By Naheed Hassan
Mississauga, September 25 (CINEWS): Bill C-24, which was voted into law earlier this year, has resulted in widespread changes in the Citizenship Act. These changes are retroactive, and apply not only to naturalized citizens but also to their children, even if the children are Canadian by birth.
Changes to the Citizenship Act and Why You Should Be Worried (WYSBW)
An immigrant must now declare ‘intent to reside’ in Canada in order to be granted Canadian citizenship.
WYSBW: Once you have declared your intent to reside in Canada, if you take up an international assignment or need to return to your homeland, you can be accused of obtaining your citizenship by misrepresentation and can have your citizenship revoked.
The only accepted criteria for a new Canadian to live and work abroad are if he/she is employed by the Government, either Federal or provincial, or by the Canadian Armed Forces. Alternatively a new Canadian can accompany a spouse employed by these agencies. A new Canadian cannot live and work abroad otherwise.
WYSBW: The Canadian Charter of Rights gives all citizens the complete freedom of movement. This clause directly curtails the freedoms and liberties of all naturalized Canadians(and their children after them) and creates two levels of citizens – those free to travel and live where they wish, and those that cannot travel or live outside Canada without risk.
These second-class citizens will forever be confined within the boundaries of Canada, unable to study, work or live abroad without questions about their commitment to Canada and the threat of revocation of their citizenship.
The Citizenship Act states that acitizenship can be revoked for a person who gave false representation at the time of obtaining citizenship.
WYSBW: This clause, when combined with the new clause introduced by Bill C-24, the declaration of ‘intent to reside in Canada’, a citizen who leaves Canada for whatever reason, can be accused of misrepresentation at the time of obtaining citizenship and can have their citizenship revoked. On the other hand, ‘first-class’ citizens have no such restrictions placed upon them and cannot have their citizenship revoked, even if they spend their entire lives abroad.
A Canadian citizen can now be stripped of citizenship if convicted of criminal activity inside or outside of Canada.
WYSBW: Firstly, most if not all New Canadians condemn any acts of terrorism or criminal activity. However, creating different standards of conduct, and punishment, for New and Old Canadians serves only to divide society.
To avoid violating international law on the reduction of statelessness, the only Canadian citizens who are at risk of having their citizenship stripped are those carrying dual citizenship or those eligible to claim dual citizenship.
WYSBW: This clause deliberately targets new Canadians, creating a two-tiered set of citizens in Canada – ‘old’ Canadians whose citizenship cannot be revoked lest they become stateless and naturalized citizens whose citizenship can be stripped because they hold or can claim citizenship of another country.
Citizenship can be stripped from a citizen who can claim citizenship of another country through birth, parents, marriage or any other association.
WYSBW: A Canadian citizen who has renounced their previous citizenship and can still be stripped of citizenship if the immigration official feels they are eligible to claim citizenship from another country.
Being born in Canada, or being born to a Canadian citizen, does not preclude a person from having their citizenship revoked. A citizen who is eligible for dual nationality through marriage to, or descent from a naturalized citizen can have their nationality revoked.
WYSBW: Bill C-24 has redefined the entire concept of citizenship by removing the right to citizenship based on birth for the children of naturalized citizens. Your children, even if they were born Canadians, can have their citizenship revoked if they can claim eligibility for another nationality through you.
The assessment and enforcement of citizenship revocation has been moved into the hands and discretion of an immigration official – not via judicial inquiry or process.
WYSBW: The entire process of granting and revoking citizenship will be conducted by immigration officials rather than an impartial, qualified, independent judiciary.
A citizen whose citizenship has been revoked has no recourse to a judicial hearing. In some cases of serious crime, the Minister may call for a hearing.
WYSBW: Bill C-24 does away with the process of a court of appeal and hearing for citizens whose citizenship has been revoked.
Bill C-24 is retroactive.
WYSBW: This means that even if your citizenship was granted years ago, the provisions of this law apply to you.