Tories move to strip citizenship from Canadian-born terrorist

So what this means, is that someone born in Canada, whose radicalization happened in this country, can have their citizenship revoked (pending the court challenge).

The Harper government is attempting to revoke the citizenship of a convicted terrorist who was born and raised in Canada, Maclean’s has learned—a first under a controversial new law that has triggered intense debate during the election campaign.

Saad Gaya, 27, is believed to be the only Canadian-born citizen (terrorist or not) to ever face the prospect of being stripped of his citizenship. Until now, there was no legal mechanism to undo what has long been considered an irreversible birthright.

A member of the so-called “Toronto 18,” Gaya pleaded guilty to his role in an al-Qaeda-inspired bomb plot and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Although he was born in Montreal and grew up in Oakville, Ont., the Tories say recently enacted legislation provides the power to rescind Gaya’s citizenship because they believe he is a dual national of Pakistan—by virtue of the fact his parents, who immigrated to Ontario more than three decades ago, were born there.

Gaya, who has never lived in Pakistan, has launched a Charter challenge in Federal Court, arguing that the government’s revocation system amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” and could have “a sufficiently severe psychological and social impact.”

“For many individuals captured by the new revocation provisions and who would now face deportation, including the Applicant, their other nationality derives from a country with which they have no meaningful connection, have little or no familiarity with the language or culture, and have no family or other support network,” reads Gaya’s court filing, submitted Sept. 18. “The Applicant was born and grew up in Canada. His family is in Canada and has been since before he was born.”

That Saad Gaya was a terrorist is not in dispute. A former honours student at Hamilton’s McMaster University, he confessed to participating in a 2006 conspiracy to detonate bombs in southern Ontario in retaliation for Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. Although a judge concluded he was not the plot’s driving force, he was a loyal, willing underling who followed every order; the day he was arrested (June 2, 2006), police videotaped him at a north Toronto warehouse unloading what he believed to be a truckload of explosive fertilizer.

Gaya himself described his criminal behaviour as “shameful,” “politically naïve,” and “irrational.”

Yet despite his undeniable guilt, the Tories’ push to revoke Gaya’s citizenship presents an uncomfortable (and potentially unconstitutional) possibility: that a person born in Canada could lose his Canadian status and be deported to a country he’s never known—all because his parents were born there and, by extension, passed their dual nationality onto him.

Source: EXCLUSIVE: Tories move to strip citizenship from Canadian-born terrorist

And in giving credence to the slippery slope argument, and reinforcing the wedge politics, the PM suggests expanding this to other crimes:

A re-elected Conservative government might look to strip dual citizens of their Canadian citizenship if they commit other heinous crimes, Stephen Harper said in a radio interview Wednesday.

Harper was on The Andrew Lawton Show to talk about Bill C-24, a new law the Tories passed this spring that strips dual citizens convicted of terrorism of their Canadian citizenship.

Lawton asked Harper if he might strip other dual citizens in the future if convicted of other crimes, giving by way of example a serial killer, a rapist or someone who did something to children.

“Well, you know, obviously we can look at options into the future,” Harper responded.

“The reason we did this expansion… to terrorists and treason offences really is consistent with the way the law has always worked. You know we’ve been able to revoke citizenship, for example, for war criminals. So it is really been in cases where the person’s criminal acts are not just vile, but they actually demonstrate that the person has no loyalty of any kind to the country or its values.”

Harper said he couldn’t understand why Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair believe C-24 demeans Canadian citizenship.

“I think most Canadians, whether they are immigrants or other Canadians, understand that what demeans Canadian citizenship would be to allow war criminals and convicted terrorists and people who are actually out to destroy and defame our country to keep their citizenship,” Harper said. “They have a position that is frankly indefensible to virtually all Canadians.”

Bill C-24: Harper Says Tories May Consider Stripping Other Criminals Of Citizenship

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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