Court orders government to repatriate 4 Canadian men detained in Syria

Of note. One of the arguments used against the previous government’s citizenship legislation revocation provision was that countries would “offload” their problem citizens to other countries. Jack Letts, a Canadian citizen by descent had his British citizenship revoked, forcing Canada to be responsible, despite him having minimal ties.

Gurski is likely correct that none of the returnees will ever be prosecuted given difficulties in obtaining evidence and witnesses:

The Federal Court has ordered the government to repatriate four Canadian men currently being held in northeastern Syria.

The Canadians are among a number of foreign nationals in Syrian prisons for suspected ISIS members that are run by the Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist group.

Family members of 23 detained Canadians — four men, six women and 13 children — had asked the court to order the government to arrange for their return. They argued that refusing to do so would violate their charter rights.

The government agreed Thursday to move forward on repatriating the 19 Canadian women and children.

In the written decision, the judge cited the conditions of the prison and the fact that the men haven’t been charged and brought to trial.

“The conditions of the … men are even more dire than those of the women and children who Canada has just agreed to repatriate,” the decision reads.

“There is no evidence any of them have been tried or convicted, let alone tried in a manner recognized or sanctioned by international law.”

The judge also noted that the court was not asked to rule on why the applicants went to the region and that the government didn’t provide evidence that they took part in terrorist activities.

Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for most of the applicants, said that if there is any evidence the Canadians took part in terrorist activities, Canada should put them on trial here.

“These are Canadian citizens, they are being unlawfully, arbitrarily detained in either detention camps or in prisons, they haven’t been charged with anything,” Greenspon told CBC.

“There’s no likelihood that they’re ever going to be charged with anything over there. So bring them home.”

Jack Letts, who has been imprisoned in Syria for more than four years after allegedly joining ISIS, is among the four men.

Letts admitted in a 2019 interview to joining ISIS in Syria. His family says he made that admission under duress and there is no evidence that he ever fought for the group.

The former British-Canadian dual citizen, who was born and raised in Oxford, U.K., had his British citizenship revoked three years ago, leaving the Canadian government as his only viable means of escaping.

Barbara Jackman, the lawyer representing the Letts family, told CBC on Thursday that it is a violation of the detainees’ human rights to hold them without trial.

“This case was based on the human rights that are detained abroad and whether Canada, as a country, is obligated to help them,” she said.

Former CSIS analyst Phil Gurski told CBC News Network on Thursday that he doubts any of the adults returning would face justice for any crimes they may have committed.

“The witnesses aren’t here, the evidence isn’t here,” he told host Natasha Fatah. “As a Canadian citizen, I’m outraged that people are going to get away with it.”

Gurski said it would also put extra pressure on Canada’s intelligence bodies to monitor the individuals that do return.

In a statement Saturday, Global Affairs Canada said the department is reviewing the decision.

“The safety and security of Canadians is our government’s top priority. We remain committed to taking a robust approach to this issue.”

Source: Court orders government to repatriate 4 Canadian men detained in Syria

IYMI: Chinese residing in Australia reveal why they are giving up citizenship of their homeland — or why they don’t want to

Some signs of similar views among Chinese Canadians:

Xi Jinping securing his third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party was the last straw for Victor Zeng.

Mr Zeng, 26, who grew up in a remote town in Xinjiang province before moving to Melbourne to marry his husband, became an Australian permanent resident about 18 months ago.

With Mr Xi cementing his position as China’s unchallenged leader at the CCP’s National Party Congress in October, he now feels war with Taiwan and a return to a state-run collective economy is imminent.

And he worries that if he goes back to China as a Chinese citizen he may be trapped there, or one day his Australian permanent residency may be unexpectedly revoked.

“I don’t know if this is my paranoia, but I feel uncertain,” he told the ABC.

“So I’m going to discuss it with my family as soon as possible and enter the process of joining Australian citizenship.”

China’s increasing authoritarianism under Mr Xi — typified by the strict COVID-zero policy — is prompting some Chinese residents in Australia to consider taking the next step to officially become Australians.

However, China does not allow dual nationality, so it means forfeiting their Chinese citizenship.

It’s a difficult decision, with practical and emotional considerations.

