Mr. Speaker, I rise today to add my voice to those of my distinguished colleagues in debating Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.
Within Bill C-6, among other things, the Liberal government is seeking to repeal legislation that would allow citizenship to be revoked from dual citizens who engage in certain acts against the national interest. The type of acts that would warrant someone's citizenship being removed are not loosely defined or a slippery slope, as my colleagues across the floor have implied. Instead, they are clearly defined and limited to convictions for terrorism, high treason, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received, or for membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada. In short, the removal of citizenship for dual nationals only applies to those who show an overwhelming hatred of Canada, Canadian values, and Canadian citizens.
As an immigrant myself and a member of Parliament for a constituency made up of Canadians with rich and various cultural backgrounds, I am deeply upset by the implication that removing citizenship from a convicted terrorist somehow constitutes creating a second tier of Canadian citizenship. My caucus colleagues and I, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, know that there is only one class of Canadian citizens and that all Canadians deserve to be protected from acts of terror. To imply otherwise is an insult to anyone who takes pride in our rich cultural values and freedoms.
I find it deeply troubling that the priority for the Liberal government when it comes to immigration and public safety legislation is to give back citizenship and to protect the rights of Zakaria Amara. To give some context for why this is important, Zakaria Amara was found guilty in a court of law of plotting to murder thousands of innocent Canadians by bombing strategic locations throughout the greater Toronto area and other locations across our country. This man, by both his convictions and actions, showed his hatred for Canada and lack of respect for all those who value their citizenship, who invest in their communities, and call this great nation home.
An act of terror against one Canadian is an act of terror against all Canadians and all future Canadians. I know that my constituents and I feel that deeply. In light of this, I believe that the Liberal government owes Canadians a credible explanation for their decision to offer Canadian citizenship to convicted terrorists, especially while our allies, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and New Zealand, are taking steps to revoke the citizenship of convicted terrorists. Therefore, I ask, why should Canada be so far out of step with our peer countries?
There is nothing inevitable about Canada's future prosperity. The government has an obligation to introduce policies and legislation that live up to the high standards Canadians rightly expect. Under the previous Conservative government, Canada benefited from the highest level of sustained immigration in our history. I am proud to stand on this legacy as a member of Parliament.
I emigrated to Canada as a young man, and I can say with absolute conviction that I understand both the joys and challenges that come as part of transitioning to life in this great nation. It is with this understanding that I would like to speak to another part of Bill C-6, specifically the Liberal proposal to limit the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and one of the official languages for applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.
There is no debate about whether or not those with a low level of proficiency in either English or French outside this range can still contribute to Canadian society. We know that these individuals work hard, care for their families, and are involved in their communities. Yet, I would like to share my own experience as a young immigrant in Canada two decades ago.
When I arrived in Canada, I began working in a factory. At the time, I was shy and spoke very little English, and as a result I had to rely on those around me to help me communicate to both my co-workers and supervisors. One day, I needed help asking my supervisor for some nails to finish the project I was working on. The young man I asked for help responded by demanding that I buy him lunch first. In this way, I was made to purchase lunch for this young man every day just to keep my job. It is because of this experience that I do not support the Liberals' changes to the language requirements.
Learning one of the two official languages is a valuable tool that helps immigrants to successfully transition into their new lives in Canada. Furthermore, it ensures that they are not isolated from the larger Canadian communities, and allows them to both learn and share with others the rich experience and perspectives they bring with them.
In conclusion, my colleagues and I on both sides of the floor recognize the value of calling this great nation home. It is my hope that we can continue to work together to strengthen the integrity of our citizenship, safeguard the security of all Canadians, and enjoy unity within our diversity for generations to come.