Immigration bill C-24 decried as path to two-tiered Canadian citizenship

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Proposed changes to the Citizenship Act could create a new class of naturalized Canadians who have fewer rights than those born in the country.

That’s according to Zool Suleman, a Vancouver immigration lawyer. He told the Straight that Bill C-24, which was introduced in February as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, would make it so that new immigrants to Canada could see their citizenship revoked at the discretion of government bureaucrats.

Citizenship could be rescinded if it’s decided an individual fails to show “intent” to reside in Canada, Suleman explained in a telephone interview. Immigrants could also lose their citizenship if they are found guilty of a crime, which creates a form of “double punishment” for one group of Canadians that does not apply to another, Suleman continued.

“There has always been a gradation between a citizen, a resident, and someone who is here on a temporary basis,” he said. “But I think what is happening now is a cleavage is opening up where more and more people are being left in this indeterminist status.”

Suleman noted that with Canada’s low birth rates, the number of Canadians that could come to be affected by these changes is significant.

According to Statistics Canada, immigration accounted for 67 percent of Canada’s population growth in 2013. That number is expected to rise to 80 percent by 2031. In 2011, British Columbia had the lowest birth rate of any province in Canada.

The Canadian Bar Association has found some of the proposed changes are “likely unconstitutional”. A 31-page brief prepared by the CBA’s national immigration law section states that the citizenship-revocation process outlined in Bill C-24 will “primarily be a paper one”, wherein a hearing before a Federal Court judge will only be granted “in limited circumstances”. The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers has also published a summary of the changes outlining its concerns.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada declined to make a representative available for an interview.

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, NDP critic for citizenship and immigration, takes issue with provisions that allow for the revocation of citizenship without avenues for remediation.

“A lot of lawyers have argued against the constitutionality of this bill because there is no appeal process possible,” she told the Straight in a telephone interview.

Like Suleman, Blanchette-Lamothe called attention to the potential for Bill C-24 to create a different set of rules for citizens new to Canada.

“There should not be two tiers of citizens, where one citizen can have access to our judicial system and another one cannot because their parents are Egyptian, for example,” she said. “That’s a very dangerous path.”

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Of Course Lawyers Dislike This

May 22, 2014 at 2:22pm

Hearings before judges mean more money for lawyers. Of course they don't want a situation where lawyers don't get "their cut" of an adjudication.

It is entirely appropriate to have different classes of citizens---the USA does, you cannot run for president if you are not a natural born citizen of the USA.

We already have lots of decisions made by bureaucrats: zoning decisions, regulatory decisions, etc. etc. No natural born Canadian has anything to fear from this---the only people with something to fear are those who might have their citizenship revoked. And in an appeal of an administrative action, there is a different burden than if a federal judge is hearing the matter for the first time. That is probably what the lawyers object to, that they won't be able to use lawyer tricks to get their rich clients off. Does Government provide lawyers for people who cannot afford them in immigration matters?

And the idea that our birth rate is negative therefore we should be importing foreign human resources is nutty. Are Canadians sterile, impotent? Maybe we should encourage our own people to have children through incentives, etc. rather than engaging in a left-wing ideological war that says westerners have "too much" of everything, even children, that it is time to "redistribute the wealth" by slashing our birth rate while actively importing foreigners.

Dan

May 22, 2014 at 7:32pm

Our out of control immigration system is driving house prices through the roof in Vancouver. The result is young families leaving and thus a declining birth rate.

If we want our immigration system to help with the birth rate, why not restrict all immigration to those under 30 years old?

Yeah!

May 22, 2014 at 7:34pm

Having read the first comment ("Of Course Lawyers Dislike This"), I'm glad to see that members of the First Nations community are finally speaking up about all those foreigners!

K

May 22, 2014 at 9:25pm

Your ancestors were immigrants, too. Canada's first prime minister was born in Scotland.

Michele Baillie

May 22, 2014 at 11:22pm

With Citizenship comes loyalties and responsibilities. Those include respecting the laws and social norms of the country you live in. That includes not beating your wife, or women beating their husbands. It does not allow you to sell your childs or spouses kidney or lung to reduce your mortage or tolerating honour killings/beatings either.

In Canada we have what is called The Criminal Code;and yes, it changes from time to time; hey, that's called evolution. It defines what is unacceptable and what is not. The maxims and precepts in Law contained within the Criminal Code contain these paradigms:

You are free; though you are responsible and accountable for your actions when you interfere with the freedom of another. People are equal, though they are different. No one person is more valuable than another.

Not too hard to follow for anyone who has some compassion for other people.

There are perqs for being a Canadian Citizen too; Healthcare, Education, Retirement Pension, Safety; room for improvement there to be honest, lots of room to live and travel just to name a few.

