Canadian Conservative Refugee Policy

The Baby Killer?


Howard Adelman

Yesterday, I discussed Chris Alexander’s after-the-election defence of Bill C-24 and, in particular, the issue of two classes of citizenship. Today I want to concentrate on his defence of his role as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the Harper government in the formation of its Syrian refugee policy. In the seven minute and forty second interview, most of the time he discussed refugee policy rather than the citizenship issue. Let me offer his interview in as verbatim form as I could manage, and then follow up with my commentary after parsing what he said.

According to Chris Alexander, “We started bringing Syrian refugees to Canada on a large scale in January, but nobody covered it at the time. Somehow it became divisive that we hadn’t brought them all by the middle of the election campaign.”

“This conflict in Syria has been going on for four years and I will say in front of any camera to any journalist that this is the worst conflict of recent times, much worse in terms of loss of life than both Iraq wars, all three Iraq wars if you count the current one, much worse than Afghanistan during our time there in terms of loss of life, and the media coverage, the public attention to it, has been lacking since 2011.”

3. “These are the biggest terrorist organizations in the world. Yes, the international response has been weak because there is no appetite for it after two wars in Iraq and a long campaign in Afghanistan, but we need to pay attention.”

4. “And when these refugees and migrants showed up in Europe in massive numbers, it wasn’t a surprise to me. We have been tracking this, we have been trying to respond, we have been trying to encourage other countries to respond in an organized way resettling larger numbers of refugees to save lives and to ensure that people didn’t have to cross the Mediterranean and lose their lives at great risk.”

5. “But none of that generated any profile. Instead I still get people coming up to me saying you hung up on Carol Off. That’s the story that people insist on telling, that we are cold-hearted Conservatives, that we have never done the right thing.”

6. “And it’s wrong. And you’ve got to look at the facts. You’ve got to look at who showed leadership.”

7. “There are still more Syrian refugees in this country than Barak Obama has brought to the United States. Has anyone covered that fact?”

8. “It’s a question of communication and responding to accusations, absolutely… Certain messages weren’t delivered and certain accusations were allowed to stand.”

9. “We’re still the party that sees reality as it is, doesn’t want to go on some hippy-trippy jaunt down memory lane and put marihuana in the windows of every store. We’re trying to deal with the real issues that Canadians are facing.”

10. “I’ve heard the Liberal leader say that we should not use the word ‘terrorism’ on several occasions. They are just misunderstood people.”

11. “And it pains me as a person who spent six years on behalf of Canada and the United Nations in Afghanistan and who worked two years as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to try to get a better response to Syrian refugees to bring 23,000 Iraqi refugees to Canada. I have never seen one article written about that in this country.”

12. “Cost, safety, operational standards for which Canada is renowned are all issues. We have the best record in the world for refugee resettlement because we do it well, we meet certain standards. We check out who people are. We make sure that human smugglers aren’t involved. We make sure identity theft isn’t involved. We make sure people are whom they say they are. We make sure that criminals don’t benefit from Canada’s generous refugee policies and when you start moving large numbers of people in short periods of time, all of that can be compromised. So I would urge the government to do more on Syria but do it carefully and ensure that Canada’s best traditions and high standards are respected.”

a) Did the Conservatives start bringing Syrian refugees to Canada on a large scale in January?

  1. b) Did they receive no coverage of their activities on behalf of Syrian refugees?
  2. c) Did the issue only become divisive during the election campaign?
  3. d) And was that because the Conservatives had not brought all the refugees to Canada by the middle of the election campaign?

In 2013, Canada pledged to take in 1,300 Syrian refugees over the next twelve months. It took the government 20 months, virtually to the end of 2014. The government promised to bring in only 200 government-sponsored refugees and 1,100 sponsored privately by groups or individuals. However, given the deficiency of visa officers in the field and processing officers in Winnipeg, private sponsorships were taking 12 or more months. In the first eight months of 2013, only 9 Syrian refugees were resettled in Canada. Under pressure from the NDP immigration critic, Alexander kept obfuscating on the number of arrivals, and his inadequate replies received wide coverage.

