Chapter 16 – A Brief History of the Brief History of Citizenship Revocation in Canada
Four of the men convicted as part of the Toronto 18 prosecution were subject to citizenship revocation on grounds of terrorism. One of the four was born in Canada, and the other three immigrated to Canada and acquired citizenship through naturalization. I situate the politics of the four men’s citizenship revocation in legal and comparative context. Contemporary citizenship revocation policies, especially those invoked in the name of national security, serve both instrumental and symbolic goals. I argue that the citizenship revocation scheme enacted in Canada resonated primarily in the register of symbolic politics and lacked virtually any instrumental value related to national security. Its deployment against four of the Toronto 18 was always, and only, a calculated electoral tactic. I conclude by recounting the case of U.K.-Canadian Jack Letts in order to illustrate how citizenship revocation not only infringes fundamental human rights but is dysfunctional from the vantage point of international relations.