How C-24 Misses the Mark // C-24號法案改革不及格

Controversial overhaul of Canadian citizenship laws fails to address backlogs and processing times

This Parliamentary session, the federal Conservative government introduced sweeping changes to immigration (Bill C-24) pledging the first set of comprehensive reforms to Canadian citizenship laws since 1977.

The reforms do include a number of long-awaited positive aspects, like stricter penalties for citizenship fraud and fraudulent immigration consultants, clarifying residence requirements prior to citizenship, and extending citizenship to additional “Lost Canadians” who were born before 1947 as well as to their children born in the first generation outside Canada.

But C-24 misses the mark in a number of deeply concerning ways. First, it gives the immigration minister new powers to grant and revoke citizenship. This is a radical departure from Canada’s existing immigration laws, where the court of law has the final say on these critical matters – not a politician.

C-24 also grants the immigration minister the power to revoke citizenship of dual Canadians where there is a suspicion of fraud or if they are found guilty of a crime.

Canada's NDP strongly opposes this proposal to concentrate more power in the hands of the minister. Many believe C-24 is leading Canada toward establishing two tiers of Canadian citizenship, where some Canadians could have their citizenship revoked while others would be punished by the criminal system for the same offense. Furthermore, C-24’s controversial new measures may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I have also heard concerns about these new provisions requiring a person to sign a declaration of intent to reside in Canada, as well as no longer allowing time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident in the calculation of mandatory residency time in a citizenship application.

I believe C-24 was a missed opportunity to bring real improvements to our citizenship laws. My office helps constituents on a daily basis who are frustrated by lengthy processing times and endless backlogs.

Instead of addressing the real problems in our immigration system, the Conservative government’s record includes imposing a moratorium on parent and grandparent sponsorships, reducing family reunification, and punishing vulnerable refugees. They also have a track record of publicly denouncing those who disagree with them – from the Chief Justice to scientists and international NGOs. Do we really want to grant them the power to decide who should and should not be granted Canadian citizenship?

To truly strengthen Canada’s citizenship laws, we must ensure the rule of law remains central to the citizenship process. Allowing the suspicions of the immigration minister and his staff to trump the rule of law is a disservice to all Canadians.

Canadians deserve better. An NDP government would do better!

By Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament
Published in the World Journal, June 2014

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聯邦保守黨政府在本國會議期推出C-24號法案,宣稱是自1977年以來首度全面改革加拿大公民法的一項綜合性立法。

這項改革確實包含一些長久以來令人期盼的一些正面角度,譬如加重懲罰公民入籍詐騙和違規的移民顧問,明確規定入籍前的居留要求,以及放寬和允許1947年以前出生的失聯加人和他們在海外出生的子女申請入籍。

但是C-24法案在許多地方未能令人滿意,首先,C-24法案授予移民部長核可及取消公民權的新權柄。這是與加拿大現行移民法規背道而馳的巨大改變,過去這項重要的事權是由法院執行終審,而非讓政治任命人物來作最後決定。

加拿大新民主黨強烈反對這項部長集權的提案。很多國人認為C-24法案將使得加拿大變成一個二等公民制,可能讓部分加拿大國民喪失他們的國籍,另外還有人或因觸犯刑法,確連帶蒙遭取消公民權。具爭議性的C-24法案更可能已牴觸加拿大人權暨自由憲章。

我也聽到一些人反映的關注聲音,指出新法案擬要求申請者具結聲明居住加拿大的意向,同時也不再把以非永久居民身分在加滯留的時間,納入申請入籍的居住時間來計算。

我認為C-24法案失去一次真正能改進我們公民入籍法規的立法機會。我的選區辦事處幾乎每天都在協助一些對審核時間冗長和積案如山感到失望的選民,為他們解疑和努力提供援助。

保守黨政府不僅未解決移民制度的真正問題,反而暫停父母和祖父母擔保依親移民,減少家庭團聚移民名額,及懲罰弱勢的難民。

保守黨政府更有一系列不良紀錄,包括公開批評那些有不同意見的人士,從聯邦大法官到許多學界科學家和一些國際的非政府組織,都曾遭點名批評。我們如何能讓保守黨擁有權力來決定核可加拿大人的公民身分呢?

想要真正地改進加拿大的公民入籍法律,我們必須確保入籍申請程序仍以法治為依歸。准許移民部長和他的幕僚基於懷疑立場,就能超越法治為所欲為,這對所有加拿大國民將造成不利的結果。

加拿大人有權利要求政府作得更好,聯邦新民主黨能為大家服務得更好。

(聯邦新民主黨國會議員唐耐勵 Fin Donnelly)