Enforcing responsibility within citizenships
Author: Jae Won Hur
Bill C-24’s recent installation has caused great debate and controversy. The new provisions enable the government to revoke a dual-citizen’s citizenship, in some cases, without judicial process, lengthens residency requirements for new Canadians to be eligible for citizenship, broadens the age for citizenship eligibility and gives the government the right to refuse citizenship to anyone who has domestic and foreign criminal charges.
My issue with this bill lays on two separate fronts – the public’s perception and the holes within the bill itself. As a dual-citizen from South Korea, I support this bill, albeit with grave hesitation. First, I don’t share in the sentiment that this bill divides Canadian citizenship into tiers of “first rate and second rate”. The new legislation only enables revocation of citizenship from a dual-citizen if one is convicted of terrorism, treason, espionage, spying offences or crimes against Canada. One must commit an extraordinary crime against the dominion for revocation to be considered, which mitigates the argument of governmental belligerence due to the sheer atrocious nature of the crimes. As well, the only reason why Canadians with only a Canadian citizenship cannot be revoked of their citizenship is because of UN’s 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which prohibits a person to be stateless. When one couples the atrocious nature of crimes that warrant revocation and the international legislative frameworks that prohibits statelessness, claims of this bill intending to divide citizenship into two tiers is diffused. However, many aspects of this bill are concerning. The elimination of judicial process in some cases of revocation is alarming. Immigration Canada states a “routine case” will enable a Citizenship and Immigration Canada Minister to revoke a citizenship without due process while a “complex case” will result in Federal Court trying the convicted. The rationale for this system is efficiency, as elimination of judicial process will speed up revocation saving money and time. This narrative is concerning for two reasons. For one, the elimination of the courts in this matter undermines our democratic integrity as a nation as the court should serve as our democratic cornerstone for crucial decisions such as revocation of citizenship, even at the expense of time and money. Accordingly, it is alarming that the bill will rely on nuances such as “routine and complex” to determine the process of someone’s revocation of citizenship.
Many would deem this bill as unconstitutional, as they perceive citizenship as a fundamental right. Even with its imperfections, I’d like to reiterate that I support this bill. The government likes to use this catch phrase: “a citizenship is not a right, it’s a privilege.” However, I believe citizenship should be based upon responsibility, meaning that we should embrace its benefits and pride uniting us as Canadians. On the same token, if one decides to threaten the well-being of Canada, they have undermined their responsibilities as a Canadian citizen and have forfeited their status as a citizen. It isn’t unreasonable that if one taints Canada with crimes against our nation – that with careful and credible due process – that the culprit be revoked of their responsibilities and status as a Canadian citizen.