‘I felt that there is another way of life’

Mr Zeng said he started feeling “conditions were deteriorating” in China from around 2016, as Beijing intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Uyghur community.

In Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are about half the population, many areas were cut off from the surrounding streets by iron gates, and authorities were checking identity cards everywhere.

“After arriving in Australia, I felt that there is another way of life that is not coerced into the grand narratives, that I can say no to the propaganda and political missions,” he said.

Mr Zeng said his biggest concern was for his family members who were still living in Xinjiang.

“If I become an Australian citizen, I don’t know if there will be more restrictions on my [visitor] visa [to China] as Xinjiang is a sensitive region,” he said.

‘We have a stronger sense of urgency than before’

In the 2021-22 financial year, 5,392 people born in China became Australian citizens, according to figures from the Department of Home Affairs.

Fan Yang, a researcher at Deakin University’s Alfred Institute, said individual choices were often connected to structural change at the societal, cultural, political, national, and even international levels.

“Xi’s third term would give people the impression that China is less likely to change,” she said.

“For those who gained significant benefit from their social status in China, it is less likely that they would give up on their Chinese citizenship.

“However, for those who tend to be more politically active, they are more likely to acquire Australian citizenship for the rights of political participation.”

While some Chinese residents in Australia share Mr Zeng’s concerns, those worries may not be enough to push them to give up their Chinese citizenship.

Aaron, who asked not to use his real name, migrated to Australia with his family in 2011.

Mr Xi’s third term and the continuation of the national COVID-zero policy were two “realistic factors” that led him to “seriously consider the choice of citizenship”.

“We have a stronger sense of urgency than before,” he said.

“China’s political and democratic environments have changed dramatically. There is the possibility of going backwards … we have put our citizenship choices as a priority now.

“When the politics is stable and the economic reforms are more stable and China connects with the rest of the world well, we think our citizenship choices don’t matter that much.”

However, because he still operates businesses and has property in China, he is reluctant to follow Mr Zeng’s lead and give up his Chinese citizenship.

He said he was also worried he would lose access to a social security fund he had been putting money into for many years.

“If we join Australian citizenship, we worry that they won’t allow us to draw money from it,” he said.

‘Identity and a choice of loyalty’

Yu Tao, senior lecturer and coordinator of Chinese studies at the University of Western Australia, said for many Chinese migrants, the decision to take Australian citizenship was tied to their “identity and a choice of loyalty”.

Becoming an Australian citizen meant “cutting ties with China” symbolically, he said.

“If China continues to close its door or gets very isolated from the rest of the world [under the COVID-zero policy], then inevitably, lots of people will have to make a choice,” he said.

“If the bilateral relationship is better, some people [will] probably feel they don’t have to make a choice.”

He said in isolation Mr Xi’s third term was unlikely to be the “single and biggest reason” for their citizenship choices.

“Xi’s third term was in a way well expected [from] when he removed the term limits of the president of PRC,” he said.

Dr Tao said the long-term sociopolitical conditions under Mr Xi’s rule, such as the COVID-zero policy and Sino-Australian relations, were likely having a more profound impact.

He said practical, economic issues were also important factors.

“I suppose if, in the long run, COVID is going to touch upon some of these practical material parts of the consideration, that will also have a profound impact on how people negotiate their citizenship,” he said.

Family ties still bind for some

Riki Lee, who came to Australia as an international student and has had permanent residency status since 2014, said taking Australian citizenship was not even a consideration for him.

He said Chinese people, influenced by the Confucian culture, were deeply affected by thoughts of homesickness and nostalgia for loved ones.

“I am an only child and my parents and family are in China,” Mr Lee said.

“If unexpected things happen, such as a war or if the bilateral relationship gets worse, a Chinese passport and a PR (an Australian permanent residency) are the most convenient way to return to China.”

‘I feel like anything could happen if I’m in China’

Dr Yang said Beijing offered incentives for young people — particularly academics — to return to China and contribute to the country, such as research allowances and discounted accommodation.

However, she said she did not believe these sweeteners played into many people’s thinking.

“Those policies are like scratching an itch outside one’s boots due to the harsh academic environment and the lack of academic funding in China,” she said.

“Academics are not well paid in China and there are unwritten rules that disadvantage female academics or LGBTQIA+ academics.”

