Matt Gurney: If deportation is appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists?

Matt Gurney is unsatisfied with the principle, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” as an explanation why we revoke citizenship for fraud and misrepresentation but not for terrorism:

After the Second World War, thousands of citizens of defeated enemy nations — Germany, Italy, Japan — moved to Canada. These immigrants included many who had served in the armed forces of those nations, and perhaps had even fought against Canadians. Mere military service in a once-hostile nation was not, and should not have been, found to be sufficient cause to deny them citizenship once the war was over. In some rare cases, however, Canada later discovered (or was told) that people living here as naturalized Canadians had been involved, for instance, in the Holocaust. These individuals, once convicted of their war crimes, had their citizenship taken away and were returned to their original countries of origin to face justice.

If that’s appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists?

The legal answer would be, of course, that these individuals weren’t stripped of their passports because they were terrible people who had done awful things, but because they’d lied about having done those terrible things. But while perhaps legally valid, the argument is morally and pragmatically absurd. We don’t exile liars, nor should fraud be somehow treated as a crime worse than, say, genocide. The legal circumstances provided an excuse to what’s really, and rightly, an exercise in morality — denying the honour of Canadian citizenship to those who do not deserve it.

If the Liberals wish to reverse parts of C-24, they of course have that right. They are the government. But concerned Canadians are owed more than slogans. The government should be clear why war criminals can be deported, but terrorists with dual nationalities can keep their passport forever. They may have an answer for it. If so, let’s hear it.

If I were writing the talking points:

  • There is a difference between one’s behaviour before one becomes a citizen and after one becomes Canadian
  • Before, all applicants must meet requirements (residency, language, knowledge etc) in order to take the oath and become citizens
  • Integrity is central to this process
  • Any misrepresentation or fraud, like any government program, means one loses the benefits of the particular program
  • After, all citizens must be treated equally before the law, whether Canadian-born or foreign-born, whether Canadian citizen only or dual-national
  • Current and past cases involve all of these variations, and should be subject to the same punishment. One should not have different punishments for the same crime

Responsive (if asked what about those lying when they take the oath)

  • There is no reliable way to test the sincerity of those taking the oath unlike the other, more easily verifiable, requirements

Comments or suggestions welcome …

Source: Matt Gurney: If deportation is appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists? | National Post

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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