Bill C-37 (Historical)
Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act
An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Jason Kenney Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
April 18th, 2013 / 9:15 a.m.
David Matas Senior Honorary Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada
Thank you very much.
I've prepared a 15-page brief, which I gather has been circulated to the committee. To start, I'll go through the recommendations at the end. I have seen the proposed amendments and they have been helpful.
The brief makes 10 recommendations. The first is that the bill encompass all acts of war or acts of armed conflict rather than just attacks on Canadian Armed Forces. I can see that the amendment picks up that suggestion.
The second proposal is to apply the bill only to citizens of a country other than Canada and not to legal residents of a country other than Canada, when it comes to laws of citizenship. Again, the proposed amendment to the bill picks that up.
The third proposal is to not apply the bill to persons born in Canada whose primary connection is Canada. That's not something in the amendments.
I'll point out that the bill right now could potentially apply to somebody who was born in Canada, has never left Canada, and has no connection with the other country of citizenship other than the fact that, potentially, one of the parents is a citizen and had that citizenship passed on. That parent may never have been to that other country in his or her life and may not speak the language of that country.
We have to think about what would happen if other countries were to pass the same legislation we did. I think we would be dismayed if we found another country shipping to our borders someone who doesn't know English or French, has never been here, and has committed an act of terrorism abroad.
The fourth proposed change is to change the consequences of the acts encompassed by the bill from deemed application for renunciation of citizenship to revocation of citizenship. One of the anomalies of the bill was that it was in a deemed application. The amendment, to a certain extent, corrects that by saying you can't withdraw the application. We still have terminology that doesn't reflect reality. This is not an application for renunciation. It is revocation, and it should be called revocation, simply to use language that conforms to the reality. Another reason, which I will get to later, is that we should have the same procedure for the same consequences.
The result of the different labelling—and this has to do with the fifth recommendation—is that we have different procedures for this type of revocation than we do for other types of revocation. For this type of revocation, which is a deemed renunciation, there would be a decision by the minister and then access to the Federal Court by way of judicial review. For other types of revocation already in the act, the issue goes to the Federal Court on the merits of misrepresentation. It's our position that in both cases the procedure should be the same and should use the same terminology.
We also say—and this is recommendation 6—there should be a removal order issued within the same procedure as the revocation or deemed renunciation. There should be consolidation of proceedings. This government proposed this in Bill C-37 in a previous Parliament. It was also a proposal to a previous government, in Bill C-16, that revocation and removal be consolidated. The way it stands now, if this bill is enacted, you'll have a revocation, but the person will still be in Canada. So there would have to be some consideration of removal procedures.
B'nai Brith has had extensive experience with revocation. Our experience is that revocation alone is not sufficient to deal with the problem the legislation is directed towards. One has to consider removal, and removals have not been working well in conjunction with revocation.
The seventh recommendation is to limit the ground of revocation or deemed renunciation relating to acts of war or armed conflict to personal participation in such an act or membership at the time of war or armed conflict. This component of the law, for membership at least, must be prospective only. Right now we have it, even with the amendment going before the bill, as well as after the bill, and not limited to membership at the time of the armed conflict.
This is an issue that arises very often in immigration, where membership before the act or after the act is sufficient to allow for loss of status, and presumably that jurisprudence would be carried forward here. If somebody is a member before the act or after the act, but not at the time of the act—and particularly if that's the case before this legislation is passed—it would be improper to revoke citizenship or deem renunciation.
The eighth proposal is to provide as an exception to the ground of revocation/deemed renunciation for conviction for having committed an equivalent foreign terrorism offence that the conviction was imposed in disregard of accepted international standards. Again, that's an exception in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for the refugee protection definition. Right now the bill proposes that you could lose status for having committed a foreign terrorism offence, even if there was a conviction for that offence abroad, even where that conviction was imposed in disregard of accepted international standards. The reality is that many repressive governments accuse their opponents of being terrorists, and convict them of being terrorists, when the real crime is being opposed to the repressive government in place, and one has to make some allowance for that.
The ninth proposal would expand the grounds of revocation/deemed renunciation to include complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism, and genocide. Right now we are limited to armed conflict and a few other specifics. We believe the concept applies, and should be applied, to these other grave international human rights offences.
Finally, we propose authorizing revocation/deemed renunciation only where prosecution is not reasonably practical, because revocation/deemed renunciation is a remedy, but for some people who are already living abroad, it doesn't have much of an impact, and prosecution, if it's available, is preferable in terms of its deterrent effect.
May 31st, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.
Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
I'm sure that the minister or members of his staff might be familiar with the organization known as Lost Canadians. My first question is related to that.
Has any part of the operating budget been allocated to deal with the issue of individuals who deserve Canadian citizenship but did not receive it under the flawed Bill C-37? And is the minister looking at any specific solution to this issue?