Jessica Ching, an educational psychology graduate and holder of a Hong Kong passport, grew up in mainland China.

Before the pandemic, Ms Ching spent time in China doing psychology workshops with parents and schools and had intended to live and work in China.

She is now hesitant to continue her plan.

“I think especially in the next three to five years, I don’t see myself going back to China to start a clinic or actually going into schools to speak because there’s an imminent threat that I can’t return back to Australia,” she said.

“I feel like anything could happen if I’m in China.”

Ms Ching has a utilitarian approach to her citizenship.

She said she was holding on to her Hong Kong passport, which enables visa-free travel to many more countries than a Chinese passport, for now but she was worried that in a couple of years’ time it might lose its benefits.

“I will try to keep my Hong Kong passport as long as I can, but if it gets to a point where we have to choose, I think I will choose to be an Australian citizen,” she said.

Source: Chinese residing in Australia reveal why they are giving up citizenship of their homeland — or why they don’t want to

Akshay Kumar clarifies the status about his citizenship and Indian passport: “Having a Canadian passport does not mean I am not less of an Indian”

Instrumental citizenship. “Not less of an Indian” but his phrasing suggests he considers himself less of a Canadian:

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, who holds a Canadian passport and often gets trolled on social media for the same, recently clarified the status about his citizenship.

At the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2019, the actor addressed the trolling and shared an update on his Indian citizenship and said, “Having a Canadian passport does not mean I am not less of an Indian. I am very much Indian. I have been here since last nine years when I got the passport. And I don’t want to get into the reason of why, what happened, my films were not working, blah blah blah, chalo woh theek hai.”

“Yes, I had said it in 2019, I applied for it,” he added. “Then the pandemic happened and everything shut down for 2-2.5 years. My renounce letter is here and very soon my whole passport will be coming.” When said that he does intend to do it anyway, he said, “What do I do. I didn’t bring the pandemic.” Previously at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2019, Akshay had shared that he is in the process of applying for an Indian passport.

The same year, Akshay also took to Twitter addressing the online fuss about his Canadian citizenship. “I really don’t understand the unwarranted interest and negativity about my citizenship,” he tweeted at the time. “I have never hidden or denied that I hold a Canadian passport. It is also equally true that I have not visited Canada in the last seven years.”

“I work in India, and pay all my taxes in India,” he further wrote. While all these years, I have never needed to prove my love for India to anyone, I find it disappointing that my citizenship issue is constantly dragged into needless controversy, a matter that is personal, legal, non-political, and of no consequence to others. I would like to continue contributing in my small way to the causes that I believe in and make India stronger and stronger.”

StatCan: A portrait of citizenship in Canada from the 2021 Census

An informative and useful update from their earlier study based on previous censa (Trends in the Citizenship Rate Among New Immigrants to Canada).

Of particular interest to me were the following elements:

Numbers of Canadian citizens born abroad: 322,530. This number quantifies those who will be impacted by the first generation cut-off introduced by the Conservative government in 2009 and thus not able to pass on their Canadian citizenship to their children. This is currently being challenged in court with profiles of families affected. IMO, the previous retention provisions were virtually impossible to administer consistently and efficiently, and the first generation cut-off is preferable.

Naturalization rate:

“Among all eligible immigrants admitted to Canada at least four years before a census year, 83.1% or just over 6.0 million immigrants reported Canadian citizenship in the 2021 census, while a larger proportion of the immigrant population reported Canadian citizenship in 2016 (85.8%) and 2011 (87.8%).”

Yet IRCC continues to use, in its annual reporting, the percentage of all immigrants, no matter whether they arrived five or 50 years ago, as its benchmark. Totally irrelevant to measuring IRCC’s performance. As I continue to argue, IRCC needs to set performance standards with respect to recent immigrants, based on the previous census period (essentially the approach StatCan uses).

Improved data on dual citizenship: The change from a simple question regarding dual citizenship to a more complex two-step set of questions has resulted in an increase in the number reporting dual citizenship. The results of this change:

“In 2021, 11.2% or 3.7 million Canadian citizens reported more than one country of citizenship. This was over double the number reported in 2016, when 4.5% or 1.4 million of all Canadian citizens identified as having more than one citizenship.”

