OTTAWA – The Liberal government is devaluing Canadian citizenship with reckless changes to the Citizenship Act that, among other things, prevent Canada from revoking the citizenship of convicted terrorists, Senator Bob Runciman said in a speech in the Senate chamber today.
Runciman said he disagrees with many elements of Bill C-6, including weakening requirements for knowledge of the country and at least one of its official languages, along with reducing the residency requirements, but he saved his strongest criticism for a section that removes the Canadian government’s right to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens who commit terrorism.
“This will put Canadian law at odds with virtually all our major allies,” Runciman said. “This is an ill-conceived change that I do not believe Canadians support.”
He said it is inconceivable Canada can strip the citizenship of someone for lying on his citizenship application, but not of someone “willing to commit the most heinous acts of violence with the objective of destabilizing our nation.”
It is absurd to argue that “fraud is a more serious matter than plotting to cut off the prime minister’s head,” Runciman said, noting that was part of the plan of the Toronto 18. The previous Conservative government was in the process of revoking the citizenship of some convicted members of that terrorist cell.
Runciman was arguing in favour of an amendment proposed by Yukon Senator Daniel Lang, which would restore the ability to revoke citizenship for convicted terrorists who are dual citizens. Under Lang’s amendment, the determination on citizenship revocation would be made by the sentencing judge, those stripped of citizenship would have the right to appeal, and the provision could not be used against anyone already tried and convicted.
“When they became Canadian citizens, they pledged, under oath, that they will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill their duties as Canadian citizens. When they commit terrorism against this country, they have essentially renounced that oath, renounced their commitment to Canada and it is our right as a nation, indeed our responsibility, to renounce our commitment to them,” Runciman said.