Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Weakening Canadian Citizenship

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Weakening Canadian Citizenship

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Weakening Canadian citizenship

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published June 13:

Citizenship is supposed to mean that every member of a country is equal in all respects. It's a lifetime entitlement that can never be taken away, unless an individual decides to revoke it in favour of another nationality or committed fraud in obtaining it.

The Harper government, however, is threatening to undermine that principle with its Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (Bill C-24), which could create two classes of citizens.

If the legislation is passed, Canadians with dual citizenship could be deported if they are convicted of treason or terrorism in Canada or elsewhere, or if they join a foreign army or group that is hostile to Canada. The bill would also require new Canadians to declare their intent to live in Canada, a test that applies to no other natural-born citizen.

Many Canadians have dual citizenship, even if they were born here. That's because some countries automatically confer citizenship to the children and even grandchildren of expatriates. Some countries, including Canada, do not automatically revoke citizenship when people move to other countries. The result is there are many thousands of Canadians with dual citizenship, even if they aren't aware of it. There are some 250,000 people with Canadian passports, for example, living in Hong Kong.

Treason and terrorism are serious crimes, but Canadians suspected of those offences should be tried in the courts. That's how Canadian citizens are treated; under the new legislation that would change for those with dual citizenship, making them lesser Canadians.

Citizens should not be subject to different laws and consequences based on the nature of their citizenship.

There is also a risk in linking Canadian citizenship to participation in contemporary events. A quick review of some key moments in Canadian history illustrates the point.

Louis Riel led two violent uprisings and was hanged for treason, but today he's remembered as a "father of Confederation" and defender of minority rights. …

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