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Today We Need to Understand Citizenship as a Far More Complex Phenomenon Than Did the Ancients. Discuss in Light of Some of the More Significant Developments in Canadian Political Culture

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Today we need to understand citizenship as a far more complex phenomenon than did the ancients. Discuss in light of some of the more significant developments in Canadian political culture.

Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law as being a member of a state. A person may have multiple citizenships and a person who does not have citizenship of any state is said to be stateless. Citizenship, as has generally been identified as a western phenomenon, was generated in the early city-states of ancient Greece. The first form of citizenship was based on the way people lived in the ancient Greek times, in small-scale organic communities of the polis. Citizenship was not seen as a separate activity from the private life of the individual person, in the sense that there was not a distinction between public and private life.

However, there are wide differences between ancient conceptions of citizenship and modern ones. While the modern one still respects the idea of participation in the political process, it is usually done through elaborate systems of political representation at a distance such as representative democracy, and carried out under the shadow of a permanent professional administrative apparatus. Unlike the ancient patterns, modern citizenship is much more passive; action is delegated to others; citizenship is often a constraint on acting, not an impetus to act. Nevertheless, citizens are aware of their obligations to authorities, and they are aware that these bonds limit their personal political autonomy in a quite profound manner.

According to Canadian nationality law, Canadian nationality is typically obtained by birth in Canada, birth abroad when at least one parent is a Canadian citizen or by adoption by at least one Canadian citizen. It can also be granted to a permanent resident who has lived in Canada for a period of time. Canadian nationality law was substantially revised again on 15 February 1977, when the new "Citizenship Act" came into force. From that date, multiple citizenship became legal. However, those who had lost Canadian citizenship before that date did not automatically have it restored until 17 April 2009, when Bill C-37 became law. The 2009 act, limited the issuance of citizenship to children born outside Canada to Canadian ancestors to one generation abroad. This act changed the rules for Canadian citizenship. Individuals born outside of Canada can now become Canadian citizens by descent if one of their parents is a citizen of Canada either by having been born in Canada or by naturalization. The new law limits citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada. One of the changes instituted by the Government of Canada is the "first generation limitation", considered a punitive measure by some against naturalized citizens who reside abroad for lengthy periods of time. On June 19, 2014, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act received Royal Assent and became law. The changes are the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act since 1977 with a range of legislative amendments to further improve the citizenship program. A number of changes came into effect on June 19, 2014, including fast-tracking citizenship for members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and improving clarity on the first generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad. Since winning power in 2006 the Conservatives have moved away from the idea of letting in people based on their “talent for citizenship” to admitting workers with job offers. On January 1st the government moved further in that direction. A new “Express Entry system” greatly increases the weight given to offers of employment for people applying to become permanent residents. But now, in terms of the immigration and citizenship policy, the changes deal with earlier problems by requiring that applicants prove in advance that their credentials are recognised in Canada and by obliging employers to show in advance that no eligible Canadian is available for the job. The new scheme lowers Canada’s age targets: applicants in their 20s get maximum points for age. Canada’s new dream immigrant is younger, more polyglot, has already worked longer in Canada than the older version and, unlike him or her, has a job offer. One former minister praises the Conservatives for transforming the immigration department into a giant manpower agency. Moreover, under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, Canadian citizenship can now be revoked from dual citizens for taking up arms against Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, whether as a member of a foreign army or in non-state terrorist groups like ISIS. To sum up, the citizenship policy evolves with the time and generally, it can contribute to the building of a better Canada.


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