There has been considerable controversy regarding Bill C-24 and some individuals have even begun a petition against it. Why do Canadians feel so strongly about this particular bill?
Bill C-24 aims to set out citizenship requirements and reasons for citizenship revocation. Under the old legislation, citizenship revocation only applied to individuals with dual citizenships. It would usually take up to three years to revoke a person’s citizenship due to a lengthy process. First the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister would indicate his/her intent to retract citizenship. If the applicant chose to go to Federal Court, then the Federal Court (FC) would determine if the citizenship was obtained under false pretenses. Finally, the Governor in Council would determine if it was appropriate to revoke the citizenship. Hence, citizenship was relatively secure. Under the old bill, the major concern for action was based on fraud/ fraudulently obtaining a citizenship but even then the individual would have a complete hearing before a decision was made.
The new bill has a new interpretation; the bill still applies to individuals with dual-citizenships but also applies to individuals that have a possibility of a dual citizenship. In accordance to the new legislation a person can have their citizenship revoked if: they retained/resumed citizenship under false pretenses; they knowingly concealed material circumstances (for instance information that would impact their suitability for citizenship/permanent residence).
Furthermore, their citizenship can be revoked from individuals with dual citizenships if: the person served on an army or organized armed group that is armed conflict with Canada, they were convicted of treason/high treason, spying offences and sentenced to imprisonment for life or were convicted of a terrorism offence/equivalent foreign terrorism conviction and were sentenced to minimum of five years of imprisonment.
The new system is meant to be more cost and time effective. The majority of cases relating to residence fraud, concealing criminal inadmissibility or identity fraud will be decided by the CIC Minister. Conversely, exceptional cases i.e. involving war crimes, crimes against humanity and security, human or international right violations and organized criminality would be decided by the FC. Essentially the case load has been decided to avoid a lengthy process.
The government aims to make Canadian citizenships harder to obtain and easier to lose which enforces a sense of a commitment and loyalty to the country. The government is hoping to weed out individuals who use their citizenships for “convenience” but have no real commitment to Canada.
Most individuals are not alarmed by these new additions as they do not impact them. However, some individuals have reason for concern. There are approximately 863,000 individuals with dual citizenships in Canada.
Foreign students and workers will no longer be permitted to use their time spent in Canada prior to obtaining a permanent residence card towards their Canadian Citizenship application. According to the old bill, the minimum time someone had to reside in Canada before applying for citizenship status was three years but that has now been increased to four years. Consequently, immigrants who may want to leave the country for emergency purposes such as death of a loved one may not return to their home country in fear of losing their eligibility to obtain a Canadian citizenship.
Individuals with language barriers
The new bill requires immigrants to pass a language test and Canadian knowledge tests in either English or French. The previous bill applied these conditions to individuals from age 18- 55 but the new bill has expanded the age to include individuals between 14-64.
A point that is rarely considered is the fact that some individuals hold a dual citizenship and may not be aware of it. For instance, some countries consider someone a citizen if their parents are citizens of that particular country without having to apply for a citizenship. Similarly, some countries laws extend citizenship to individuals based on their grandparents and family heritage – again without informing the individual.
Some individuals argue that Bill C-24 is undemocratic and un-Canadian. Many individuals contest to the two-tier Canadian citizenship ideology where individuals born in Canada are considered first class Canadians and immigrants are second class citizens. Consequently, many have started signing a petition to have the bill changed. Others suggest that the bill will help reinforce Canadian identity and help fight terrorism.
Where do you stand?
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