If you can't behave and measure up to what is expected of a Canadian Citizen, than I think you should not BE a Canadian Citizen. This includes "parking" your family here while you go commit criminal acts elsewhere in the world. Espionage against Canada because of your cultural or religious ideology. Funding, aiding and abetting, helping to conceal War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity anywhere in the world....these last two seem to be a particular specialty of some Dual Citizens according to my intel sources.

If a Canadian posessess the basic compassion of "treat another person how you would like to be treated" than they would not seriously consider doing what is in the paragraph immediately above this one, and the proposed law mentioned in this article would never be brought to bear upon them.

Lawyers are lawyers; some are quite nice and are principled people, others are more neutral in their outlook; that is the "mix" of different people that makes the world go 'round.

Leaders understand that certain things need to be done; to maintain a country....Statesmanship, an understanding of human nature, compassion; along with a thorough understanding of the paradox of violence and criminality are essential to making WISE decisions- including unpopular ones...to ensure Canada stays strong

Mohamed Fouad

May 23, 2014 at 4:00am

Creating 2 tires of Canadians is not constitutional and against Canada values and human rights principles. All Canadians should be treated equally. Citizenship revocation should not be a punishment for those Canadians convicted with a crime. Criminal law, however, should be applied equally on all convicted people after a fair trial whether they are Canadians, permanent residents or visitors.

skeptic

May 23, 2014 at 7:05am

Considering Canada is a land built by immigration and touts itself on its 'multiculturalism' this law in itself is discriminatory. Are we saying Canada's too full, too good for people now?

JRC

May 23, 2014 at 4:38pm

My problem is not with some immigration reform, this is a live issue through many wealthy countries, it's with badly drafted legislation.

It's a bit of a joke that the government that was selling TWCs brings in something to block or manipulate ("strengthen") citizenship - it's like refusing to turn off a tap while you're using paper towels to soak up the pool. Dealing with concerns about citizens of convenience and insufficient ties to Canada needs more targeted law and policy, not faceless bureaucrats. They're using things with general appeal to a certain demographic (greater emphasis on language testing scores, more days required to qualify), to try and sneak through things that aggregate the government a bunch of arbitrary power (Ministerial decisions not subject to review!).

Marion Vermeersch

May 24, 2014 at 7:58am

Anyone who had their citizenship stripped as I did in 2003 (no judicial process there, no notice & no way to appeal)would agree with giving the right to strip citizenship, legally, to a single political office holder.
My Dad was a Canadian soldier in WWII, Mom was his War Bride, and there was a Canadian Privy Council Order in place stating clearly that we would be given citizenship upon arrival at the end of the war. We lived our entire lives here in Ontario, paid all taxes, participated in everything: my parents loved Canada and would be appalled to know, were they alive, that this had happened.

I grew up in Norfolk County,often known as "tobacco country", home to diverse agriculture and also to a diverse cultural mix as many immigrants arrived after wars and revolutions with their languages and cultures. They enriched this area while contributing greatly to the economy. Many of their descendants are dual citizens depending on Canada's agreements with the countries from whence they came. They deserve better than to be relegated to some sort of second-class citizenship.
Citizenship is important: I hope they take their time and reconsider carefully this new legislation. I don't want mine back, as a Lost Canadian, only to be subject to losing it again if somebody decides I don't meet their standards.
Nor do I look forward to having mine restored, as a child of a war bride, when there are four other groups not apparently included in this. There also is no acknowledgement that all those soldiers of wars prior to 1947 were never citizens, which is part of the rationale for stripping ours(even though, like Jackie Scott's, they may have been born in Canada).

Narif

May 24, 2014 at 11:51am

This bill is unconstitutional, plain and simple:

1- Violates the principal that all citizens are equal under the law. Because now what applies for one citizen (naturalized) doesn't apply for another (born). It effectively creates a 1st class and 2nd class citizens.

2- It uses citizenship stripping as punishment. This has no precedence in the free world!

3- It plain out violates section 6.(1) (Mobility Rights) of the "Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms" signed by her majesty the queen in 1982, which plainly states: "6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.". Now Harper wants to change the constitution to only accommodate "first-class" citizens?!

4- It plain out tries to circumvent a Canadian law pinnacle: THE DUE PROCESS. Harper is trying to give his bureaucrats the power to strip citizenship from whoever "they see fit" with no possibility of appeal or even a hearing!

Harper and his government are planning to rape the constitution with their parliamentary majority. Their proposal is not only unconstitutional, but will also only result in bitterness with new immigrants, instead of helping them to integrate - something that's already difficult for those who did not have to go through it.

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