Jason Kenney is at it again, tapping into the collective Id of the Canadian unwashed. Last week it was racial undesirables like the Roma, this week it’s dual citizens who commit terrorism, the latter term left deliciously undefined as usual.
Let’s be clear where others are not, to begin with. Kenney isn’t talking about all naturalized citizens—like me, for example—as vulnerable to this new Conservative political spasm. He’s referring to dual-nationality citizens, presumably those who are naturalized here while retaining citizenship somewhere else. Not all naturalized citizens retain their original citizenship, and the Minister does not appear, at this point at least, to be suggesting that anyone should be rendered stateless by a revocation of their Canadian citizenship.
But be that all as it may, the concerns immediately arise in a swarm. What is a terrorist? Who decides? What questions of due process are involved?
Conservatives never think this stuff through—the Id is not where logic resides—so let me suggest that there is plenty of precedent in recent days to flag the dangers. The Harper government has branded environmentalists as terrorists. An idiotic columnist (and she wasn’t alone) suggested that a peaceful hunger strike constituted terrorism. Even the Globe & Mail editorial team, which presents sound arguments against any such legislative initiative, compares Canadian volunteers in the International Brigades who fought fascism in Spain to terrorists. If anything exposes the futility of trying to define terrorism, it has to be that fatuous throwaway comment.
Meanwhile, Harper’s reserve army of pundits has already begun its merry chirping. “Good politics,” enthuses the ever-biddable John Ibbitson.
If a play to popular prejudice with the promise of vague legislation that could be so obviously misused is “good politics,” so be it. But it shows how dangerously debased Canadian political culture has become under a government for whom arousing the darker impulses of the electorate is its preferred form of engagement.