By mid-2015, Alexander could only confirm that there were 1,297 Syrian refugees physically present in Canada as of July 2 even though 1,012 Syrian refugees made inland claims and were not resettled but arrived here and claimed asylum. Though the pledge to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees over three years was signalled in January 2015, only in the beginning of July of 2015 did Canada announce that it was preparing to substantially increase the number of Syrian refugees this country will accept. The Conservatives planned to bring 10,000 more Syrian refugees over three years, or 3,300 per year. Most of those were expected to be privately sponsored. “To meet those kinds of targets,” Mr. Alexander said, “Ottawa is looking to a broader range of Canadians to step up and privately sponsor asylum seekers.” That announcement was widely covered in the media, but it was an announcement about an announcement, for the formal announcement was not expected to come until late summer or the fall.

The initiative was said to be on a par with “one of our large, national efforts in response to a serious crisis on par with our response to the Vietnamese boat people [60,000 over 18 months when the number of refugees was less than half those from Syria], Idi Amin in Uganda in 1972 [7,000 of the accounted for approximately 43,000 Ugandan Asians expelled by Idi Amin] and the 1956 crackdown in Hungary [37,000 of 200,000 refugees over only six months].” How 3,300 per year of 4 million refugees could be said to be on a par with the numbers Canada took in these other movements is beyond comprehension.

The issue did not become a big one until the picture of the little three-year-old’s body on the beach appeared in all the media around the world at the end of the first week in October, but no one, absolutely no one, criticized the Conservatives for not having brought all the refugees to Canada by the middle of the election campaign. The Conservatives were criticized for the stinginess of their Syrian refugee policy.

2. Chris Alexander did say a number of times that the Syrian conflict was the worst in the last few decades. But to say that the media did not cover the conflict is absolute nonsense. Amelia Smith in her study, “Mapping Syria through media coverage of the conflict,” indicated a number of problems covering the story. Though in 2011, Western media dedicated “a healthy amount of coverage” to Syria’s conflict, and though the new media were used extensively, in the last two years, there has been extensive coverage, contrary to Alexander’s assertion. However, there has been a distinct tendency to reduce the conflict to a battle between ISIS and the Assad regime. Further, there has been too little coverage of the international humanitarian work and of the tremendous refugee burden that Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have born. But all have been covered. However, the most serious problem is the high risk to journalists. Syria has been designated as the most dangerous country for journalists in 2012, 2013, and 2014, somewhat limiting the amount of coverage.

3. Alexander claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS are the biggest terrorist organizations in the world. There are well over 100 terrorist organizations. Hezbollah and Hamas are each larger than ISIS or al-Qaeda. The Taliban may be larger. ISIS may, however, be the most notorious. In any case, the Assad regime has killed many more Syrian civilians than even ISIS.

4. To say that Canada has been a leader in encouraging Syrian refugee resettlement is laughable if it were not so tragic. In terms of witnessing, Canada has settled at most 13,000 refugees worldwide each year over the last three years. Excepting years when we resettled disproportionately high numbers of refugees, Canada generally took 10% of the refugees scheduled by UNHCR for resettlement. The United States takes by far the most. Of the 21,154 Syrian refugees put forward by UNHCR for resettlement in 2014, Canada took barely 1,000 or less than 5%, an appalling figure in comparison to our past historical record. The UNHCR urged countries to resettle only 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016. Canada’s response – not 10,000 per year as would be expected from past practice, but 10,000 over three years. There is no evidence that Canada provided any leadership in advocating higher refugee numbers; practice indicates quite the reverse.

5. No one said that the Conservatives were cold hearted or never did the right thing. The Conservatives were accused of a woefully inadequate response to refugee resettlement though a reasonably humanitarian response to donations overseas re Syrian refugees. Further, late in the game, the Conservatives were commended for finally waving the requirement of UNHCR approval for refugees scheduled for resettlement, of waving the requirement that all forms by private sponsors had to be precisely accurate before they could be considered, for finally greatly increasing the number of visa officers in Lebanon and increasing the processing officers in Winnipeg. But it was all very tardy and seemed to be only a response to enormous pressure.

6. “You’ve got to look at the facts. You’ve got to look at who showed leadership.” If you do, you would have to conclude that it was definitely not the Conservatives.

7. Alexander asserted that Canada took in far more Syrian refugees than Obama ever did. While I think the Obama record on Syrian refugees has been appalling, and by September 2015, the U.S. had only resettled about 1,500 Syrian refugees in total, fewer than Canada, in December 2014, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, Anne Richard, announced that the United States would resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2015. As of 7 October 2015, 19,646 Syrian refugee names had been submitted to the U.S. for resettlement. So although the United States had been very tardy, and though its current response has been very inadequate, it is just not true that Canada took many more Syrian refugees than the U.S. We took more, but not even considerably more let alone many more.

