AT RANDOM: Life as a second-class Canadian citizen

My Canadian citizenship is second tier despite the fact I was born in this country to a naturalized Canadian citizen.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.

According to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, my Canadian citizenship is second tier despite the fact I was born in this country to a naturalized Canadian citizen, have never even contemplated dual citizenship and have lived in Canada for 42 of my 52 years of life. (As a kid I lived overseas for 10 years, returning when I was 18 years old.)

Since I was eight, I have had a Canadian passport.

But the association maintains that under a new federal law that the government of Canada could strip me of my Canadian citizenship if I was convicted of a serious crime, like terrorism — either here in Canada or abroad — or if I live outside the country for an extended period.

Under international law, a country cannot strip its citizens of their citizenship if they have no other country to claim them. But for me, like thousands of other Canadians who are eligible—but have not acted on—dual citizenship, the government says we have somewhere else to go.

The revelation came as a shock.

And frankly, after reading local MP Ron Cannan’s response to questions he says he has fielded about the issue, I don’t feel any better.

That’s because while Cannan addressed the issue of stripping naturalized Canadians of their citizenship in a recent column that appears on the Kelowna Capital News website he didn’t talk about those who are merely eligible for dual citizenship.

Now, while it’s not likely I am about to become an international terrorist — I wouldn’t know an AK-47 (gun) from a B-52’s record — some may say  “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

But, and there’s always a but, it’s the premise that citizenship can be taken away, not just from someone who came here from elsewhere and chose Canada over his or her former country, but from someone who actually is a Canadian born and bred, that bothers me.

We have a justice system to deal with criminals and we see Canadians pass through it every day of the week. Is that not adequate? And if not, shouldn’t we be fixing it? As for living abroad, Canadians live in other countries for a number of legitimate reasons.

According to opponents of the new federal law,  Canadians who are not eligible for dual citizenship cannot be stripped of their Canadian citizenship. They, say the opponents, fall into a higher tier of citizenship.

Of course, there are many in this country who are unaware that they are eligible for dual citizenship. So it may be a shock to them as well.

I think I understand what the federal Conservative government was trying to do with the law but it appears to have included far-reaching powers that may, or not, have been intended.

Citizenship is the overriding right of people born in a country. It grants them other rights and demands responsibilities.

I am Canadian. I have always considered myself Canadian, even as a kid living in Ireland.  And I’ll be damned if some right-leaning group of lawmakers in Ottawa will take that away from me because they are hell-bent on winning a few votes in the upcoming election by trying to look tough on crime.

The law will likely be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada and will likely be struck down as unconstitutional. But the fact it was introduced in the first place says a lot about the people who crafted it.

And none of that is good.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Kelowna Capital News.


Just Posted

This parking on the east side of Martin Street will be removed permanently Monday morning (June 21, 2021) to put in the Lake to Lake bike lane. (City of Penticton)
Parking removed permanently to make way for bike lane in downtown Penticton

Work begins Monday morning to replace parking spots with bike lane on Martin Street

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

Gord Portman getting ready for the Father’s Day dunk tank fundraiser for Discovery House. So far Portman has raised $3,000. (Facebook)
Penticton man takes the plunge for recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

Summerland cidery Millionaires' Row is hosting a Father's Day car and art show. (Facebook)
Vintage cars, art and cider for Father’s Day

Summerland’s Millionaires’ Row Cider Co. is hosting the car and art show

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read