Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise a second time to speak to this bill, and I will start by saying that this bill is yet another example of the Conservative ideology. There is no need to worry. I can back up what I am saying.
The Conservative ideology is not just the party line or the party's policies. It is also about how they act and how they view society. Since the Conservatives took power—since they got a majority—the House has passed a number of measures, and we have seen a moratorium on sponsorship for parents and grandparents and a decrease in the number of family reunifications, which appears to be a concept that the Conservatives have essentially scrapped, not to mention the punishment of vulnerable refugees.
I remember that one of the very first speeches I made in the House after I was elected was on Bill C-4, which would have enabled government officials to imprison children. The Conservative ideology is not just the party line. This bill would also put children in jail. The Conservative ideology can once again be found in this bill.
The bill does not deal at all with the issue of backlogs. Come to think of it, how did the Conservatives handle that problem? As my colleague explained, they told the 280,000 people who had been waiting to get their Canadian citizenship that they should pack up their bags and go away, then come back some other time and take their place in line.
That is how the Conservatives decided to deal with the backlog. We obviously should not expect the bill to address the problem then, since they already took care of it.
A number of people from my riding have been in my office, feeling desperate because they have been waiting for months, or even years, for their children or parents to be allowed into Canada. Some have been waiting for over two years, which, let me tell you, is very distressing for Canadians. The backlog issue is really not a priority for the Conservatives, let me assure you.
The bill would give the minister the authority to grant or revoke citizenship. A number of my colleagues have already spoken to that. In fact, the bill would create a two-tiered citizenship, something the Conservative government does not find troublesome at all.
The Conservatives spend their time driving a wedge between urban and rural Canadians or between regular and seasonal workers. We all know their style of governance. Nothing that I say will come as a surprise. Everything they do revolves around dividing people and keeping them in the dark to better govern. That is the Conservative ideology. Every time they introduce a new policy in the House they attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Canadians.
This bill creates two classes of citizens, those who are Canadian citizens and those who are dual citizens or who may have been born abroad.
We are creating a double standard where two people guilty of the same offence may get very different sentences. One of those people could wind up in jail while the other, found guilty of having committed the same offence, would lose their Canadian citizenship and maybe even be deported. One never knows with the Conservatives.
We already have the means to punish criminals who have broken the law, means that are beyond the control of the government and the executive branch. There is no need to give the minister the power to personally decide who is guilty and who is not.
What is even more ridiculous is that they do not even abide by the courts' criteria, such as proving an accused's guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, the burden of proof, or “reasonable and probable grounds to believe”. The minister gives himself the right to revoke a person's citizenship on the basis of mere suspicion, without allowing an independent court to review his decision. I must say, out of respect for people who are fighting against a dictatorship in their country, that the Conservatives' intentions are obvious. They want to give themselves all the powers and decide the fate of Canadians.
In his speech, the minister said that the Canadian citizenship was held in high regard before 1977. He even talked about World War II. He wants to bring us back to before 1977, and perhaps even to just after World War II. I knew this was a backward-thinking government, but it is beyond comprehension. They want to take us back to 1950. Now, this is another illustration of the Conservative ideology.
Things have changed since the end of World War II. This is 2014 and the government wants to take us back to before 1977, as the minister said in his speech. Revoking the Canadian citizenship is a huge step backwards on many fronts. I will talk about the constitutionality of this kind of measure, and of this kind of power, which a minister can definitely not give himself. Indeed, according to the Supreme Court of Canada, this is unconstitutional. I am aware of the Conservatives' contempt for our democratic institutions. We know how they have been treating Parliament since they got a majority. They imposed time allocation 70 times. Therefore, they may criticize our motion today, but nobody believes what they are saying.
The Supreme Court was clear about the fact that stripping a person of citizenship is unconstitutional. I would like to read an excerpt from a Supreme Court decision:
The social compact requires the citizen to obey the laws created by the democratic process. But it does not follow that failure to do so nullifies the citizen’s continued membership in the self-governing polity. Indeed, the remedy of imprisonment for a term rather than permanent exile implies our acceptance of continued membership in the social order.
Professor Macklin explained:
In other words, the Supreme Court of Canada stated quite clearly that punishing somebody by depriving them of their constitutional rights, indeed, by denying them all constitutional rights and casting them out in the name of the social contract, is not constitutional.
I clearly recall the first time I spoke in the House about this bill. The minister told me that citizenship existed long before the Supreme Court and that the court did not, in any case, have the right to contradict him. Just as an aside, I understand how disdainful the Conservatives are toward our democracy and the nation's highest institution, but it has been stated quite clearly that revoking someone's citizenship is unconstitutional.
Once again, the Conservatives are going to talk to us about the beauty of Canadian citizenship and our Canadian society, but unfortunately, they will then continue to express contempt for the highest institutions that make this country a democracy and a haven for newcomers. If the Conservatives love their society so much and are so attached to Canadian citizenship, why are they not even able to respect the human rights of Canadians and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?