Member Of Parliament for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
March 10, 2016

Second Reading (C-6) act to Amend the Citizenship Act

However, to have a cohesive democratic society that is diverse, we always still need to have and maintain that idea of common values. There is a point at which somebody goes too far and steps outside of those common values. This is what we are fighting for, and this is something that we on this side of the House believe is worth fighting for, the idea that citizenship must at some point entail common values. As we have seen, this is an idea contested by members opposite.

The Prime Minister recently told The New York Times“There is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. Those qualities are what make us the first post-national state”. This is deeply troubling, that the Prime Minister of Canada would spout, respectfully, such nonsense. This is a bastardization of a great Canadian political experiment, a troubling wrong turn in thinking, and it comes at a time when, frankly, Canada is at a high point in terms of diversity and collective values. We have to maintain it. People come here because of our diversity, but not just because of our diversity, also because they want to buy into a set of shared democratic values in that context. The vast majority of people who come here have no interest in our allowing terrorists to retain their citizenship.

   I want to say as well that this bill is important to me personally. As the son and grandson of immigrants, I was always raised with this particular appreciation of the value of Canadian citizenship and the way it expresses our collective values. My grandmother grew up in a country that did not believe she had basic human dignity because of her race. My mother was born in Venezuela when her father was working on an energy project there. She is, in fact, a dual citizen. My father's parents arrived from Malta just a couple of months after he was born, so he liked to tell us that he had been made in Malta. Since my father is also an obstetrician, we were never in doubt about what that meant. It may be the case that I am the first Canadian MP of Maltese descent and this no doubt marks a major step forward in terms of our social evolution. My wife's family members were immigrants to Canada from Pakistan where they faced increasing persecution because of their Christian faith. Because of a history of ethnic and religious persecution, both of our families really understand what it means to be in a country like Canada, why our citizenship is valuable, and why we need to fight for those common values against the attempts of the current government to de-emphasize them and to allow convicted terrorists to remain citizens.

   I want to conclude my speech today just on a few points of refutation related to what we have heard in the debate so far. I must say we have heard some very good speeches from the government side, but we have heard many speeches that just simply repeat the same slogans over and over again about the importance of diversity, as if that were actually a subject for debate. Listening to this debate, I have to say that there is no party with a monopoly on respect for diversity, but there does seem to be one party with a monopoly on sanctimony. Let us put the sanctimonious slogans aside and let us talk about the issues. Let us talk about the content of the bill because the content of the bill is simply too important to get lost in repeated sloganeering.

We have heard a lot of misinformation. We have heard members of the government say that new Canadians are worried that they might lose their citizenship just because they chose to reside outside the country. It is very clear that those people who are citizens are not required to live in Canada, but we do ask and should ask for the affirmation that people intend to reside in Canada. That does not preclude anyone who is a Canadian from living abroad at certain times, but it aligns us with a basic principle that if they just come here to get their citizenship and then plan on leaving right away, that does not really reflect an understanding of the value of Canadian citizenship.

   We have heard this strange assertion that this violates the rule of law. Of course it does not. Citizenship is revokable in every country in the world. It would remain revokable in Canada after this bill passes, and these changes have not been required by the courts. Of course the current elected government has a right to propose these measures, but to suggest that they are required by some principle of the rule of law reflects a misunderstanding of the way the law works. It is the invention of an artificial principle of law.

   The Liberals have sought to skew the previous government's record, a record that includes the highest sustained immigration levels in the country's history. This is a critical discussion, so I ask the government members to put aside the slogans, put aside the talking points and misinformation, and let us have this discussion in a serious way. Canadian identity is too important.


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