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Petition opposes federal citizenship changes 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director Josh Paterson presented a 26,000-signature petition at the Citizenship and Immigration offices in Vancouver Tuesday. 
Michael Mui, 24 hours

B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director Josh Paterson presented a 26,000-signature petition at the Citizenship and Immigration offices in Vancouver Tuesday. Michael Mui, 24 hours

Proposed changes that would allow Ottawa to revoke the citizenship of those with dual nationalities is being opposed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which presented a 26,000-signature petition on Tuesday to the federal ministry in charge of immigration matters.

BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson called the proposed Bill C-24 a “serious threat to the rights of all Canadians.”

Under the proposed changes, citizens convicted of terrorism — regardless of where the offence and conviction occurred — would be subject to having their citizenship removed.

Other Canadian offences, such as treason or offences against the National Defence Act, also apply if the person is convicted.

And under the proposed changes, government would only be required to have a court hearing for the revocation if the minister in charge so chooses.

The changes would only apply to those with citizenship in another country since Canada is a signatory to an international human rights clause that doesn’t allow the government to “render a person stateless.”

Under existing law, according to Paterson, only a person who fraudulently obtained citizenship could have their status revoked.

“Now the government is making Canadian citizenship less secure,” he said.

“There are going to be two classes of citizens. First-class citizens who hold no other citizenship and whose citizenship is protected forever. No matter what.

“And second-class citizens, dual citizens, who can have their right to live in Canada taken away from them by the federal government if they are convicted of serious crimes.”

He said other changes would make immigration more difficult for refugees, students and temporary workers.

In a statement Wednesday, Citizenship and Immigration press secretary Alexis Pavlich said the changes would reduce backlogs by 80%.

"Our government's long-overdue and common-sense reforms to the Citizenship Act will ensure that applicants who meet the criteria and have a genuine desire to join the Canadian family obtain citizenship more quickly," he said.

"Our government will continue to work hard to pass Bill C-24 as soon as possible so that the integrity of our citizenship system remains protected."

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