Parliament is back in session and is currently considering a piece of legislation known as Bill C-24. Proposed by the Conservative government, the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act” as it is also called contains several provisions that should alarm all residents and citizens of Canada.
Far from “strengthening” citizenship, Bill C-24 actually strengthens the power of the government to deprive individuals of their citizenship and imposes other unfair barriers to immigration that fly in the face of the country’s tradition of welcoming those who seek to contribute to the Canadian economy and build a new life here for themselves or their families. It should be vigorously and vocally opposed.
The Canadian Bar Association has already voiced its’ strong opposition to the Bill. The bar association is specifically concerned with three parts of the bill that it would like to see either significantly amended or scrapped:
- New eligibility requirements for becoming a citizen.
- Requiring that would-be citizens show an intent to reside in Canada.
- Expanding the grounds for revoking citizenship.
Bill C-24 would, if passed:
- Extend the costly language test to include those aged 14 – 64 (currently, only those aged 18 – 55 take the test);
- Give Immigration officers authority to deny citizenship if she or he as much as speculates that the applicant may not reside in Canada in the future;
- Require permanent residents to have lived in Canada for four years out of the last six in order to apply for citizenship. Currently, permanent residents applying for citizenship only had to be living in Canada for three out of the four years prior to their application;
- Triple the application fee.
Perhaps the most disturbing changes relate to the ability of the government to take away the rights of Canadian citizens. Specifically, it would:
- Remove a person’s right to appeal a negative citizenship decision;
- Strip the right to an oral hearing in front of a judge for those who are having their citizenship revoked;
- Revoke citizenship from those who did not obtain citizenship by birth if an official believes that the person never intended to live in Canada;
- Strip citizenship from dual citizens even if they were born in Canada if convicted of certain crimes, such as treason, high treason, terrorism, spying or certain offences under the National Defence Act.
The details of Bill C-24, which for the foregoing and other reasons threatens due process rights and other rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are set forth in great detail in this brief submitted to the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons by the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.
As an immigration lawyer committed to protecting the rights of Canadian citizens and those who seek to live, study, or work in Canada, I strenuously oppose Bill C-24. I have signed this petition on the change.org website urging the government to withdraw Bill C-24, and would urge you to do the same and work to defeat this unfair and unreasonable piece of legislation.
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