Bill C-24

Welcome Trudeau!

VoteThis morning Canadians woke up with a new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Canadians wanted change and most voted for a “real change”.  68.49% of eligible voters took initiative and voted in the election. The last time there was this large of a voter turn-out was in 1993 when Jean Chrétien swept the office. Similar to 1993, the Liberals did not win a minority but a majority in the 2015 election.  There is no denying that the Trudeau legacy comes with great hopes and expectations from citizens.

Pierre Trudeau’s son

Justin Trudeau will be the first offspring of a Prime Minister to be elected into office. Justin is also the first Prime Minister to be born in Ottawa and the second child to be born to a serving Prime Minister.  October 18th, would’ve been Pierre Trudeau’s 96th birthday, a day later, his son Justin Trudeau won office.  Justin was born on Christmas Day –based on these facts it seems like Justin has an interesting relationship with numbers.

Also, Trudeau’s maternal grandfather, James Sinclair was a Liberal cabinet minister in the 1950’s. Trudeau was a social science and French teacher, an actor, an advocate for animal rights and now our Prime Minister. His wife Sophie Grégoire is a former television personality and model who had her own show that aired in Quebec. She is also a women’s right activist and holds matters ranging from equal pay to Aboriginal rights close to her heart.

What does “real change” entail? Every_Canadian_Needs_A_Copy

Justin Trudeau has spoken against the two-tier citizenship law and believes that a “Canadian is a Canadian” and should not have their citizenship revoked by elected officials, but only by the justice system.  He aims to honour the Charter of Rights and Freedoms his father put in place and legislation that provides tax cuts to middle class Canadians. He wants to amend Bill C-51, the Anti- terrorist Act.  Trudeau has also argued that the government needs to be pro-active with the Syrian refugee situation; he wants to bring in 25,000 refugees and spend $100 million this fiscal year to speed up the processing, sponsorship, and settlement services in Canada.

Trudeau wants to legalize marijuana and protect sex – workers; two stances the opposition did not support. He also wants to launch a national public inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women crisis to obtain justice for victims and their families. As a result of this election, 8 Liberal and 2 NDP MP’s with indigenous backgrounds will have places in the House of Commons. Trudeau also wants to put in place the Transparency Act; he wants the public to know how their tax money is being used.

His goals sound like “real change” but will Trudeau measure up? Canadians have high hopes and a need for improvement.  Living up to the Trudeau name carries its own weight without considering the state that the economy, environment and global issues Canada is facing.  All the best to Trudeau, Canadians are counting on you.

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Discussion Points:

  1. Is it fair to expect Justin Trudeau to live up to his father’s legacy?
  2. Did you vote for Trudeau? Why or why not?
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Game of Thrones Meets Canadian Politicians

GotI recently found an article portraying election party leaders as The Game of Thrones characters. Needless to say, the comparison was brilliant! I decided to expand on the article by supporting some of the statements with corresponding legislation and my own thoughts. If you aren’t up to date with the show, there are some spoilers.

Harper; Joffrey Baratheon

Harpers government has been known to swiftly remove individuals who oppose their regime and ideals. One may argue Bill C-51: The Anti-terrorist Act, Bill C-24: The Citizenship Act and the niqab debate have resulted in an “us vs. them” mentality. The article states that Harper is largely disliked by many. Some women argue that Harper’s government lacks respect for women. For instance, many Aboriginals argue that not enough has been done to protect and find missing Aboriginal women. Finally, opposing politicians have argued that Harper (much like Joffrey) has disgraced the global perception of Canadians due to his choices. Nevertheless, unlike Joffrey, Harper still has a strong following.

Jon_Snow_and_Ghost Trudeau; Jon Snow

Trudeau has a famous father and aims to bring a new approach to politics. Like Snow, Trudeau was underestimated by his seniors but has become a leader to many of his followers. Trudeau portrays himself as a teacher, advocate and leader – all of these qualities are possessed by Snow. Trudeau claims to be concerned about climate change, like Snow, he too acknowledges “winter is coming”. Trudeau argues that supporting the Anti-terrorism Act was a means of survival; he felt forced to support the legislation to protect Canadians against ISIS but claims he will amend the bill once in power. Similarly, Snow had worked with the opposing group (the Wildings) for survival as he took up arms against the white walkers to protect others.

khaleesi

May; Khaleesi

Khaleesi: a powerful woman with great plans for empowering the vulnerable members of society. She advocates for the homeless, displaced and marginalized individuals in society. She wants to provide homes, a safe environment and protection for Canadians by improving the National Housing Strategy and implementing her Guaranteed Liveable Income. She is creating a strong and loyal following based on her social policies. However, much like Khaleesi, she is overlooked by her male counterparts.