8. Alexander insisted that the problem was inadequate communication on the part of the Conservatives. The problem was inadequate and very tardy response by the Conservatives.

9. “We’re still the party that sees reality as it is, doesn’t want to go on some hippy-trippy jaunt down memory lane and put marihuana in the windows of every store.” In every store window!!! Come on! If Alexander is representative, he not only indicates that the Conservatives do not see reality as it is, but cannot distinguish fact from fiction.

10. Alexander insisted that Justin Trudeau would not use the term ‘terrorism,’ but insisted that the terrorists were just misunderstood people. Perhaps Alexander was not in the House of Commons on 19 February 2015 when Trudeau began his speech as follows: “Mr. Speaker, I do not have to tell anyone in the House today about the threat of terrorism and the fear it can instil within those who have witnessed it. We all remember clearly the feelings we had in October as we heard and learned that an armed man had entered Centre Block with the intent to kill. We are still thankful for the heroism shown by our security services that day in keeping us safe during a difficult and confusing time. Coming as it did only days after another, shameful, attack on members of our military, it was a horrible reminder of the murder in cold blood that some people are capable of committing. No matter the motives, terrorism is designed to make us freeze in fear. It is designed to make us constantly question not only our own safety, but also the democratic institutions we have established to keep us safe. It is designed to make us question what is familiar and to suspect what would normally be insignificant. Terrorism is designed to take us so far that we question everything we have built and everything that is good in our fair, just, and open society. That is the point of terrorism, and it is when we willingly walk over that edge of our own accord that terrorism is ultimately successful.”

Hardly an avoidance of the word “terrorism”.

11. Alexander claimed to never have read one article about the 23,000 Iraqi refugees Canada resettled. Perhaps that is because 23,000 were not resettled. 23,000 was the target by the end of 2015. I guess he had not read on 7 January 2015 the news service reports that sympathetically indicated how the Syrian war hampered Iraqi refugee resettlement, etc. Either Alexander does not look for the reading material, does not read it when he finds it, or cannot read.

12. “Cost, safety, operational standards.” Finally some honesty! These were Alexander’s and the Conservative’s repeated reasons for the tardy and inadequate intake of Syrian refugees. The Conservatives would bring them in, as long as the budget was not burdened. Further, the department of Immigration’s ability to interview, process and resettle those refugee, as well as the ability of settlement agencies and Agreement Holders to perform, had been severely compromised in the effort to balance the budget while lowering taxes.

The next shibboleth was the security issue. But as virtually any scholar knows who has studied the issue, coming to Canada as a refugee is the worst route for a terrorist to seek entry into a country. A refugee is too well documented. Enter as a tourist, as an investor, as a student. The terrorist threat is a red herring when it comes to the admission of refugees. In any case, all the political parties buy into the need for security clearances.

The third factor is the elaborate bureaucratic procedures that now cloud and delay sponsorship under the guise of “operational standards”.

The bottom line: Chris Alexander is a serial exaggerator, a serial distortionist and contortionist, systematically engaging in hyperbole totally unsupported by facts. Canada has not been a “model of humanitarian action.” Far from it. It has been a model of a miserly approach to the Syrian refugee issue.


Second Class Citizenship

Second Class Citizenship


Howard Adelman

Does Bill C-24, “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” mean that dual citizens have become second class citizens? Chris Alexander, the former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the Harper government, lost his Ajax seat in the last election by a landslide, falling short by about 10,000 votes. In contrast to the period when he was in a position of authority and avoided the press like the plague – and then often got in trouble when he met with or talked to the media – after his defeat, Chris Alexander consented to a street interview that was aired on CBC’s Power and Politics. It was a fascinating interview. Alexander vented his spleen in an eloquent and loquacious, even if very faulty, defence of himself as a minister in the Harper government.

The interview, well worth watching, can be heard and seen here:; Please also check Power and Politics.

A number of topics were discussed in that interview, but in this blog I focus on only one, the very first issue that seemed to have gotten under Alexander’s skin during the election. (In a subsequent blog, I will focus on his defence of his record on the Syrian refugee issue.) One of the provisions in Bill C-24 that the Liberals, who supported the legislation, promised to amend when elected, was the circumstances and the method by which the Government of Canada could strip a Canadian of his or her citizenship. (See “Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts,” Bill C-24 that was given royal assent 19 June 2014.)