I will be doing a more comprehensive analysis of 2021 Census citizenship data over the coming months, updating my analysis of the 2016 Census (What the census tells us about citizenship):

Source: A portrait of citizenship in Canada from the 2021 Census

Date set for Bundestag debate on dual German citizenship

Of note:

As part of a major overhaul of the country’s immigration policy, the German traffic-light coalition government has set a date to debate a draft law that would allow dual citizenship for residents.

Bundestag to debate German dual citizenship

Until now, the prospect of dual German citizenship seemed impossible for many of the country’s migrants. But yesterday evening The Localannounced in an exclusive article that the Bundestag will debate a new draft law which would allow dual German citizenship. This means that migrants with non-EU nationality would be able to naturalise as German citizens without having to sacrifice their other citizenship status. The policy was first brought to the table as a cornerstone of the traffic-light coalition agreement last year.

The new law would also minimise the time that non-German nationals have to wait before beginning the naturalisation process. The timeline is expected to be reduced from eight years to five years. In some cases, where applicants prove that they are integrated into German society and can certify German language proficiency, they would be able to apply for naturalisation after just three years living and working in Germany.

“People who come here, build a life for themselves and feel a permanent connection to Germany should be able to naturalise quickly,” FDP member of the Bundestag’s interior committee, Stephan Thomae, told The Local. “We want people who live with us, who have integrated well linguistically, legally, economically, and culturally, who contribute to our society’s success and fulfil their responsibilities – to also have the associated rights and make them a permanent offer of integration.”

As of yet there is no set date when the law would come into effect, but it is certain that long-term residents eligible to apply for naturalisation can expect a wait while details of the bill are ironed out before it can come into law. Speaking to The Local, the chair of the SPD body in the Bundestag’s interior committee, Sebastian Hartmann, said, “If the cabinet makes its expected decision in December, we should be able to complete the parliamentary procedure by summer 2023 at the latest.”

Residency versus citizenship rights in Germany

While people with temporary German residency can be granted the security of permanent residence, this status does not come with the same rights and security as holding German citizenship. Over the past years, these circumstances seemed unlikely to change, as Angela Merkel’s CDU were firmly opposed to updating citizenship laws.

Until now, residents in Germany have been able to apply for German citizenship through three methods: through naturalisation (Einbürgerung) after eight years of living in Germany; by right of blood (Abstammungsprinzip) if you are a direct descendant of a German parent; and by right of soil (Geburtsortsprinzip) if you were born within German borders to non-German parents.

The limitations of the latter method, that at least one of your parents must have been a permanent resident in Germany for at least eight years and possess the necessary permissions to remain in Germany indefinitely, means that many people with migrant backgrounds in Germany who were born and have grown up in the country, do not hold citizenship.

Since only those who hold a German passport are entitled to vote in German elections at federal level, the introduction of a dual nationality law could also impact Germany’s voting tendencies. According to broadcaster ZDF, 14 percent of the German population over the age of 18 (9,7 million people) were not eligible to vote in the country’s federal elections last autumn.

Source: Date set for Bundestag debate on dual German citizenship

To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship

Interesting arguments but likely overstates the importance of dual citizenship as a factor in facilitating a return of former Chinese nationals to China, particularly given Chinese government general repression (not limited to Uyghurs and Hong Kong) and control (e.g., COVID lockdowns):

Citizenship has become a sensitive topic in China. Every so often, you’ll see lists in the Chinese media – of film stars who hold foreign passports, or billionaires who made money in China but now hold foreign passports. On the Chinese internet, some of these individuals get labelled as unpatriotic, or worse.

One of netizens’ latest targets is Harvard physics professor Xi Yin, a China-born prodigy who has been quoted as saying he has no plans to return to his native country at present. A US citizen now, Yin is also married to an American woman.

China does not allow dual citizenship. The line of reasoning seems to be that the authorities don’t want to create a group of people who enjoy too much privilege, or potentially allow criminals to evade punishment. Critics say it is a way of ensuring citizens’ loyalty or maintaining a monoculture.

But much of the rest of the world has moved on, with more countries embracing dual citizenship against the backdrop of globalisation. Back in the 1960s, only one-third of countries allowed dual citizenship. Today, 75 per cent do.

Perhaps China should follow suit. It would help reverse the brain drain from the country.