TyrionMulcair; Tyrion Lannister

Mulcair has considerably more political experience than his opponents. He has demonstrated opposition to the throne (Harpers government) by opposing bills such as the Anti-Terrorism Act. He has compassion for marginalized individuals within the community and is often close to but never on the throne – however, that can change in this election. He claims to be willing to work with the green party to create the change he believes Canada needs. Similarly, Tyrion is willing to work with Khaleesi to create as well. Finally, if Mulcair doesn’t win the election, much like Tyrion, this probably won’t be the last you hear of him.

Did you enjoy this piece? If so, please press “like” and subscribe! Share this post with other Game of Thrones fans.

Points of Discussion:

  1. Are these characters a good fit?
  2. What else would you add to each of these characters?

The original article link: http://www.joeydevilla.com/2015/10/12/game-of-thrones-canadian-elections-edition/

What Does a Canadian Citizenship Mean To You?

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.

passportControversy
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.

FlagThis 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?

Did you learn something new? Did you like this piece? If so please press like and subscribe!

Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts?

How Did THAT Become Law?

Many individuals complain about the law but few of us understand the complexities of how laws come to be. Just take a minute and force yourself to think back to grade five when you learnt how a bill was passed, how much do you really remember? One would assume that we would know at least the basics about how our laws are passed. Just in case you’re not sure, here’s a quick recap.

Bills are often introduced by the government. Opposition members and individuals parliamentarians can also introduce bills; these bills are often referred to as Private Member’s Bills.

  1. A bill is usually drafted to make changes to an existing law or create a new law all together.  What’s a bill? A bill is a drafted proposal or idea to change the law.  Legislation proposals can take place in both the Senate and the House of Commons.  Bills introduced in the Senate have a S in the title for example Bill S-7 while a bill introduced in the House of Commons have a C, for example Bill C-24. When the bill is read in the House that it was drafted in (either the Senate or House of Commons) it is referred to as the First Reading. Think of this as pitching an idea for the first time in an organization.
  2. Following the First Reading is the Second Reading. This step allows parliamentarians to ask questions and debate over the bill. This is where the bill is analyzed to assess its effectiveness if it were to be implemented (i.e. who will be impacted by the bill?). Does the bill achieve the goal that it is set to achieve?  The parliamentarian members then vote on the bill and if the majority agrees, then the bill passes. If the bill passes this stage it then continues to the committee stage.

  3. The Committee Stage is often the stage most people forget because it seems minor. However, this stage allows committee members to hold hearings where government and non-government individuals ask questions and committee members can have questions answered by witnesses and experts.  The committee then puts together a report of any amendments (changes) they think should be implemented by the House that introduced the bill.
  4. Report Stage. This stage allows committee members to provide the House with any changes they believe to be necessary.  All parliamentarians are welcome to debate the bill.  Non- committee members are also allowed to suggest changes to the bill at this stage in the process.
  5. Third Reading. Third time is the charm! The bill is then opened up for a third round of debate.  Sometimes parliamentarians are not content with the changes made to the bill after the Second Reading and can vote against the bill in the Third Reading.  If the bill does successfully pass at this point, then the bill is sent to the House that did not propose the bill to undergo the same process again of three readings.
  6. Royal Assent. This final stage only takes place after both Houses have passed the bill with the exact same wording. Differentiation in wording can lead to the bill not receiving royal assent as it can be interpreted differently.  The Governor General then approves and signs the bill, making it a law. This is referred to as Royal Assent. The bill then becomes a law.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post that will outline how this process can be impacted by the party in power.

Points of Discussion:

1. What part of the process did you know the least about?

2. Do you think this is an effective system?

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It’s Election Time!

Now some of you may be wondering why TSP is writing about political matters in a legal forum, but the reality is that the two realms are closely linked; many legal developments take place for political reasons especially during election periods.

TSP is not aiming to sway your vote for one party over another but rather to highlight the legislation that has helped shape the competing political parties. The candidacy for Prime Minister is compelling but the support/lack thereof for certain legislation has impacted how voters view the candidates. The competition currently seems to be strong between three parties: The Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP. Here are some legal decisions which may impact your vote. Since most individuals are familiar with the Conservative party, this post will focus more on the Liberal party.

