Citizenship Revocation in the Mainstream Press: A Case of Re-ethnicization?

Ivana Previsic, Elke Winter


Under the government of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party (2006-2015), Canada witnessed numerous alterations of its immigration and citizenship rules. Under the new Citizenship Act (2014), dual citizens who have committed high treason, terrorism or espionage could lose their Canadian citizenship. In this paper, we examine how the measure was discussed in Canada’s mainstream newspapers. We ask: who/what is seen as the target of citizenship revocation? What does this tell us about the direction that Canadian citizenship is moving towards? As promoters of civic literacy, mainstream media disseminate information about government actions and legislation, interpret policies and are highly influential in forming public opinion. Our findings show that the newspapers were more often critical than supportive of the citizenship revocation provision. However, they also interpreted the measure as only likely to affect Canadian Muslims in general and omitted discussing the involvement of non-Muslim and, in particular, white, Western-origin Canadians in terrorist acts. Thus, despite advocating for equal citizenship in principle, Canadian Muslims were nonetheless constructed as less Canadian.

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