Edmonton Lawmaker Exposes Racism of Conservative Candidate and Bill C-24

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Edmonton Lawmaker Exposes Racism of Conservative Candidate and Bill C-24

Ubaka Obogu, a professor of law at the University of Alberta, is the epitome of the Canadian immigrant success story. Hailing from Nigeria, a country in which opportunities are limited and the rule of law is frequently flouted by corruption and violence, he has established himself as a man of learning and education who helps many in Alberta and Canada at large receive the legal education they need to help keep our society strong, fair, and just. He has raised a family here, with his daughters natural-born Canadian citizens, though he and they hold dual-citizenship with Nigeria.

In his capacity as a law professor and given his status as a dual-citizenship immigrant to Canada, he was eager to discuss Bill C-24 with James Cumming, the current Tory candidate to serve in Parliament representing Edmonton Centre. This bill, called the "Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act" by its proponents, would allow the government to revoke already-granted citizenship to any dual citizens who are convicted of serious crimes such as terrorism.

In effect, it means that anyone holding dual citizenship in Canada doesn't have full Canadian citizenship—there is always the potential that, if caught up in an investigation, they could have their citizenship revoked and find themselves being deported to another country. That's something natural-born Canadians need never fear, and it draws a clear line between populations that were born here and that of the many immigrants and their families who have helped make modern Canada what it is.

Ogobu raised this issue in his discussion with Cumming by noting that his daughters, who were born in Canada, could still be deported to Nigeria simply if he, their father, were convicted of a crime. In response, Cumming allegedly told this long-time Edmonton resident and respected law professor that he should "renounce his heritage" if he was scared of this possibility. When a somewhat shocked Ogubu pressed Cumming for clarification, he allegedly repeated the phrase in what Ogubu calls "a moment of real honesty."

Cumming now denies saying that anyone should "renounce their heritage" if they fear the effects of Bill C-24, and to be clear I fully support Cumming's right to say whatever he feels—in fact, that's a quality I support in all politicians yet see all too rarely. Whether or not he said it, though, it is more clearly illustrative of the real message behind this bill: we as Canadians, according to certain Conservative elements, need to fear outsiders, need to keep them separate, and need to be ready to send them out of Canada if we feel they're getting out of hand.

It's racism and xenophobia, plain and simple.

Cumming himself is only a second-generation Canadian just like Ogobu's daughters, his parents having been born in the United Kingdom. Somehow he is more fully Canadian than Ogobu and his daughters, though—there's no way to support Bill C-24 and not make the distinction.

I'm of the belief that Canada is made stronger by our immigrant population. I'm tempted to say it would be made stronger by deporting most Conservatives, but that would be a statement made in frustrated jest rather than in earnestness—differences of opinion and perspective must be respected and protected if we are to have a free and robust society.

If you need a lawyer and feel the same, give me a call.