What a way to come to the end of a long life!
Thanks to Bill C-24, a breathtaking piece of legislation that the Conservative Government somehow snuck past most Canadians last year, I am now a second-class citizen, though born a sixth generation Canadian. Actually, that part doesn’t matter since the point is I was born an unqualified Canadian citizen.
What did I do to deserve this punishment?
My sin is that my father, in 1906, was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He came to Canada in 1913 as a child, grew up in the West End of Vancouver and married my Mom, a fifth-generation Canadian, in 1930. Then I made my fatal error. On December 31, 1931, in Grace Hospital, Vancouver, I was born.
How I became a second-class citizen
Fatal error because at that second my Dad passed his citizenship of birth on to me by operation of the law of New Zealand. No one asked my opinion.
Since then I have lived entirely in Canada, behaved as a Canadian, was educated in Canada, had four Canadian children, 8 Canadian grandchildren, a Canadian great grandchild, practiced law for 15 years as a Canadian, served as a cabinet minister in the British Columbia government and negotiated constitutional matters on its behalf, and then spent 25 years in broadcasting. I have received many honours. During that time I stayed out of jail and I think generally behaved in a manner befitting the description “good citizen”.
Now, the government of Canada has declared that I’m a second-class Canadian.
You may be one too…
I suspect there are thousands that don’t yet realize they are second-class Canadians. I say that because I remember many, many years ago I had an offer to work in the United States and discovered that if my mother claimed the American citizenship she was entitled to because of her father was an American, I could then have claimed citizenship through her. Now, the rule about Canadian second-class citizenship is not just that you may be a dual citizen but that you could be! (Just to show how silly this is, my Mom’s dad was born to English parents passing through Minneapolis to Vancouver, making him a dual citizen!)
In the system under which I was born, and which developed in my lifetime, whether one was born in Canada or not, if they were citizens, unless that citizenship was obtained by fraud, it get could not be revoked. Even then if there was fraud, it took a federal judge to make the decision after a full court hearing, whereas now a decision will be made by a single citizenship officer and there will be no opportunity for a live hearing or an appeal.
It’s said I have nothing to worry about unless I plan to be a terrorist. Why, then, you ask, would an old fart like me be worried about this?
I have every reason to believe that given an opportunity I will qualify quite nicely. Let me tell you how.
One man’s environmentalist is Harper’s terrorist
There is a proposed LNG plant for Squamish and if that proceeds I will join the thousands of my fellow citizens in protest. It is a very short move from there to being branded a terrorist by the Harper government on the basis that Woodfibre LNG, owned by a crook, is a “national undertaking” and that it’s terrorism to obstruct it.
Could that happen in Canada?
Do I really have to ask that question given of the behaviour of the Harper government, especially in the last couple of years? Now, I must admit I don’t plan to wear a veil or convert to Islam or other such “un-Canadian” acts.
One of my problems – and I candidly admit it – is that I am so angry I have trouble keeping my emotions under control.
What did I do to deserve this? How come because my father was born in a country that automatically conferred its citizenship on his children, I become subject to special rules in the country in which I was born and have spent my entire life? By the same token, why should anybody who only took their citizenship yesterday be subjected to this humiliation?
Citizenship is a right…or it’s supposed to be
During my lifetime, citizenship has expanded to the point it has become a right, not a privilege as the government says, and a right which, once earned, is permanent.
At one time, one became a citizen just by being a British subject. But that was rightfully changed, then citizenship was finally granted to people who couldn’t hitherto get it because of their skin colour such as Chinese Canadians, Japanese Canadians and so on. Gadfrey, Daniel! We even “granted” citizenship to First Nations who had been here for millennia. Come to think on that, First Nations are members of two nations – are they dual citizens too? Where will their “terrorists” be deported to? Have these Harper geniuses thought of this?
We eliminated the distinctions between Canadians of recent immigration and those born here. We went all way from a very limited citizenship to an all-inclusive one where we all accepted one another as Canadians no matter where we came from or when.
We accepted people of whatever race, colour or creed without question. At least that was the theory.
Now, for God’s sake, we find that if a woman wears a certain piece of clothing, she is assumed to be about to murder us in our sleep or at least she is supporting people bent up on that!
No longer are our fellow citizens presumed to be peaceful and loyal but quite the opposite if they happen to be, for example, Muslims. If they are Muslims that wear garb consistent with that religion, then, of course, it is almost certain they’re out to get us.
What the hell is happening to Canada?
In my lifetime I have seen us go from a highly restrictive country to one which gradually changed its approach to newcomers to the point where we were all Canadians together, all working to eliminate the discrimination that too often comes with difference.
I look at class pictures of my 8 grandchildren as they’ve grown up and have a feeling of pride seeing the different faces of obvious different origins. I talk to my grandchildren about tolerance and decency and I’m proud of the approach they take.
I have never said nor would I that we must all love one another. Nor am I any better than anyone else – I must fight my own Devils inculcated in me from childhood. But I do fight them and most people I know fight them. So, I daresay, do most of you.
What the hell was the matter with this result? Where is this enormous danger that requires us to turn on Canadians of a different faith than our own and assume they’re about to do the country harm?
I apologize for being so passionate on this issue but after all this time and having reached this stage of life I simply cannot understand what has happened to my citizenship, my country, and so many of my fellow citizens who support people who would destroy the goodwill so carefully and so painstakingly built up over all the years I’ve been alive.
Why am I a second class Canadian?
Will someone please answer that?