If the government can't use a private member's bill to create a new law, the terrorists win - Macleans.ca

If the government can’t use a private member’s bill to create a new law, the terrorists win

Much ado about amending a private member’s bill


The citizenship and immigration committee is presently tied up with an NDP filibuster of C-425.

The bill, in its original form, was tabled by Conservative MP Devinder Shory to “reduce by one year the required years of residence in Canada to grant citizenship to any permanent resident who is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has signed a minimum three-year contract and who has completed basic training”  and “to provide that an individual is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship or is deemed to have withdrawn their application for Canadian citizenship, if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Then Jason Kenney decided that he wanted to make a law that would strip Canadian citizenship from any dual national who was convicted of committing an act of terrorism and that the best way to do this would be to amend C-425 to include that provision.

At that point, the opposition objected—Bob Rae rising in the House to raise a question of privilege that ultimately necessitated a ruling from the Speaker. Here is how NDP Jinny Sims explained her concerns yesterday.

With respect to this bill, Mr. Shory’s bill, C-425, I as the critic was the first one up to speak to this bill and we supported this bill. We supported it in principle and we were prepared to go to committee and take amendments there and to work with Mr. Shory’s bill as a private member’s bill. However, we were so surprised when the bill appeared at committee brought with it amendments from the minister that so fundamentally changed the scope of the bill that the bill was no longer recognizable and we’re not supportive of the minister gutting the entire content of a private member’s bill and replacing it with his own legislation. He already has ways, the government has ways of bringing forward their own legislation.

The amendments or the replacement I should say that Mr. Kenney brought to committee were ruled out of order by the chair, a Conservative chair I’ll have you know, because based on the legal advice that the chair gets on the amendments, the amendments were outside of the scope of the private member’s bill and that’s the crux of the matter here… When you have government legislation, it has different processes. It requires parliamentary debate, a private member’s bill when it comes back into the House is limited to two hours debate, two hours debate of fundamental changes that are proposed in this bill and that is unacceptable and those have been ruled out of order. So therefore, as an opposition, we’re in committee using one of the few tools we have left to prevent this government from trying to subvert the system and try to change what it means to be a Canadian citizen and all that it implies through a private member’s bill.

There are, as well, questions about the substance of Mr. Kenney’s proposal.

In a news release yesterday, Mr. Shory said New Democrats were “defending the interests of terrorists rather than protecting law abiding Canadians and putting national security first” and in a letter sent to Conservative supporters in Mr. Shory’s name, it was said that New Democrats were “standing up for the interests of convicted terrorists” and “defending convicted terrorists.” (And in a statement before Question Period, Conservative MP Ted Opitz said New Democrats were, in filibustering the bill, “potentially placing CF members at risk.”)

All of which is maybe much ado about not much. Three months ago, Jason Kenney talked to the Toronto Star about the practicalities of what he was proposing.

Q: Have you sought consultation from CSIS or the RCMP? Talking strictly about money, I’d anticipate there would be costly constitutional legal challenges and I think some in the intelligence field would argue that while a Canadian passport is of high value to terrorist organizations, money defending those legal cases would be better spent on counterterrorism efforts.

A: The Minister of Public Safety … obviously participates in cabinet deliberations on proposed amendments and I know Mr. (Vic) Toews strongly supports the proposed amendments … I think the value of this proposal is largely symbolic, educational. It sends a message that Canadian citizenship actually has some objective meaning … that it’s not some kind of tool to be exploited (by disloyal radicals). I think the number of cases to which it would be applicable would be minuscule, so I think the costs that you’re talking about are greatly exaggerated.


If the government can’t use a private member’s bill to create a new law, the terrorists win

  1. One gets the sense that Kenney would like the power to strip anyone sufficiently “disloyal” and “radical” of citizenship, born in Canada or not.

  2. bin Laden won long time ago.

    • Bin Laden’s dead. That’s a helluva way to celebrate “winning”.

      • You saw the body didja?

        In Vietnam, the US won all the battles…..but the Vietcong won the war.

  3. I imagine dealing with these unwanted applications would be very annoying. The best, least costly result is that it never actually gets officially “filed” and the presumed application never really exists and just lies dormant forever.

