system in a particular country. Such is the case of Mohamed Fahmy, the journalist imprisoned in Egypt. Our government has stated our concerns with the integrity of the judicial process, and we continue to advocate on Mr. Fahmy's behalf and provide him with consular services.

Shamefully, Ms. Levine's fear-mongering continues. She raises the case of Deepan Budlokoti who is being removed from Canada for "serious criminality" as he served significant jail time for trafficking both weapons and drugs. Even though Mr. Budlakoti was born in Canada, he is not a citizen due to the 1977 Citizenship Act which amended the rule to exclude all children of foreign born diplomats born in Canada from Canadian citizenship unless one of the parents was a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. No application for citizenship has ever been made by him or on his behalf. Mr. Budlakoti is a convicted criminal who has never been a Canadian citizen and should not have chosen a life of crime if he did not want to be deported from Canada.

Canadian citizenship is uniquely valuable in the world -- it is a privilege, that carries with it duties and rights, and responsibilities. As our Government transforms the immigration system, it is also critical to ensure that we protect and strengthen the great value of Canadian citizenship, and remind individuals that citizenship is not a right, it's a privilege.

Ms. Levine attempts to mislead Canadians about the reasonable reforms of the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to no avail. Canadians are able to see through her conspiracy theories.


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