Bill C-24 and Me

A couple of weeks ago–if memory serves me correctly–I received an email from a petition web site, asking for my signature on a petition against Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, sponsored by the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and MP for Ajax-Pickering, Chris Alexander.

As far as I can tell, from reading at least one version of the bill itself and the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) response to it, Bill C-24, if passed, would, among other things, lengthen eligibility to apply for Canadian citizenship from three to four years, and would strip multiple citizens of their Canadian citizenship if they are convicted of crimes, for engaging in activities ‘contrary to Canadian interests’ (without explaining, or going into any great detail about, what said activities might be), or for any other reason the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration might feel is worthy of loss of citizenship.

There’s more, but I want to focus on the consequences Bill C-24 might have on dual and multiple citizens, because those consequences apply to me.

The week I spent in New York City confirmed my desire to one day make a home there; but I don’t want to give up my Canadian citizenship, or my home base in Vancouver. (I know the United States government doesn’t encourage multiple citizenship on principle, mostly because of the complications it poses, but that government doesn’t necessarily discourage it, either. But I digress.) In any case, I’m wondering what complications Bill C-24 might pose on my plans to divide my time between Vancouver and New York City, even though I do stay on the right side of the law, Canadian and American. The way the bill is worded now, if I go through with my plans, I’ll be walking on eggshells for the rest of my natural life–as will every other multiple citizen who claims Canadian citizenship.

As for the claim that, without Bill C-24, Canadian citizens will have less of an attachment to Canada, my response is that’s the biggest line of baloney I’ve heard yet. First of all, you can’t legislate attachment to one piece of land. Secondly, even the desire to have citizenship elsewhere doesn’t lessen one’s attachment to one’s nation of birth or other home bases (I’m speaking from personal experience here). As far as I’m concerned, this is just fear-mongering.

Even if there was a purpose for Bill C-24–and, personally, I don’t see it–there are still some wrinkles by way of its wording that need to be ironed out before it can continue on its way to being made law. Some areas need clarification, and law-abiding multiple citizens–and aspiring multiple citizens like myself–need reassurance that we’re not going to be punished simply for calling more than one area of Planet Earth home.