Around the time Deng Xiaoping launched the reform and opening up policy, students were sent abroad to study, in countries including the US, Canada and the UK. This trend did not always pay off. In 2007, China Daily reported that, between 1978 and 2006, 1.06 million Chinese went overseas for studies and more than 70 per cent chose not to return. At that time, China probably suffered the most severe brain drain in the world.

To tackle the problem, Beijing has increased investment in higher education, and research and development. It introduced programmes such as the Thousand Talents Planto lure back leading Chinese talent. Under the plan “sea turtles”, or returnees from overseas – in Chinese, the two terms are homonyms – may receive a one-time bonus of 1 million yuan (US$148,400). However, the programme has reportedly delivered mixed results. Not nearly enough sea turtles swim home.

As China grew rich, it became common practice among affluent families to send children abroad for further education. Between 2015 and 2019, 80 per cent of these students did return. Yet, China is still losing first-rate talent. In recent years, a reported 80 per cent of Chinese PhD students in the US have been reluctant to return.

Many developing countries in the world lose talent to the US, but China probably suffers more, especially in the realm of hi-tech. Those bright Chinese minds working at the cutting edge of American technology might also be hampering China’s own tech ambitions.

Indeed, China’s hope of dominating artificial intelligence may be threatened by the brain drain. According to a study conducted by MacroPolo, a think tank run by the Paulson Institute, Chinese researchers accounted for a quarter of the authors whose papers were accepted by a prestigious AI conference in 2019.

However, three-quarters of the Chinese authors were working outside China, and 85 per cent of those were working in the US, at tech giants such as Google or universities like UCLA.

Source: To reverse brain drain, China should be more flexible on dual citizenship

Legally Becoming a Ukrainian Citizen Now “Even More Difficult” – KyivPost – Ukraine’s Global Voice

More on the proposed changes:

Ukraine is one of only about 26 nations that does not allow dual citizenship. In recent times, including immediately before the February invasion, there were calls to change the citizenship laws to reflect the modern reality of what citizenship could mean in Ukraine.

Proponents argued that some foreigners, by merit, deserved citizenship: Such as foreigners who came to Ukraine and volunteered in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, deserved the right of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship without relinquishing their other passport. Other arguments were more pragmatic: millions of Ukrainians live outside of Ukraine, many send money home which contributes to the roughly 10% of pre-war GDP of Ukraine, and have obtained foreign passports which should not deprive them of their right to being Ukrainian.

Likewise, arguments were made that the current citizenship laws put Ukrainians living under occupation, such as in the Donbas, in legal limbo if they have chosen, or been forced, to receive a “DNR” or “LNR” passports. The hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of Ukrainians in Crimea may have less appetite for returning home to Ukraine if they felt that they would be discriminated against for having received Russian passports – said some.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Zelenski tasked Prime Minister Denis Shmygal with investigating how best an exam of the Ukrainian language could be introduced for those seeking to obtain Ukrainian citizenship. The President’s instructions came following a public petition that had been signed by over 25,000 Ukrainian citizens.

What will happen next with the legislation is unclear, but given the strongly patriotic public sentiment now in Ukraine, it is likely that the language exam will be introduced in the near future.

Source: Legally Becoming a Ukrainian Citizen Now “Even More Difficult” – KyivPost – Ukraine’s Global Voice

B.C. scholar with expired Chinese passport says renewing it could put personal safety at risk

Reasonable assessment of risk:

A prominent Chinese human rights scholar working in Vancouver says her career and personal safety are at risk because of an expired passport and delays in Canada’s immigration system.

Guldana Salimjan is a postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University, who also directs the University of British Columbia’s Xinjiang Documentation Project, a federally-funded program documenting the internment of ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. The project has been referenced during debates in Parliament.

Salimjan has a job pending at Indiana University in the U.S. — but no paperwork to cross the Canada-U.S. border.

Source: B.C. scholar with expired Chinese passport says renewing it could put personal safety at risk

Kluth: Golden Passports, Citizenship and Identity in a Time of War

On the intersection of citizenship and identities, never as simple as presented. But citizenship decisions, like all decisions, have consequences:

As a dual citizen who hangs out with polyglots carrying several passports each, I can attest that identity is a complicated thing. It’ll never be captured adequately by lists of checkboxes — from age and sex to race, religion, profession or indeed citizenship. Just glance across Europe right now.

