Justin Trudeau vows to repeal '2-tiered' citizenship law
'Canadians have to know that the government has their back,' Liberal leader says
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says if elected his government will repeal the Conservative government's "two-tiered" citizenship law and that he would do more to help free imprisoned Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
"Liberals believe in a Canada that is united — strong not in spite of its differences, but precisely because of them," Trudeau told an audience at the Jalsa Salana Islamic conference in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday afternoon.
He added that under Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Canadians are being encouraged to be fearful of one another and there has been a decline in refugees coming to Canada, and in citizenship applicants.
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In an accompanying news release, Trudeau said his government would repeal the Conservative government's controversial Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, saying it "devalues Canadian citizenship by creating two classes of citizenship."
"Liberals will guarantee that all Canadians' fundamental rights are respected as guided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," the statement said.
The act became law in June 2014. While several elements of the law remain controversial, a provision that came into effect in May of this year expands the grounds on which the federal government can strip dual nationals of their Canadian citizenship, even if they were born in Canada.
The provision gives the power to revoke citizenship, in some cases, to elected officials and not a federal court.
"There is a suggestion that some of us might be less Canadian than others, a suggestion of who ought to decide who stays or goes from Canada be an elected politician instead of our justice system. I think that's wrong," Trudeau said during his speech.
The changes are currently being challenged in court by a coalition of civil liberties groups.
In a statement, the Conservative candidate for Ajax described Trudeau's remarks as "more evidence that he's just not ready," to be prime minister.
"Canadians know that only Conservatives can be trusted to take action against those who would do Canada harm and stand up for Canadian values," Chris Alexander said.
Harper mishandled Fahmy case, Trudeau says
Trudeau also said he would have done more to intervene in the widely denounced terrorism trial of Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy in Cairo. Despite an international outcry from rights groups, Fahmy — who renounced his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year — was sentenced to three years in prison this morning.
Fahmy's family and legal team have repeatedly called for the Canadian government and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to demand that Fahmy be deported to Canada.
"All Canadians have to know that the government has their back," Trudeau said.
Trudeau went on to thank Muslim community leaders for their efforts combating the radicalization of Canadian youth, a sentiment that Harper also made during an address to the same conference yesterday.
His speech capped a campaign week dominated by the economy. Days earlier, the Liberal leader laid out part of his party's vision for the country's sputtering economy, saying if elected his government would plan to run three years of deficits to invest in infrastructure projects before balancing the budget in the fiscal year 2019-20.
Later on Saturday, Trudeau attended Tamil and Filipino street festivals in the Toronto area.
With files from The Canadian Press