Chris Alexander defies a Tory legend

John Diefenbaker may disapprove of citizenship reform

Adrian Wyld/CP Photo

Adrian Wyld/CP Photo

“It is wrong to use citizenship rules to punish people for wrongdoing. That’s the role of the criminal system.” —Loly Rico, president of the Canadian Council for Refugees

This is a big week for first-time reformers. Pierre Poilievre, the Democratic Reform Minister, kicked things off with his bold attempt to reshape Canadian elections. Yesterday, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander went arguably even bigger, proposing comprehensive changes to Canada’s citizenship rules for the first time since 1977. He wants permanent residents to live in Canada longer before they’re eligible for citizenship. He wants to crack down on fraud. And he wants to revoke citizenship from convicted terrorists.

“Canadians understand that citizenship should not be simply a passport of convenience,” said Alexander, whose proposals also include more stringent language requirements for applicants and tough prison sentences for fraudsters. There’s nothing subtle about the bill.

There’s plenty to criticize, and the opposition will no doubt launch a full-scale attack on not one, but several elements of the bill. They may spread their worries over several days, to maximum effect. But the criticism from all sides is best characterized by Lorne Waldman, the president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. Waldman told the Toronto Star that political masters should keep their hands off citizenship. “As Canadians, we make our citizenship feeble and fragile if we let government ministers seize the power to extinguish it,” he said.

The Globe and Mail‘s editorialists supported many of Alexander’s proposals—namely, the extended period in which residents will have to live in Canada, and the stronger language requirements. But the Globe joined Waldman and others who opposed the notion that the minister should be able to revoke the citizenship of criminals. “Loss of citizenship, except in cases of citizenship fraudulently obtained, should not be on the menu of possible punishments, even for the gravest crimes,” wrote the Globe.

Terrorism is, for sure, among the gravest crimes. But the Globe, to prove its point, recalled a little bit of history that Alexander may appreciate. After a Communist spy had his Canadian citizenship revoked, former prime minister John Diefenbaker amended the rules so that even those who commit treason remain Canadian citizens.

This government’s many odes to Diefenbaker’s vision extend all the way to the farthest regions of the Arctic. They apparently stop at the definition of who’s properly Canadian. That’s a wedge the opposition could dangle in front of the Tory benches.


Globe: The federal government moved to toughen citizenship requirements.

Post: Citizenship applications will cost more, and residency requirements will be lengthened.

Star: The new rules will also crack down on citizenship fraud.

Citizen: The feds expect to pay $1.4 billion in salary to public servants who took sick days.

CBC: The Sochi Olympics opening ceremony starts this morning.

CTV: tAtu, a Russian duo,will perform at the opening ceremony.

NNW: Phillip Nolan, the drummer in Stephen Harper’s band, was charged with sexual assaults.


Near: Alberta plans to cull its wild horse population by about 200 animals.

Far: A protest that opposed a 10-cent transit fare hike in Rio de Janeiro turned violent.

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Chris Alexander defies a Tory legend

  1. Nobody has the guts to get rid of dual citizenship.

    • No point. Global citizenship is already here.

      • Yes. If artificial people -corporations- crow global citizenship, why can’t real people?

        • “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.”

          • Seems to be attributed to Thomas Paine

            In stating these matters, I speak an open and disinterested language, dictated by no passion but that of humanity. To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful. Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

            Hey, isn’t he one of those founding father dudes?

          • He also wrote The Age of Reason.

      • There is no such thing as global citizenship. Your globalist pronouncements are very much like the mindless natterings of that group of UN flunkies who back in the mid-1990s were promoting the concept of “transnational progressivisism”. There are good reasons why we don’t hear from of them anymore. You should try to avoid promoting fads that are 20 years out of date.

          • Explaining something is not proof of existence, no…..however, global citizenship already exists, and doesn’t require your fairy tales.

          • Can you post a photo of your Global Citizenship card, or some proof of membership?

          • You posting from yer hospital bed? You sound kinda week

          • How do I sound week (sic)? But I’ll take that to mean you can’t provide any evidence. Because it’s not an actual thing.

          • LOL I thought you’d recognize a ‘hybrid word’ Rick.

            Yeah, it’s an actual thing. Unlike your shark-jumping.

    • The whine of the last gasp of Nationalism.

    • Interestingly, there’s at least one Tory cabinet minister with dual citizenship.

  2. I don’t know how the media and taxpayers can give a corrupt government credibility after all the corruption that took place in the PMO and senate. So know where supposed to forgive and forget, by watching this bunch of goons change laws to suit there interests. Wake Canadians and smell the roses.

    • Judges never were in the picture until the Singh decision in 1985 forced the creation of a bunch of tribunals – not to mention an endless appeals process – to replace the jobs that immigration officials used to do.

      • The world has become a good deal more complicated since the 80s. Kicking things down the food chain [ and level of competence] is bound to create more friction and injustice.

      • Fundamental justice requires a hearing and an opportunity to file an appeal from that hearing, all subject to procedural fairness. That’s part of the strength of our common law stretching back for longer than there’s been a Canada, and it’s to our great credit (though forced through the constitution) to extend it to those who, often facing death or torture if a board makes the wrong decision, seek a new existence on our shores.

  3. I think this gov’t would prefer to govern by fiat.

    • Well, we know Justin Trudeau loves his dictatorships (at least the Chinese variety)!

      • And another shark…..

      • Rick
        You do realise that the rebound after the nastiness and intolerance that this current right wing mindset is disposed of will use the standards that you and the Cons have set, but directed against the likes of you; don’t you?
        You and Harper have empowered government to such a degree that the response of a non-right wing, social conservative government equipped with the powers you have given government will be horrific.
        I am a moderate, you and those who come after you will not be and this country will be all the worse for it.
        Before you endorse an action you should first see the consequences should it become a universal law. You like your heroes are stupid beyond belief in giving the next set of “leaders” this precedent you now rejoice in.

        I take no pleasure in saying this, but it is you and your likes who are handing over any semblance of democracy and fairness to totalitarians in the name of expediency. You should grow up, it isn’t a hockey match.

    • It’s what Dear Leader does best.

  4. The new citizenship act gives Harper the unilateral power to strip Canadians of their citizenship outside the law. It also gives Harper the power to secretly grant citizenship to foreigners outside the law.

    I sincerely hope this bill is challenged in the Supreme Court since clearly we have a rogue government.