    So at the very best, this bill is useless. And when an MP puts a bill forward whose best feature is that “if we’re lucky, it’s useless”, he’s a pretty terrible MP.

    • That’s what I keep hoping about the Conservative Government: “If we’re lucky it will be useless.”

  4. Attaching the measure to a private member’s bill was a way to avoid the delays associated with introducing it as a new government bill. And perhaps also to avoid the government needing to trim its legislative program for the year to make room for this additional measure which events necessitated. If the NDP was really serious about terrorism, it would cut the government slack here to get such measures enacted quickly.

    • but there was no need to make this stupidity into law faster, and more attention could show just how stupid it is.

      • So you’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the terrorists, eh? For shame. FOR SHAME!

        • And they might be child pornographers for all we know

    • Yeah and if the NDP was serious about transparency in expenses, they would have supported Trudeau’s motion instead of getting Cullen to play games. Cullen was the guy who wanted cooperation. So why isn’t he willing to cooperate on this one?

      • All politicians want compromise…. from the other side. Has been that way for centuries. It’s just as meaningless when Trudeau says it.

  5. “defending the interests of terrorists rather than protecting law abiding Canadians and putting national security first”

    What I don’t understand – are Conservative supporters so gullible and isolated that they actually believe stuff like this? Or do talking points like this make them feel like party/tribe insiders?

    How could anybody vote for an MP who would say something so stupid?

    • Most of the ones I’ve met really seem to believe this stuff….they live in a very different world…binary, 2D, black and white…etc

    • Can you explain to me how the NDP aren’t defending terrorists by not supporting this amendment? It’s pretty clear that the NDP don’t want terrorists kicked out of Canada. How is that not supporting terrorists?

      • Hahaha Oh Rick!

        Are you suggesting it’s best that the government uses a private members’ bill to introduce changes affecting Canadian citizenship? The lack of transparency in such a process is a good choice? Aside from that, what would be the process for determining when to strip someone of citizenship? What terms will be used to define a terrorist for this purpose? What terms will be used to define “an act of war against the Canadian Forces?” Could this extend to a dual-citizen who finds a security flaw in DND systems and brings it to the attention of the government?

        So many questions, so little time to debate in a private members’ bill. But clearly, the NDP wants terrorists to become and remain Canadian. Is that it?

        What a joke.

      • So the Conservatives have been supporting terrorists for 9 years.
        Good to know.

      • Just in time, Rick Omen pops up to illustrate the kind of rube I’m trying to figure out.

        Hey Rick – did you even read the piece? Bob Rae described the issue succinctly: “based on the legal advice that the chair gets on the amendments, the amendments were outside of the scope of the private member’s bill and that’s the crux of the matter here…”

        So – are you stupid and gullible, or so in the tank for the Conservatives that you’ll parrot any talking point? Or both, I suppose…

  6. If the CPC has a coat of arms, it’s motto should read: “We’re pretty sure we’re smarter than democracy”.

    How do you say that in Latin?

    • Sumus certo sumus intelligentes prae democratia

      or, since the Greeks invented democracy . . .

      Είμαστε αρκετά βέβαιοι ότι είμαστε πιο έξυπνοι από ό, τι η δημοκρατία

      • gratias agimus tibi :)

  7. “In a news release yesterday, Mr. Shory said New Democrats were “defending the interests of terrorists rather than protecting law abiding Canadians and putting national security first….”
    With this news release, I do believe we have entered a phase where the present government’s populist efforts are transitioning to fascism. This is so wrong headed, and wrong hearted, that for the first time I am beginning to become concerned that the laughable is becoming (the banality of) evil. It is impossible that they even attempt to change the terms of citizenship this way. Very scary stuff indeed.

  8. Jason Kenney using Vic Toews as proof positive back up ……that not some kind of tool to be exploited Kenney.

    Laugh out loud that made my week.

  9. Oh so it only applies to dual-citizens eh? How brave of Jason Kenney to propose the bill in a way so that it specifically does not apply to himself. Given the fact that Kenney is the #1 politician palling around with terrorists (from the Kahane Chai/Kach and MEK) it is a very interesting decision.