There is an ongoing debate surrounding what constitutes a Canadian citizenship. Is it a privilege or right? Has Canadian citizenship become a two-tier system? Many have conflicting attitudes when answering these questions. Media has portrayed the new Canadian citizenship act (Bill C-24) to be a two-tier system. Many individuals, especially immigrants are outraged to be considered “less Canadian” than their Canadian born counterparts. Zakaria Amara’s case highlights this issue.
Zakaria Amara is a convicted terrorist for his part in the Toronto 18 group. The group had planned to plant three bombs throughout Toronto which could have potentially killed hundreds of individuals. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 with a chance of parole. He has resided in Canada for most of his life but was born in Jordan. However, due to Bill C-24, his citizenship has been revoked. Consequently, he will likely be deported upon parole.
Some individuals argue that deporting Amara is a sign of xenophobia and only feeds the idea of a two-tier citizenship model within Canada. Many are perturbed by the idea that only individuals with dual-citizenships, largely immigrants, are subjected to this kind of treatment as another Canadians without a dual –citizenship would not have their citizenship revoked. These individuals argue that citizenship is a right and not a privilege; thus, his citizenship should remain intact and he should serve his sentence in Canada.
In addition, many individuals have begun questioning why citizenship revocation hasn’t been extended to other criminals including rapists and serial killers. The idea is other criminals with citizenships are tried within the law and they do not have their citizenship revoked and neither should terrorists. Terrorists should not be sent to their parent’s homeland as a result of their criminal conduct.
In opposition, Amara’s choice to partake in a premeditated terrorist plan to bomb Toronto shows he has no respect for his fellow Canadians. Consequently, terrorists should not be considered Canadian as they have failed to uphold their allegiance to the country and its values. Hence, anyone involved in a terrorist attack should have their citizenship revoked, regardless of if their parents are immigrants or not. Some individuals also feel that if you are born in Canada only then citizenship is a right and if born elsewhere it is a privilege.
This case has highlighted the question, what is a Canadian citizenship worth? Canadians and politicians are conflicted and divided in their opinions and sentiments. In the recent Munk debate, Trudeau and Harper stood on opposite ends of this issue. The Harper government put in place Bill C-24 while Trudeau wants to address its shortcomings and believes that terrorists should not have their citizenship revoked.
Where do you stand?
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Points of Discussion:
1. What are your thoughts?