The criticisms of the revocation of citizenship provision referred to in the House of Commons debates and on the hustlings seemed to irk him the most, though perhaps being called a “baby killer’ in the critique of his handling of the Syrian refugee crisis was emotionally more painful. In any case, Alexander was clearly very bitter about the way that the issue of stripping Canadians of their citizenship became an election issue, the way the item was understood and communicated, and, even, that it became an election issue at all.

There were parts of Bill C-24 that were uncontentious, such as the retention of citizenship for those born abroad to Canadians in service to their government referred to as stateless or lost Canadians. There were also many other parts of Bill C-24 that the opposition parties had criticized, including the extended time it would take under the Bill for an applicant to become a citizen. Thus, for example, under the old legislation an applicant could apply for citizenship after three years of residence in Canada; under the new Citizenship legislation passed by the government, it would take at least four years. For a student who had attended post secondary education in Canada for three years, she must first find a position and then apply for permanent residence. The application process would take a year on top of the three years she had already spent in Canada, assuming she even obtained a permanent job as soon as she graduated. Then and only then would the four year period of required residency start. She would not get credit for the time she studied in Canada or for the time it took for the file to come to the top of the pile. In other words, she would have to be in Canada at least eight years before she became a citizen. None of her previous residence in Canada would count either partially or fully towards the new requisite four years of required residence in Canada.

These and other provisions of the Bill were much criticized in the debate in the House of Commons and subsequently during the election campaign. But the one I want to concentrate on is the one that Chris Alexander offered as his primary item to defend his record as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. In that street scrum, Alexander took issue with the opposition’s campaign focus on the provision in  Bill C-24 that gave the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the authority, unilaterally and without a judicial process, to strip dual citizens of their Canadian citizenship if they were found guilty of terrorism and if they could be deported to another country where they had, or were entitled to have, citizenship.

Alexander harrumphed about even talking about second class citizens. “That concept does not exist in Canadian law. It should not exist in political debate. We did not introduce it into the debate. When it was introduced by the party that won the election, we did not counter it enough. But it is painful to see people stoop to those levels and for it to go unanswered by the other political participants and by commentators and media. We do not have room in elections for poison like that. And people deserve in an election to know what the law actually says, what protections they enjoy in this country, opportunities they enjoy in this country more than almost any other country in the world. That failed to be communicated.”

In his screed, Alexander began on a conceptual level, denying that two classes of citizenship were even applicable to the issue since the provisions in the Citizenship Act do not use that term. He also criticized even the propriety of raising the issue as something to be debated. The Conservatives had not introduced it into the debate and he implied that the opposition was hitting below the belt in making it an issue. He accused the Liberals of introducing the issue into the election, though Tom Mulcair was also a leading opponent. He was critical of his own party for not countering that argument, but he seemed even more critical of the media for taking up the issue. Then he characterized the way the issue was raised as “poison.” Finally, he insisted that Canadians deserve to know what the election law says and what protections Canadians enjoy. As Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, he never assumed responsibility for any failure in communication. That failure belonged in the cloud. “It” failed to be communicated, not, I failed adequately to communicate to the Canadian public.

The whole interview resembled somewhat Richard Nixon’s speech after he lost the election to be President in 1962 when he declared, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” To clarify:

  1. What does Bill C-24 say about the issue?
  2. What protections do Canadians enjoy under the legislation?
  3. Was it “poison” to introduce the issue into the election?
  4. Were the media guilty of taking up the issue, but only by repeating the opposition’s claims rather than clarifying the Tory intent?
  5. Were the Liberals responsible for introducing the issue into the campaign?
  6. Was the issue one that was appropriate to be debated as an election issue?
  7. Is characterizing the issue as one of introducing two classes of citizenship incorrect or even “poison”?

Alexander insisted that, “the people deserve in an election to know what the law actually says.” I agree. So, I believe would every Canadian, whether defending or opposing the law. But try to understand what the law actually says. As the Conservatives wrote it, it is difficult to understand except for those with expertise in Immigration law. And the Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) was adamantly opposed to many sections of the Bill, especially the revocation provisions. (For its detailed critique, see The people in Canada do deserve to know what the law states. But the convoluted prose and the whole style of the writing makes only one thing clear: the law was not intended to be read by the ordinary citizen.