In one corner, Ukrainians are fighting heroically to preserve their distinct national identity against Russia, whose despot denies they have one. Some of the defenders speak Ukrainian as a mother tongue, others Russian or something else. The older ones used to be citizens of another entity, the Soviet Union. But now their allegiance is to Ukraine.

Right next door is the European Union. It’s a confederation that recognizes overlapping and thus ambiguous layers of identity and citizenship, including both a European and a national tier. Moreover, many of its members have in the past been quite relaxed about granting citizenship to outsiders, provided those have money. In return for big investments, these foreigners got “golden passports.”

The EU never liked these schemes, seeing them as mechanisms to dodge taxes or conduct other monkey business. That’s why it has leaned on countries like Bulgaria, Cyprus or Malta to quit the practice. Since the attack on Ukraine, the EU started cracking down harder. It fears that golden EU passports given to Russian oligarchs or Kremlin-cronies — granting them all the rights of other Europeans — could subvert the sanctions passed against them.

Ukraine and the EU are bookends around a variegated subject. People gain multiple citizenships for all sorts of reasons. Some Brits, in the run-up to Brexit, remembered an Irish grandmother to get themselves an EU passport. Many descendants of German Jews or other victims of the Nazis have exercised their right to become German citizens. Immigrants get naturalized in many countries every day.

Other bi-nationals, like me, simply fall between jus solis— Latin for “right of the soil” — and jus sanguinis — the “right of the blood,” creepy as that term sounds nowadays. That means we automatically got one citizenship through our place of birth, and another through our parentage.

Sometimes these twists of fate are boons that give people more options in life. Other times, they are banes, as for so-called “accidental Americans” — those who were born in the U.S. but lost contact with the country as babies or children, and often don’t even speak English. And yet, owing to the peculiar American tax system — which is based on citizenship rather than residence — they face a nightmare of compliance paperwork and are often barred from financial services in their home country.

Even in extreme cases, however, citizenship is rarely as problematic as the lack of it. Millions of people around the world — Palestinians, Rohingya, Kurds and others — are stateless. Their sense of identity is just as strong. But without the right papers, they often live in limbo.

Historically, the idea of citizenship has morphed enough to make the concept seem almost arbitrary. It originated in city states (poleis in Greek, the root of “politics”) such as ancient Athens or Thebes, where it described the rights and duties of rich, non-slave men. But during the Middle Ages, the notion all but disappeared. Identity and standing were instead based on a person’s feudal class — such as peasantry, clergy or aristocracy.

When the idea of citizenship returned in the modern era — especially with the American and French revolutions — it was again based on a covenant between an individual and a state. The former got rights (to vote, for example) but also responsibilities (to pay taxes, say).

Even so, citizenship rarely fits neatly with more slippery notions about identity. If you had an interesting life in the 20th century, you could have held papers issued variously by Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bosnia Herzegovina — and identified all along as Serb, Croat or something else. Latinx Americans, Turkish Germans, Algerian French — ever more identities in the modern world are hyphenated and thus complex.

That’s even true for people with only one citizenship — especially if they’re “army brats” or children of expats. Raised in countries other than the one named on their passport, such “third-culture kids” tend to float between contexts, sometimes feeling unmoored but also showing unusual flexibility and tolerance. Many feel most at home with other cosmopolitans of any nation rather than their own compatriots.

For some people who feel unambiguously rooted in their countries, such fluid identities can be provocations. Populism has been blamed in part on a backlash by so-called “somewheres” against the allegedly footloose “anywheres.”

The multinationals in turn chafe at the taunts of their compatriots who don’t consider them “real” Americans, Germans, Japanese or whatever. They consider these labels attempts at exclusion, and power grabs.

The reality is that identity and allegiance are highly individual and subjective. Take Eileen Gu. She’s an American-born freestyle skier with a Chinese mother, who competed for the U.S. before winning two gold medals and a silver in this year’s Olympics for China, a country that doesn’t even recognize dual citizenship. Is that fair or foul? Neither, I’d say. It’s simply up to her.

