An Iranian-Canadian perspective on how the bill ends centuries of liberal thought

 (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
(Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

I’m an Iranian-born Canadian, my parents immigrated here when I was three and I hold both an Iranian and Canadian passport. Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, broadens the pretenses for the revocation of my citizenship. While previously it could be revoked “if it was obtained by fraud or under false pretenses,” it can now also be revoked if I commit an act of treason. This bill puts me in a very difficult position.

On one hand, I have a debt to my country of birth to undergo the 18 months of military training that are mandatory for all males who finish high school. On the other hand, under this legislation I have to live in Canada for 183 days of the year, or the Prime Minister’s Office has the authority to revoke my citizenship. If I pay my 18-month debt to Iran, I am guilty of treason. This bill puts me between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Harper seems to forget that Canada was built by immigrants. We have all come here from across the world and founded a country that isn't based on the old monarchies of Europe. And let's not forget: the monarchy was based on the absolute rule of the sovereign. Bill C-24—and C-51—effectively encroach on the principles that Canada was founded on, as well as reframe the Prime Minister as a monarch instead of a representative.

This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to Canada. America, France and Britain have passed laws that degrade the rights and freedoms of their citizens, and that is a travesty. Western liberal democracies are founded upon two ideas: a limited constitutional government and the rights of the individual.

Bill C-24 dismantles the foundation of liberal democracies because it expands the power of the government, giving it unconstitutional authority over the rights of the individual. The bill puts cracks in Canada’s foundation.

WIlliam Pitt, the Prime Minister of Britain in the late 18th century, said, “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.” It seems fitting that the narrative of the Harper administration is that it is necessary to be able to revoke citizenship.

There goes the work of John Locke, Montesquieu, Thomas Jefferson, Rousseau, Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill. Two centuries of liberal thought have been shattered by a phobia so great that it is grounds to revoke the freedom of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Under this law, 800,000 people have become second-class citizens. I am one of them. I don’t have the same rights, I don’t have the same freedoms, I am simply not as Canadian. I have been condemned to a status lesser than a Citizen, and why? Because I wasn’t born here.

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