What every Canadian deserves to know, what they can know and what the government helps them know are three very different things. Certainly, Chris Alexander as the ostensible author of the Bill, never made even an effort to state clearly what this provision in Bill-24 said. How did Chris Alexander interpret the Bill, specifically the revocation clauses? Though he did discuss the issue of residency requirements and the broadly supported re-acquiring of citizenship for those who inadvertently lost it, the main divisive issue was revocation.

In the debate when Alexander introduced the Bill for third reading in the House of Commons, he discussed the time line for an application and the residency requirements as well as the restoration of citizenship to children of Canadians born abroad. However, in his speech introducing Bill C-24, he said nothing about the revocation clauses. There was and remains a consensus about what the bill intended. As is currently the case, citizenship can be revoked if it was obtained by fraud, though this has been admittedly a very dragged out process as can be seen even in the cases of alleged former Nazis accused of war crimes. The revocation terms of the law explicitly now included Canadian citizens who served as members of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, were convicted of treason or of a terrorism offence (or an equivalent foreign terrorism conviction) and given a sentence of five years or more, but only provided they were dual citizen and, also, provided that they did not become stateless as a result, for then the law would be in breach of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

As the opposition member and immigration critic, Philip Toone, said in the House of Commons, “The minister can now decide, based on a balance of probabilities, to revoke the citizenship of a Canadian, without that person having the right to appeal, the right to natural justice or the right to present evidence to a judge. Only the minister, in his little office, with documents in front of him, on a mere balance of probabilities, can revoke an individual’s citizenship. It is beyond comprehension why the minister would want such a responsibility, because in our legal system people have the right to be respected. In this case, there is a risk of abusing that right. Once again, why create a situation where rights can be abused?” As he went on to say, the bill will almost certainly be challenged in court and, if the government’s past record is any indication, the Courts will rule that the law is in breach of the rights of citizenship.

Does the Bill introduce two classes of citizenship? Virtually every analysis and critique of the law says that it does. In fact, even the existing law, arguably, can be said to have two classes of citizens, those who acquire citizenship by birthright and those who become naturalized Canadians during their lifetime, except it is argued that those who acquire citizenship by fraud never truly became a citizen. Of course, a charge of false representation is inapplicable to Canadians who enjoy citizenship by birth. The irony is that the new law allowed revocation of citizenship even to Canadians who acquired citizenship by birthright if they, through their parents, enjoy dual nationality or the right to claim dual nationality. Further, the Canadian citizen may not have any real ties to another country even if he or she was born abroad but came to Canada as a young child.

So the law changes the classes of citizenship. Revocation applies to any citizen, whether citizenship is acquired by birth or by nationalization, provided that the person enjoys of could enjoy dual nationality. So it seems unequivocally true that the law creates two classes of citizens by implication. Why does Chris Alexander have a problem in understanding this? Is he obtuse? What something means does not require that meaning to be explicitly articulated if that is its plain meaning.

Further, as the Canadian Bar Associated stated it, “revoking citizenship in other circumstances [than fraud] poses fundamental constitutional challenges. Targeting dual nationals for citizenship revocation results in differential treatment based on ethnicity or national origin and therefore implicates section 15 of the Charter. Canadians from countries that do not recognize dual nationality would not be subject to the provisions. However, Canadians whose ancestors came from countries that recognize dual citizenship and pass citizenship to generations born abroad would face the prospect of revocation. Entire ethnic or national communities would either be subject to the provisions or not. Gradating the rights of Canadians on the basis of the laws of another state creates different classes of citizens. It is unfair and discriminatory.”

The charge of two classes of citizenship was broadly raised by law societies and human rights groups. Thus, for example, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) launched a constitutional challenge to the new Citizenship Act for relegating over one million Canadians to second-class status. The lawsuit argued that the Bill C-24 “creates a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals, whether born abroad or in Canada, and naturalized citizens. These Canadians will now have more limited citizenship rights compared to other Canadians, simply because they or their parents or ancestors were born in another country.” The issue of two classes of citizenship was raised right across the country by law societies and civil rights groups.

