Friday, November 13, 2009

O Canada, MP Jason Kenney stands on guard for thee

The current Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, is like a fresh breeze in Ottawa. The new 62-page guidebook, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, is but the latest in a series of welcome measures taken by Mr. Kenney to address weaknesses in the process of immigrating to Canada and becoming a citizen.

Newcomers aged 18 to 54 will use the new guidebook to prepare for their citizenship test. A great improvement over the minimal, virtually trivial, practice of the past. At last, we have begun to stress responsibilities of citizenship; not just benefits and rights. The booklet will also be made available to schools, which I believe is a terrific idea. I’ve downloaded a copy for myself.

When I became a citizen, the only requirement of me was to turn up, prove I’d been a landed immigrant for five years and take an oath of citizenship. My dog at that time, Spike, could just as easily have qualified, though he might have stumbled a bit on the oath—he never was a fan of the Queen.

I my world, I’d increase the minimum continuous residency requirement to five years (three years for a spouse of a Canadian citizen). Absences of three months or less from Canada per year would not break the continuous residency requirement; longer absences, however, would. Exemptions could be made for those serving Canada in its armed services or foreign service.

I’d also want some guard against the “citizenship of convenience” we saw recently during the last war in Lebanon. Enough of making a mockery of our citizenship and playing taxpaying Canadians for suckers.

And I’d make citizenship a requirement of long-term residency in Canada. Only citizens can vote in provincial and federal elections, so I believe all long-term residents should obtain citizenship so they can vote in every election. I’d give immigrants up to 10 years to obtain citizenship or they’d have to leave our country.

I’d make citizenship a requirement for most federal civil service jobs—and I’d classify employment at federal crown corporations on the same basis.

Finally, I’d revoke citizenship of any Canadian found guilty of a serious crime involving two or more years in a penitentiary. There would be, of course, some reasonable mechanism to allow former convicts to re-earn their citizenship.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Kenney.

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