Bill C-24 granted the federal government of Canada the option to revoke Canadian citizenship from a dual national who engaged in actions violating the national interest of this nation.
That included high treason, other treason offences, spying offences, membership in an armed force or an organized armed group engaging in armed conflict with Canada’s military — and here’s the reason most often discussed, acts of terrorism.
Zakaria Amara, leader of the so-dubbed Toronto 18, whose plan included the detonation of truck bombs in Toronto’s financial district during rush hour, was the first recipient of Bill C-24’s option to strip Canadian citizenship.
Clearly disturbed by such a provision under federal law was Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Trudeau, prior to the 2015 national vote, stated publicly Liberals would rescind C-24 and that a convicted terrorist in possession of dual citizenship need not worry about the loss of his or her Canadian passport.
After becoming prime minister, one of Trudeau’s first initiatives was the repeal of Bill C-24 and the automatic return of Canadian citizenship to Amara.
While Amara was the most highly profiled benefactor of Justin Trudeau’s “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” mantra, he was not alone.
Asad Ansari and Saad Khalid, also Toronto 18 terrorist members, were informed they would be stripped of citizenship. Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh who was convicted in an Ottawa terrorism plot and sentenced to prison for 24 years, was placed on the list for citizenship revocation.
Australia and the U.K. have laws allowing for the stripping of citizenship of dual nationals engaged in acts of terror and treason. Australia took action in that regard against a particularly troublesome individual last year.
In June of last year, Canada’s federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration tweeted, “thrilled to see Bill C-6 pass in the Senate. Protecting your citizenship is our number 1 priority. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
Protecting whose Canadian citizenship is the number 1 priority? Convicted mass terrorism murderers, or those who plot such acts?
This week’s reporting by Global News’ Stewart Bell concerning Muhammad Ali, a Canadian who pledged his allegiance to ISIS and boasted on social media of having played soccer with a severed head, now “just wants to go back” to Canada and live a quiet life.
WATCH BELOW: Canadian ISIS fighter captured in northern Syria says he wants to return to Canada
The Trudeau government, which had no difficulty passing C-6, protecting convicted dual citizen terrorists from loss of Canadian citizenship, finds itself unsure what to do with returning ISIS terrorists, even though the act of leaving Canada to join a terror group is a violation of the Criminal Code.
What will Canada do with individuals charged with terrorism, or having joined a terrorist organization, but who have spent no time, or virtually no time in Canada throughout their lives?
Will Canadian citizenship, obtained through one parent, offer Canada’s protection and open the door to this nation not sure about what to do with him or her?
That is the story of Jack Letts, aka Jihadi Jack. Letts’ father John is Canadian, his mother is British. Letts has likely spent more time in the company of ISIS in Raqqa than he has in Canada.
I will be playing back a portion of my exclusive interview with John Letts this weekend.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.