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


  • Ivana Previsic University of Ottawa
  • Elke Winter University of Ottawa



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.

Author Biographies

Ivana Previsic, University of Ottawa

Ivana Previsic is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Ottawa. Her PhD thesis explores the post-9/11 experiences of Bosnian and Albanian Muslims in Canada.

Elke Winter, University of Ottawa

Dr. Elke Winteris Associate Professor for Sociology at the University of Ottawa, research director of the thematic focus Migration, Ethnic Pluralism and Citizenship at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM). She is the recipient of the Canadian Sociology Association’s John Porter Best Book of the Year Award (for Us, Them, and Others: Pluralism and National Identity in Diverse Societies (University of Toronto Press, 2011) and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.