The Conservatives

The Conservatives have received considerable backlash due to their recent legal proposals including Bill C-24 Citizenship Act and Bill C-51 Anti-Terrorism Act. Each of these legislations is discussed more at length on the TSP as individual pieces. Many Canadians feel betrayed by these decisions and find the acts to be unconstitutional and unnecessary.

The Liberals

Justin Trudeau chose to support Bill C-51 but since then has suggested amendments to the act. Trudeau claims that while preventing terrorism is essential, he believes Canadians’ rights should not be compromised. However, many Canadians are weary of his words due to his choice to support the legislation in the first place.

Trudeau has also put forth the Transparency Act in Parliament which proposes keeping the public informed about how their money is spent. How? By providing the public access to the dealings of the Board of Internal Economy in the House of Commons; this board decides how money is spent. Trudeau also suggests he’d like to amend the Access to Information Act to require government information to be open to the public by default. This legislation would also allow the Information Commissioner to order the release of information to the public. Furthermore it would limit the cost of an access to information request; if the information is not provided within the specified time, then the government should provide a refund. Trudeau wants the Access to Information Act to be reviewed by all parties and consistently reviewed every five years to ensure it is up to date.

Trudeau has also suggested that he would support abortion until point of birth. Many Canadians are discontent with this proposal as they believe it is a violation of the Charter to prevent a fetus from coming into this world.

Canada Post was asked to distribute flyers of a graphic picture of an aborted fetus accompanied with a picture of Trudeau stating a vote for Trudeau was a vote for abortion. Some Canada Post employees have since refused delivering the flyers and are now suspended. You might be surprised to learn that Canada Post does not have a right to determine what materials are distributed.

These developments are merely the tip of the iceberg but provide a little more insight into what the legal implications of voting for a party may look like. Did you like this article? If you want more information about the elections going forward, make sure you like, comment and share! Based on the response, I will write additional pieces on the rest of the parties.

Points of Discussion:

1. Has this post provided some additional insight to the legal implications of voting for a particular candidate?

2. Would you like to read more about the legal implications of voting for each candidate?

100 POSTS!

The Social Paralegal (TSP) has covered numerous legal topics and developments ranging from bylaws to international entities commenting on Canadian laws. This post will provide a brief recap of some of the most interesting pieces with key words for searches (underlined) and links to some of the pieces.

Paralegal Profession

One of my favourite pieces “I’m a Paralegal but I’m Not Rachel Zane” outlines what the paralegal profession entails. Many individuals were shocked to learn the difference between Canadian and American paralegals. Have you read the piece yet? If not here’s a link: http://tinyurl.com/pw4wsnu. In addition to this piece there were multiple pieces regarding the paralegal scope of practice and debunking legal myths. TSP also focused on consumer rights, landlord tenant issues and summary conviction matters.

Collaborations

Another much-loved piece was my collaboration with Child, Youth Worker student Ms. Poonia. Ms. Poonia helped me examine the issue of youth delinquency and where the problem lies. This piece provoked significant discussion and enlightenment among readers: http://tinyurl.com/p25ebog. A second collaboration I enjoyed working on was with a police officer who helped identify issues faced by victims of domestic violence and what they should expect when pursuing a legal action.

Legal Developments

Some controversial pieces include the Bill C-24 Citizenship post, Bill C-51 Anti-terrorist Bill and the “Bare With Us” piece regarding women’s rights. There were also pieces addressing: the new Sex-Ed curriculum, Instagram pictures, Facebook legal complexities and the impact of social media in the legal realm. TSP analyzed the legalities of new phone apps and methods to protect yourself from having your personal information misconstrued via social media. These pieces continue to provoke discussion among readers on Facebook and WordPress.

Personal Favourites

A piece that is very close to my heart is my post “Mental Health: It’s Not What You Think”. Many individuals are impacted by mental health issues and unfairly live with stigmatization. Mental health is far more complex than one may think and this post explains just that from a legal perspective. Make sure you give it a read! http://tinyurl.com/o5sevq6 .

Everyone is familiar with the term “FHRITP” but I put a twist on the term and explored the legalities of misbehaviour in the public eye while working for a well- known firm http://tinyurl.com/kvxny6t .

Finally, although American dramas are exhilarating to watch they often do not reflect the Canadian justice system. The objective of this piece was to counter popular misconceptions of what the Canadian judicial system entails http://tinyurl.com/l4cxfce.

I’d love to hear from you! What were some of your favourite TSP posts? What do you like about TSP? What would you like to see more of on TSP? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Bill C- 24 Citizenship A Right or A Privilege?

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?

Old 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.

New Bill

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.

Consequences

Immigrants

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.

Dual-citizenship holders

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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