Cannan: Legislation strengthens Canadian citizenship

Bill C-24 denies dual citizenship to anyone engaged in armed conflict with Canada, terrorism, high treason or spying offences.

A few constituents have written to me concerned by misinformation that dual citizens in Canada are under attack because of legislation that was passed by Parliament to strengthen the integrity of Canadian citizenship.

I want to assure constituents it is not the case.

In an effort to underscore our government’s commitment to protecting the safety and security of Canadians and reinforce the value of Canadian citizenship, Bill C-24 enabled the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens and deny it to permanent residents (PRs) when they are members in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, or are convicted of terrorism, high treason, and treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence.

There have been numerous attempts to amend the Citizenship Act since 1977 without success, yet our government has succeeded in making some significant changes: We enacted legislation to provide that children adopted overseas could acquire Canadian citizenship by grant rather than going through the naturalization process; and granted Canadian citizenship to groups of people known as “lost Canadians.”

Through C-24 we have also streamlined Canada’s citizenship program to reduce processing times; aligned citizenship application fees with the actual cost, relieving the burden on Canadian taxpayers who currently subsidize 80 percent of the cost; require a physical presence in Canada to qualify for citizenship, as well as language requirements and a knowledge test to ensure that new citizens are better prepared to fully participate in Canadian society; and established stronger penalties for fraud and misrepresentation.

Canadians who embrace their citizenship and have strong ties to Canada, including those who hold dual citizenship, fully expect the government to uphold the integrity of citizenship.

I attend several citizenship ceremonies a year and get to witness that special moment when new Canadians take the citizenship oath.  So many who have chosen to come to Canada from other countries or have parents and grandparents who did the same, have done so in order to live in a country that is tolerant and peaceful, to have the opportunity to provide for their families, and contribute to building what is surely one of the best countries in which to live.

Part of being Canadian is to respect the contribution that immigration has made to this great country and it is why we continue to support a very generous immigration system; more than 85 per cent of eligible permanent residents in Canada go on to become citizens.

As fellow citizens we share an expectation of each other to take part in our democratic way of life, our economic potential, and our rich cultural traditions.  As our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the honourable Chris Alexander has reiterated, citizenship is a pledge of mutual responsibility and a shared commitment to the values rooted in our history.

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