Canada is a country of First Nations and newcomers. People with exceptional skills who are born overseas but who don’t have the opportunities to excel in their homeland look around for alternatives, and many of them think that Canada will be a good fit. They choose us and we choose them. And they arrive with their families and set out to make a life for themselves and their children in a new land. It’s been happening since we first called this land Canada and even before. Most newcomers will aspire to become Canadian citizens but some will be confused by the complex rules that define how to apply. Some of the kids will grow up and will wrongly think they are citizens because no one has told them otherwise. Others will find themselves in a tricky situation. If they take out Canadian citizenship, they’ll be required to give up the citizenship of their homeland; and if they do, they will not have a right to return to visit their parents or grandparents. And so some newcomers will remain as permanent residents. They will work here; they will pay taxes and they will get to feel they belong.
Sometimes the road taken by the newcomers is a rocky one; sometimes they make mistakes; sometimes their kids get into trouble.
In the past, we’ve understood the difficulties faced by newcomers, have sympathized with their circumstances and as long as they didn’t threaten the safety of others we would consider them as equal and permanent members of our community.
But things are about to change drastically. The stakes are going to be raised by a government intent on asserting a law and order agenda whatever the consequences.
Bill C-43, recently introduced by the Conservatives, requires that permanent residents who commit misdemeanours be stripped of their membership and be exiled without any chance to explain any mitigating circumstances to a independent tribunal.
The tough on crime agenda means that the kids who grew up and were educated here may be shipped off to a land they have never known, without an opportunity to explain to a judge what happened.
This is not just. It is simply not just.
If we enact unforgiving laws like this we will soon find that the newcomers that we need will not choose Canada and we will not have the chance to choose them.
Whatever happened our sense of common decency?
Speak out against Bill C-43.
Donald Galloway is the nominated candidate for the Green Party in Victoria and Shadow Cabinet critic for Immigration and Citizenship.