Canada’s Immigration Minister Defends New Legislation Against Critics

Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander is vigorously defending his government’s sweeping new immigration law, labeling political opponents of the bill as hypocrites just as the legislation moves forward in parliament.

Responding to both Liberal and New Democratic Party attacks on the government’s Bill C-24, Alexander said both opposition parties were “offside with Canadians who recognize the immense value of Canadian citizenship, and the importance of protecting its integrity.”

The immigration minister also lashed out at immigration attorneys who are “attempting to drum up business by promoting the interests of terrorists and serious criminals over the safety and security of Canadians.”

As the new legislation prepares to become law, critics of the bill are raising voices of concern about its constitutionality. One of the most debated aspects of the new immigration law is the increased powers given to Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) to revoke dual citizenship from foreign nationals. Under the new law, dual Canadian citizenship can be revoked for those foreign nationals convicted of terrorism, treason or taking arms against Canada.

In addition, permanent residents in Canada who commit those acts will be barred from applying for Canadian citizenship.

The new immigration law also requires applicants to have resided in Canada for four of the past six years, and spent 183 days within the country in four of those years.

Critics of the bill worry that highly skilled immigrants who travel due to employment may not be able to meet that threshold requirement.

The backdrop for the political battling over this legislation is also the pending Canadian federal election, expected to be held next year as the current government completes its four year term. Not surprisingly, then, both opposition parties are using their opposition to C-24 to criticize the Conservative government’s willingness to debate the legislation.

Liberal Party immigration critic John McCallum said his party intends to vote against the legislation, and was critical of the Conservative government’s limiting parliamentary debate over the law to only two hours; McCallum claimed the reason for the limited debate is that the more Canadians learn about this immigration law, “the less they’ll like it.”

For its part, the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) also plans to vote against the bill; NDP immigration critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamonthe also questioned the bill’s legality under Canada’s constitution, stating that “all the experts at the (parliamentary) hearings said that this (immigration) bill is probably unconstitutional.”

However, at the end of the day and despite fierce parliamentary opposition, the new immigration law is almost certain to pass given the large parliamentary majority held by the current Conservative government.