As Citizenship Week draws to a close, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) join countless Canadians in celebrating Canada’s commitment to equality and rights protection, the values that define and unite us as a nation.
Reflecting on what it means to be Canadian, CARL and BCCLA are dismayed at recent changes to Canada’s citizenship laws aimed at dismantling key aspects of Canadian citizenship as we know it. Through Bill C-24, Parliament has enacted a new law that makes citizenship harder to get and easier to lose. This new law takes away rights from countless Canadians, creating a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals and naturalized citizens. It divides Canadians into two classes of citizens: first class Canadians who hold no other citizenship, whose citizenship is protected forever; and second class Canadians – dual citizens, who can have their right to live in Canada taken away from them by the federal government.
“This law shatters a core principle of Canadian citizenship – that all Canadians have equal rights”, said Carmen Cheung, Senior Counsel at the BC Civil Liberties Association. “Creating multiple classes of citizenship devalues citizenship for everyone.”
“This law allows certain Canadians to be stripped of their citizenship in arbitrary and unprincipled ways”, added Efrat Arbel, law professor at the University of British Columbia and executive member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. “It seriously undermines the reliable bedrock of Canadian citizenship, and threatens the rights of all Canadians”.
These changes weaken Canadian citizenship. The value of Canadian citizenship does not lie in cruelly depriving some citizens of their most basic rights, or in drawing distinctions that represent new Canadians as objects of suspicion and mistrust. Instead, the value of Canadian citizenship lies in a commitment to rights protection and equality as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
No Canadian deserves fewer rights than any other. Every Canadian citizen should have the same rights and freedoms – no matter where they or their parents or grandparents were born. That’s what it means to be #CanadaProud.
Over 45,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org, jointly launched by CARL and BCCLA, objecting to the federal government’s new citizenship laws. To add your name, click here.
For further information please contact:
Efrat Arbel (CARL): 604.722.6162 | [email protected]
Carmen Cheung (BCCLA): 604.630.9758 | [email protected]