It was great talking to you on the phone and I do hope we can get this message out to a wider audience. It is of critical importance that our community understand this threat and use their voting power to support the right party and candidates who will repeal Bill C-24 and give our rights back to us. Will wait to hear what you have to say about the article.
We have started a ONE-CANADA campaign to unite during and after the elections and work towards repealing Bill C-24. Join us by visiting our website at www.one-canada.org
10 Reasons why Naturalized Citizens and Second Generation Canadians should be worried about Bill C-24
Bill C-24, which was voted into law earlier this year, has resulted in widespread changes in the Citizenship Act. These changes are retroactive, and apply not only to naturalized citizens but also to their children, even if the children are Canadian by birth. The amendments have effected a very real targeting of new Canadians, a curtailment of their freedoms and the creation of a second class of citizens who have fewer rights than ‘first-class’ citizens.
As a direct result of Bill C-24, new Canadians are no longer free to move and live outside of Canada, and must declare and demonstrate ‘intent to live’ in Canada or risk having their citizenship revoked, while other citizens have no such restrictions placed on their movements.
First-class Canadians cannot have their citizenship revoked under any circumstances, but naturalized citizens, including their Canadian born children and grandchildren can – for a range of offences listed in Bill C-24 that are open to very loose interpretation. Additionally, the life-changing decision to revoke a person’s citizenship can now be taken by a single immigration official, with no recourse to the judicial system.
The amendments the Bill has put forward have been presented as safeguarding Canada from terrorism. However, on a closer read it is apparent that it severely curtails the rights and liberties of the average law-abiding citizen. There is clear targeting of new Canadians and their descendants, who have been reduced to second-class citizens with fewer freedoms, rights and privileges than ‘old’ Canadians.
Most immigrants come to Canada to build a better future for themselves, and more importantly, for their children. However, if the rights of new Canadians have already been limited through Bill C-24 and they and their children are under threat of losing their citizenship for any wrong step they take knowingly or unknowingly, then this is not really the better and brighter future that immigrants to Canada hoped for.
Read the article below to understand in more detail why you should be worried about Bill C-24, and what you can do about it.
Changes to the Citizenship Act and Why You Should Be Worried (WYSBW)
1. An immigrant must now declare ‘intent to reside’ in Canada in order to be granted Canadian citizenship.
WYSBW: Once you have declared your intent to reside in Canada, if you take up an international assignment or need to return to your homeland, you can be accused of obtaining your citizenship by misrepresentation and can have your citizenship revoked.
2. The only accepted criteria for a new Canadian to live and work abroad are if he/she is employed by the Government, either Federal or provincial, or by the Canadian Armed Forces. Alternatively a new Canadian can accompany a spouse employed by these agencies. A new Canadian cannot live and work abroad otherwise.
WYSBW: The Canadian Charter of Rights gives all citizens the complete freedom of movement. This clause directly curtails the freedoms and liberties of all naturalized Canadians (and their children after them) and creates two levels of citizens – those free to travel and live where they wish, and those that cannot travel or live outside Canada without risk.
These second-class citizens will forever be confined within the boundaries of Canada, unable to study, work or live abroad without questions about their commitment to Canada and the threat of revocation of their citizenship.
3. The Citizenship Act states that citizenship can be revoked for a person who gave false representation at the time of obtaining citizenship.
WYSBW: This clause, when combined with the new clause introduced by Bill C-24, the declaration of ‘intent to reside in Canada’, a citizen who leaves Canada for whatever reason, can be accused of misrepresentation at the time of obtaining citizenship and can have their citizenship revoked. On the other hand, ‘first-class’ citizens have no such restrictions placed upon them and cannot have their citizenship revoked, even if they spend their entire lives abroad.
4. A Canadian citizen can now be stripped of citizenship if convicted of criminal activity inside or outside of Canada.
WYSBW: Firstly, most if not all New Canadians condemn any acts of terrorism or criminal activity. However, creating different standards of conduct, and punishment, for New and Old Canadians serves only to divide society, and diminishes the authenticity and value of Canadian Citizenship for New Canadians.
Please note that this clause only applies to new Canadians. ‘Old’ Canadians cannot be stripped of their citizenship no matter what crime they commit. Across the world, punishing criminals is the domain of the criminal justice system, not that of immigration ministry. Finally, the wording of this clause is vague and is open to an extremely broad interpretation of what passes as criminal activity. Because the terminology is so vague, there are chances of misuse and manipulation, which is heightened by the fact that there is no longer any judicial recourse or oversight.