Part of freedom is choosing our communities, allegiances and loyalties. And part of tolerance is respecting the choices of others. In the modern world, those decisions are sometimes confusing, other times urgent and clear. Just ask the brave Ukrainians fighting for their country right now.

Source: Golden Passports, Citizenship and Identity in a Time of War

Federal government warns Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Of note. Apart from some of the legal issues raised in the article, always felt from a citizenship perspective that taking up arms for another country suggested a higher loyalty to that country than Canada (which country are you willing to die for?). The citizenship oath requires one to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada,” which again, as noted by the experts cited in the article, have considerable ambiguity.

And of course, there are differences in terms of which military one fights for (formal allies such as NATO members or informal ones such as Ukraine and more arguably Israel) or whether, more questionable, fighting for foreign brigades or irregular forces (fighting for a listed entity like ISIS would be in contravention of Canadian laws):

Ottawa is warning that Canadians who decide to fight for Russia in Ukraine could face severe consequences, even as it acknowledges for the first time uncertainties about whether it is legal to bear arms for the Ukrainian side.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the warning to anyone contemplating joining the Russian military invasion of Ukraine on Thursday as she announced more Canadian sanctions on Moscow and support for Kyiv in response to that attack.

Asked at a news conference whether Canadians who pick up arms for Russia would be prosecuted, Freeland said: “We are very clear that this war is illegal. And Canada will take a very appropriately severe view of anyone who is fighting this war.”

Yet federal ministers appeared less confident about the legality of fighting for Ukraine, whose government appealed last weekend for foreign volunteers to join an “international brigade” to help defend the country from Russia.

Numerous Canadians have since said they plan to answer the call to arms, with some having already flown overseas.

Appearing alongside Freeland, Defence Minister Anita Anand told reporters that while she understood the desire that many Canadians have to bear arms for Ukraine, “the legalities of the situation … are indeterminant at this time.”

The federal government had previously avoided directly addressing the legality of Canadians fighting in Ukraine, or whether it supports those who want to do so. Federal ministers instead couched the issue as a matter of personal risk.

That stood in stark contrast to the United Kingdom and Australia, whose governments have noted the potential legal issues that their citizens could face if they fight in a conflict that does not involve their countries.

Anand instead encouraged people to enlist with the Canadian Armed Forces, which has launched a new recruitment drive as it struggles with a shortfall of thousands of active service members while facing growing demands at home and abroad.

“If there are Canadians who are interested in the Armed Forces, the Canadian Armed Forces is currently recruiting,” said Anand, who worked as a lawyer and legal scholar at the University of Toronto prior to entering politics.

“And we would very much welcome applications from across the country to the Canadian Armed Forces, where we have had a training mission in Ukraine since 2015 and have trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later sidestepped a similar question about the legality of Canadians fighting for Ukraine, referring back to the government’s previous warnings about the risks of travel in Ukraine before adding that he was not a lawyer.

While Freeland did not say whether Canadians who fight for Russia could be prosecuted, author and historian Tyler Wentzell suspected federal lawyers are now taking a hard, long look at the Foreign Enlistment Act and how it can apply today.

Passed in 1937, the act was intended to keep Canada neutral during the Spanish Civil War and basically banned joining a foreign military to fight a country Canada considers “friendly.” Those who violate the law can face a fine of up to $2,000 and two years in prison.

But exactly what counts as a friendly country is not defined, and Wentzell noted the act specifically gives cabinet the power and flexibility to determine which foreign conflicts are allowed or banned.

“They can issue regulations that unequivocally say: You can’t join the Russian Armed Forces,” said Wentzell, who has studied Canadians’ involvement in previous foreign conflicts and written a book on Canadians fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

“They can also issue regulations that say: We will not prosecute anyone, or we require ministerial authorization to prosecute anyone for the following offences.”

Some experts have noted that certain paramilitary units in Ukraine, and even some segments of the Ukrainian military, have been linked to far-right extremism and hate, and even accused of past war crimes.

That has raised concern about Canadians who decide to fight against Russia either knowingly or unknowingly becoming involved with such units and becoming complicit in such activities and later held to account.

Wentzell said it is noteworthy that the government is not only discouraging Canadians from fighting in Ukraine, “they’re not promising anything. In fact, what they’re really saying is that they’re not promising anything.”

Source: Federal government warns Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine