Ukrainian News | 09Nov2005 | Editorial

CJC urges government to discriminate

The government of Canada is under considerable pressure from the Canadian Jewish Congress and B'nai Brith Canada to maintain its discriminatory citizenship legislation.

Oct. 31, 2005 in the Ottawa Citizen, Ed Morgan, national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress wrote an oped piece calling upon the government to reject the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled "Citizenship Revocation: A Question of Due Process and Respecting Charter Rights".

What Morgan is particularly concerned about is the recommendation that the citizenship revocation process be based upon the criminal standard of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt" instead of the current "balance of probabilities".

The report, which was approved by 10 out of the 12 members of the committee, clearly states that this standard must be applied in order to give naturalized Canadians the legal protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- specifically sections 7 to 14.

Anything less creates two classes of citizenship -- one for those born in Canada -- and another for the 6 million naturalized Canadians.

Morgan argues that "civil revocation cases are not criminal proceedings and the proposed higher evidentiary threshold is inappropriate and unnecessary".

However, in that very same article he very loosely throws around terms like "war criminals" and "Hitler's henchmen" to describe four Second World War cases, (not coincidentally, either ethnic Ukrainians or of Ukrainian geographic origin) who were found guilty "on a balance of probabilities" of having lied upon coming to Canada over 50 years ago.

What Morgan most conveniently omits is that in none of these cases was there any evidence of any individual war crimes proven.

The whole problem with the current citizenship legislation is that it has been used by the government to persecute Ukrainian Canadians and other people of East European origin, without having to provide any evidence of any war crimes whatsoever, nor even bother charging the individuals with any crimes.

But that's exactly what the CJC and B'nai Brith want.

So, today it's Ukrainians, tomorrow it's Arabs and other Muslims, the day after tomorrow -- who knows?

It's precisely because the Charter rights of 6 million naturalized Canadians are at risk that the committee made its recommendations.

It should be noted that the recommendations were approved by all the opposition members as well as the majority of the Liberals on the committee, and received unanimous concurrence from all those members of the House of Common present when the report was presented on June 16, 2005.

Collectively they represent a huge majority of the Canadian population.

Arrayed against this massive representation of Canadians at large are two (albeit powerful) lobby groups who collectively represent less than 01.2 per cent of Canada's population.

But they do have friends in high places. The two ministers directly responsible for revocation cases have very close ties to the CJC. Justice Minister Irwin Cotler served as the CJC's chief counsel during the Deschenes Commission on War Crimes hearings, while his assistant at that time, Jack Silverstone, now works as executive assistant for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe.

One has to wonder how two ministers with such a vested interest in these cases got to these positions?

One also has to fear that the current discriminatory legislation will not be corrected if the minister in charge of introducing new legislation has such close ties with these vested interests.

But it is up to the prime minister and the rest of the governing caucus to take a stand. They must respect the Charter rights of all Canadians and not bow to the vested interests of a miniscule (in terms of population) minority.