If I told you that the current federal government passed a law allowing it to strip people who weren’t born in Canada of their Canadian citizenship without a judge or trial, what would you say?
That I’m crazy?
What if I said that this law also applies to Canadian-born citizens who hold another passport, or are simply eligible for citizenship elsewhere?
Let’s take this insanity one step further. Let’s say that the ruling government that passed this law, has people in their own party who could be negatively affected by it.
Don’t believe me? This insane situation exists in our country today. When the current government approved Bill C-24, they automatically undermined the rights of millions of their own citizens.
They say it’s because they want to fight terrorism, and only convicted terrorists could have their citizenship revoked. But look a little beyond that scary word that is used to instil fear and induce complacency on this issue. What if the definition changes? What if someone is wrongly convicted?
Canadians who were born here and have no other citizenship are to be treated differently under this law. It creates a hierarchy of Canadian citizenships, and it’s not okay.
I’m not surprised, given the track record of the current government. What surprises me is that there are people in the Conservative Party who are either children of immigrants, or immigrants themselves: the very people this law is targeting. I’m disturbed and also confused.
Why do we as a society support people who don’t have our back?
I remember in 6th grade my English teacher did an “experiment” with my class. She grouped people together and gave each table a scenario: on the paper we were told that some of our friends had now become the enemy. Overnight we had to cut off ties with these friends. We were told that if we didn’t do this we would be jailed, threatened, and that our property would most likely be seized.
So what were we going to do? Many of the groups chose to go down the route of doing what they were told. “Why inflict burden on ourselves,” they thought? Just one group said no. They said they would defy the threats, were prepared to be jailed, and didn’t care what the public thought of them; that there was no way they could do this to their friends.
My English teacher told our class that sometimes it’s important to stand up out of principle, and not allow injustice to continue. However, what this exercise revealed was that it’s a whole lot easier to take the path of least resistance.
To bring this full circle, the easiest thing here would be to do nothing and say nothing about laws like Bill C-24. After all, what reasonable person wants to support terrorism? It takes more effort to look beyond the rhetoric and realize that this is about standing up for equality, and making sure all our Canadian citizenships are worth the same.
There are plenty of moments in our lives where we are faced with an opportunity to do better – to be better.
Election time is one of those opportunities. Not only do we need to ask ourselves "are we better off than we were 10 years ago," but we need to also look around, take stock of our communities, of our neighbours, and ask ourselves whether the political party we support truly has our back – all of our backs.