Immigration experts say Bill C-24 discriminatory and weakens citizenship

posted on June 27, 2014

By Debra Black, the Star | Link to Article

By Debra Black, the Star | Link to Article

With Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, Ottawa has dramatically redefined the narrative of what it is to be Canadian, squaring it up with a federal Conservative Party view of the world and the nation emphasizing patriotism, rule of law, the military and the monarchy.

But in doing so, the government has also triggered what can only be seen as a quintessential Canadian debate. Is citizenship a right or a privilege? Is Canadian citizenship undervalued? Under which circumstances can it be revoked?

And it’s a debate that will likely linger a long time now that the legislation has received royal assent.

When Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander announced the reforms earlier this year at a news conference at Toronto’s Fort York, he said the new act was designed to “protect and strengthen the great value of Canadian citizenship, and remind individuals that citizenship is not a right, it’s a privilege.”

He went on: “It is in honour of those who protected this city, in honour of those who have served and serve today, in honour of all who have made the sacrifice of war, and those who have contributed in their own way to building this great country, that we are further strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship.”

But the changes — which include lengthening the residency requirement, asking for a statement of intent by prospective citizens that they intend to live here, broadening the ages required for a knowledge test in Canada’s official languages, expanding powers to revoke citizenship and streamlining the application process — are not seen by all as a step in the right direction.

Since the act’s introduction there has been a rising tide of criticism, much of it focused on perceived violation of human and Charter rights, a shift to treating citizenship as a privilege and expanded revocation powers.

Read more