Several weeks ago we used this space to express concern over elements of the direction the federal government is taking on the world stage. We titled the editorial "Mr. Trudeau, the honeymoon on foreign policy is over." The past week should give every Canadian reason for the same concern over Ottawa's proclamations on changes to our immigration and citizenship policies.
Immigration and Citizenship Minister John McCallum weighed in on two subjects. The citizenship of terrorists and the official characterization of acts such as honour killings and female genital mutilation.
On the first issue, Mr.McCallum tabled a bill that would reverse the Harper administration's legislation that gave the government the power to strip a convicted terrorist who held dual citizenship of his Canadian citizenship. McCallum said this new Liberal legislation was "a matter of principle" and that "a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian." Really?
One wonders exactly what principle is involved in protecting the Canadian citizenship of a convicted terrorist who maintains citizenship in another country as well. Canada has deported alleged war criminals who held only Canadian citizenship back to their home countries for trial. Particularly those accused of crimes against humanity under the Nazis. And some of those deported were quite on in years. So what makes convicted terrorists so special?
The new law would immediately restore the citizenship of the head of the Toronto gang of 18 who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts including his stated intention to assassinate then Prime Minister Harper. McCallum paraphrased art critic and collector Gertrude Stein who once said, "A rose, is a rose is a rose," by saying, "A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian." Well Mr. McCallum, you are dead wrong. Ms. Stein was talking about beauty in nature. You are showing leniency to people of abhorrent and ugly nature. And you are flying in the face of established Canadian legal precedent exercised even by Liberal governments of the past. Citizenship is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. What possible purpose or just cause does your government's position serve?
On the second issue, Mr.McCallum let it be known that his government is revising the Canadian citizenship guide that all new immigrants must study in order to pass their citizenship tests. And exactly what is being revised? The characterization of honour killings and female genital mutilation as "barbaric." He also feels that the guide is too "heavy" with subject matter on what practices are contrary to Canadian values, and that section is to be scaled down.
Readers may remember that when Mr. Trudeau was in opposition, he vociferously objected to the use of the word "barbaric" to describe those practices. He castigated then Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney who introduced the new guide as being "insensitive to minorities." I am not aware that members of minority groups, other than criminals, would defend murdering or maiming their own children. If these practices are not barbaric, what in God's name is?
These new policies coming out from Ottawa so soon after this government ended the bombing mission against ISIS should lead all reasonable people to ask exactly what elements of our population is this administration trying to attract or appease and what ends is it trying to serve? The answers are none too clear and the indications are none too reassuring.