Thursday, August 13, 2009

Using Passports To Revoke Citizenship

The Canadian government has taken a disturbing turn in recent years, and under the Conservatives, it has become amplified.

There have been several cases that have hit the media in recent years that bear consideration. In particular, I want to draw attention to the cases of Abousfian Abdelrazik and Suaad Hagi Mohamud. In both of these cases, the Canadian government has acted to deny Canadian citizens access to the documents needed to return home.

In the first case, the government acted for several years to deny Mr. Abdelrazik the right to return to Canada. In the second case, the government spent 2 full months denying Ms. Mohamud's identity in spite of corroborating documentation.

Both of these are extremely serious cases. They represent a government acting to deny its acknowledged citizens the right to return home. Canada does not have a "two tier" citizenship policy - it is not easier to strip citizenship from somebody because they immigrated to Canada rather than being born here - although past Reform/Alliance party tirades have suggested that many within the party would like to do just that.

So ... instead of attempting to revoke citizenships, the Conservatives have chosen to use this tactic of revoking passports and denying replacements to their victims. A few have made their way into the public spotlight, but how many more have been quietly muzzled in some foreign prison?

As for those that argue that the government has no obligations to you when you travel abroad, I argue that the government is in fact morally and legally obligated to provide assistance - and certainly not act in a manner that deliberately obstructs a citizen trying to return home. The moral case is trivial; the legal case is rooted in the Charter of Rights and its guarantees of mobility and security of the person. (Which, one can arguably claim the government is violating both of in these cases)

[Update 20:05 13/08/09]:
I see that once again, the Harper Con$ are persuaded to take actual action (or at least talk about it) once the political heat gets high enough. When it takes public outrage before the government acts on behalf of its citizens, it is no longer a government that represents the people it claims to govern.

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