5. To avoid violating international law on the reduction of statelessness, the only Canadian citizens who are at risk of having their citizenship stripped are those carrying dual citizenship or those eligible to claim dual citizenship.
WYSBW: This clause deliberately targets new Canadians, creating a two-tiered set of citizens in Canada – ‘old’ Canadians whose citizenship cannot be revoked lest they become stateless and naturalized citizens whose citizenship can be stripped because they hold or can claim citizenship of another country.
This clause also opens naturalized citizens to further discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin. The naturalized citizen whose country of origin does not allow for dual citizenship are safe because their citizenship cannot be revoked. Citizens hailing from countries that do acknowledge dual citizenship are penalized and are at risk.
6. Citizenship can be stripped from a citizen who can claim citizenship of another country through birth, parents, marriage or any other association.
WYSBW: A Canadian citizen who has renounced their previous citizenship and can still be stripped of citizenship if the immigration official feels they are eligible to claim citizenship from another country. This means that even if you have renounced that nationality, you can be stripped of your Canadian citizenship since you are eligible for another nationality, if an immigration official determines that your country of origin still recognizes your claim to citizenship.
Similarly if your spouse or your future generations can claim citizenship of a different nation through marriage or descent, they too can be stripped of their citizenship regardless of whether they are even aware of the fact that they have a claim to dual citizenship.
7. Being born in Canada, or being born to a Canadian citizen, does not preclude a person from having their citizenship revoked. A citizen who is eligible for dual nationality through marriage to, or descent from a naturalized citizen can have their nationality revoked.
WYSBW: Bill C-24 has redefined the entire concept of citizenship by removing the right to citizenship based on birth for the children of naturalized citizens. Your children, even if they were born Canadians, can have their citizenship revoked if they can claim eligibility for another nationality through you.
If you as a naturalized citizen came to Canada for a better future for your children and future generations – think again. Your descendants will still face the same limitations and restrictions as you do, simply because they are descendants of an immigrant.
8. The assessment and enforcement of citizenship revocation has been moved into the hands and discretion of an immigration official – not via judicial inquiry or process.
WYSBW: The entire process of granting and revoking citizenship will be conducted by immigration officials rather than an impartial, qualified, independent judiciary. Once again, the broad terminology and unclear processes established under Bill C-24 for granting and revoking citizenship are liable to grave misuse and abuse. There is no appeal process and the decision made by a single official is final and binding.
9. A citizen whose citizenship has been revoked has no recourse to a judicial hearing. In some cases of serious crime, the Minister may call for a hearing.
WYSBW: Bill C-24 does away with the process of a court of appeal and hearing for citizens whose citizenship has been revoked. Only serious criminals have the right to a hearing – the average citizen has no such recourse.
10. Bill C-24 is retroactive.
WYSBW: This means that even if your citizenship was granted years ago, the provisions of this law apply to you.
We think Bill C-24 is unfair, discriminatory and divisive, and is against the principles of equality, diversity, multiculturalism and inclusiveness that defined Canada.
Bill C-24 has already been passed into law, but you can still do something.
Elections are coming up and as New Canadians there has never been a better time to rise up and show our political strength, to add our voices to a unified, fair and progressive Canada.
We need to unite to support candidates and parties that understand the concerns that this bill raises. You could, as an example, consider voting for parties that have publicly stated their opposition to the bill, and have committed to repealing Bill C-24, should they come to power. We also need to have the unity and strength to ensure follow-through on these election promises, ensuring that the bill is repealed within a 100 days of the new government coming to power.
What You Can Do
We have started a ONE-CANADA campaign to unite during and after the elections and work towards repealing Bill C-24. Join us by visiting our website at www.one-canada.org and do the following:
1. Sign the petition asking all four PM candidates to repeal Bill C-24 within 100 days of taking offices, and introduce an amended bill that safeguards Canada but not at the expense of the rights and civil liberties of New Canadians.
2. Ask all candidates running from your constituency about their stance on Bill C-24. Research their previous voting history. Is this the person you trust to help create an inclusive, diverse and fair Canada?
3. Use our automatic mailer to let your friends know about Bill C-24 and what they can do to help amend this divisive piece of legislation.
4. Talk to at least 5 people about why you and they should be concerned about Bill C-24 in its present form. Ask to speak to present in your family, and also at your temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, gurduwaras, jamaat-khanaas, community centers or libraries.
5. Finally, if you haven’t done so yet, please join our mailing list.