How C-24 Misses the Mark // C-24號法案改革不及格
June 9th, 2014 - 9:49am
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
(聯邦新民主黨國會議員唐耐勵 Fin Donnelly)