The CBA asserted that banishment, that has not been in common use since the Middle Ages, is one of the most serious punishments that can be inflicted on a citizen. Even if it were to be restored, surely it should be undertaken only with the strictest protections. So the biggest conflict was not even over who could be targeted for revocation, but who decides, on what grounds and by what process? In Bill C-24, the decision is placed in the hands of the Minister (or his delegate), thereby leading to the fear of an indiscretionary use of power, particularly since the individual will not have a day in court or even a hearing before being issued a revocation order. Essentially, the Conservatives determined that this process would be less costly and quicker, and this is the core difference between the members of all opposition parties who held the rights of an individual citizen to be the foremost concerns, while the Conservatives believe that the voice of the people, their elected representatives and appointed Ministers should have that power.

Given the uproar over just these two issues – to whom does revocation apply and who makes the decision – who would expect the issue not to be introduced into the election debate. And it was, loudly and forceful by Tom Mulcair as well as Justin Trudeau who was accused by Alexander of being the sole culprit.  So how could anyone who believes in free speech insist that it should not “exist in political debate”? Did the Tories not counter the argument? They did so during the passage of the Bill, subsequent to its passage and during the election. Did they do enough?

Alexander said that Trudeau had introduced the issue just before the televised debate on foreign affairs. Quite aside from whether he did and how he did, it was the Tory government at the end of September that initiated steps to strip Zakania Amara, leader of the Toronto 18, of his citizenship after he pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb downtown Toronto and was sentenced to life imprisonment. As the Harper government put it, Amara, who holds Jordanian citizenship, would be free to walk the streets and travel with a Canadian passport after serving his sentence and Amara would become eligible for parole in 2016. Further, at the beginning of October, the Harper government attempted to strip Saad Gaya of his citizenship though he was born in Canada, arguing that Gaya “retroactively” became a Pakistani citizen.

The opponents of the bill, not just the political opposition parties, charged that the provisions of Bill C-24 on revocation made those born outside Canada, those born in Canada but who had a second citizenship or were able to obtain one, would be open to being stripped of their citizenship. Those critics insisted that such a decision could be made arbitrarily since the law authorized the Minister or his delegate to make the decision on his own. Contrary to the claim that raising the issue was poison, Alexander revealed an even more stubborn mindblindness to the democratic deficit that grew under the Tories. Further, he never adequately defended the provision because it is difficult if not impossible to find a legal justification under contemporary principles of natural law.

As the Immigration caucus of the Law Society of Canada insisted, citizenship is not like a car license that can be revoked for misbehaviour, nor a privilege subject to revocation except where fraud was used to obtain it. Bill C-24, rather than imitating the provisions of other Western countries, was an outlier in its revocation provisions. Once a criminal justice system punishes someone, he should not be subject to double jeopardy. If a person commits fraud and lies to obtain citizenship, then the punishment is directly related to the fraud and can be meted out by the courts. As with all human rights arguments, the issue is not just the alleged terrorists targeted by the law, but other Canadians – one million of them – who could be subject to that law. Dual citizens and people who have immigrated to Canada can have their citizenship taken away while other Canadians cannot. That is the meaning of two classes of citizenship.

What seems clear is, however loquacious and even at times eloquent Alexander was on the issue, what he said obscured issues, deflected any blame and reinforced his self-righteous stance. He proved either that he did not hear or understand the criticism raised, or, more likely even, seemingly was simply incapable of understanding them. Instead of respecting his critics while disagreeing with them, he berated them and insisted their criticisms were initiated for political motives. But evidence suggests his amendments were introduced for political reasons. After all, a majority of Canadians favoured stripping convicted terrorists of their citizenship. Last November, after the killing of a soldier on Parliament Hill and then the killing of the terrorist, a national poll found that just over half of respondents supported new anti-terror legislation and another 22% were critical , but because they wanted Canada to go even further.

Did Alexander truly believe that it is ok to remove the citizenship of Canadian-born Saad Gaya who was convicted of terrorist activities for his role in the Toronto 18? Did he really believe it was proper to retroactively regard him as a Pakistani citizen even though his own parents lost their Pakistani citizenship when they first came to Canada and he was born and raised in Canada? The opposition claimed that the courts would find those provisions in the bill to be null and void. The provision was introduced as a wedge issue to play up the Tory claim that they were strong on terrorism. Are Canadians with another nationality (and those who are eligible to obtain another nationality) now second-class citizens, even if they were born in Canada? Under Bill C-24, their citizenship can be stripped.

So why is Chris Alexander such a sore loser? He just doesn’t get it and never got it.