15 October 2015

#75 Some Citizens Are More Equal

Let’s see if you can guess from its name what the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act” does. If you guessed “weakens Canadian citizenship for those judged unworthy", you’d be right!

This clever ruse by the outgoing government is going to have its judicial test sometime soon, but not before the election. The move to strip one young man who was born in Canada and then did something that he himself describes now as having been stupid has come conveniently near the end of the election campaign, after the government has whipped up a lot of fear of “those people”, however you might want to define that.

Whether or not the law withstands the coming Charter challenge, you would have to say that its application in the current case is a bit of a stretch. This young man’s parents immigrated from Pakistan more than three decades ago. In order to become Canadian citizens, they were obliged to renounce their Pakistani citizenship, as that country did not allow dual citizenship at the time. Their son, now convicted of participating in the “Toronto 18” plot and sentenced to eighteen years in prison, was born and raised in Canada.

The federal authorities seem to have decided that he has access to Pakistani citizenship because Pakistan has changed its laws on dual citizens and now permits the practice. There is no suggestion in any of the reports I have seen that his parents have, or that he has, sought to gain this supposedly accessible Pakistani citizenship. Just someone’s interpretation that it is available, so he can be stripped of his Canadian citizenship.

And before we all jump to the conclusion that this is another “old stock” / “new stock” problem, let’s just point out that a Canadian born in Canada without dual citizenship who dares to marry a foreigner and thereby gains the possibility of a second citizenship should watch his or her back. (Old Stock, stick to your own, I guess.)

I’m waiting for them to try to deport a first nations person married to a former foreigner — that would be the ultimate in political colonial theatre, no?

Further reading here and here

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