If you can keep it under 30 seconds, I'd appreciate it.
February 17th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.
Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON
I'm asking on Bill C-4, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-17, Bill C-21, Bill C-22, Bill C-23B, Bill C-30, Bill C-35, Bill C-37, Bill C-38, Bill C-39, Bill C-43, Bill C-48, Bill C-49, Bill C-50, Bill C-51, Bill C-52, Bill C-53C-54, Bill C-59, Bill SS-6, Bill S-7, Bill S-10.
What are the costs? What are the head counts? What are the implications? Why won't you give them to Parliament?
December 14th, 2010 / 9:40 a.m.
Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
December 13th, 2010 / 3:30 p.m.
Nicole Girard Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the invitation to appear before you today. I'm accompanied by Rénald Gilbert and Alain Laurencelle.
Over the course of the next few minutes, l'd like to discuss the citizenship route for adoption in the context of the proposed Bill C-467. I will begin with a brief overview of CIC's role in intercountry adoption.
Intercountry adoption is a three-step process involving the provinces or territories, the country of origin of the child, and the Government of Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada's role is to give the adopted child status to enter Canada, either as a permanent resident or as a citizen.
I'll begin with Bill C-14. The citizenship route for adoption introduced through Bill C-14 was implemented on December 23, 2007. Before these changes were implemented, parents who adopted a child outside Canada first had to bring their child to Canada as a permanent resident and then apply for citizenship, whereas children born outside Canada to Canadian parents were Canadian from birth.
This process meant an additional requirement for children adopted abroad by Canadians and thus treated them differently from children born abroad to Canadians. Bill C-14 aimed to rectify the situation by minimizing the difference in treatment between children born abroad to a Canadian and children born abroad and adopted by a Canadian. As a result of Bill C-14, foreign-born adopted children are able to acquire citizenship directly. This is without having to go through the sponsorship process for permanent residence in Canada.
The direct route to citizenship for adopted children is by grant of citizenship, rather than automatically by operation of law. This ensures that Canada's international obligations with regard to intercounrty adoption and provincial jurisdiction are respected. Throughout the grant approval process, CIC's first priority is to ensure that adoptees are subject to the safeguards aimed at protecting the best interests of the child.
In some parts of the world, child trafficking is a serious concern. Documentation may be non-existent or unreliable, or there may be limited infrastructure existing to support the protection of children, so we have international adoption requirements. For adoptees to be granted citizenship under Bill C-14 and under the Citizenship Act, the adoption must meet four criteria.
These are as follows: the adoption must conform to the laws of the province or country where the adoptive parents live and to the laws of the country where the adoption has taken place, there must be a genuine parent-child relationship, the adoption must be in the best interests of the child, and the adoption must not have taken place for the primary purpose of acquiring Canadian immigration or citizenship status, also known as an adoption of convenience.
The criteria for granting citizenship to foreign-born adopted children of Canadian citizens under the Citizenship Act and Regulations are similar to those for granting permanent resident status to adopted children under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations.
On April 17, 2009, changes to the Citizenship Act were implemented, including a first-generation limit to citizenship by descent to preserve the value of Canadian citizenship by ensuring that citizenship can no longer be passed on endlessly to generations born outside Canada. Since that date, only those who are born or naturalized in Canada are able to pass on citizenship to children born or adopted outside Canada.
To be fair, the first-generation limit on citizenship by descent applies equally to those who are citizens through birth outside Canada to a Canadian parent and to those who become citizens through the direct route to citizenship available to children adopted internationally by a Canadian parent.
The objective of Bill C-14 was to minimize the difference in treatment between children born abroad to a Canadian parent and children born abroad and adopted by a Canadian parent. Applying the first generation equally to both groups continues to minimize the difference in treatment between these two groups.
The exception to the first-generation limit for children of crown servants born abroad, as proposed in Bill C-467, would also apply equally to children adopted by a crown servant. Government fully supports the intent of this bill and recognizes and values the strong contribution, commitment, and sacrifices of crown servants working abroad and of their families. However, Bill C-467, as currently worded, poses some problems with respect to adopted persons. Specifically, the bill proposes to confer citizenship automatically on children adopted abroad by crown servants born or naturalized in Canada, and this is without regard to the international obligations and safeguards that are in place under the current law, the Citizenship Act.
The criteria for grant of citizenship under the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act respect these international obligations. They're there to protect the best interests of the child--for example, to protect against child trafficking--and also to respect provincial jurisdiction on adoptions.
The problem is that under Bill C-467, as it is currently drafted, children adopted abroad by crown servants who are born or naturalized in Canada would no longer need to apply for a grant of citizenship in the current manner, meaning that they wouldn't be subject to the safeguards aimed at protecting the best interests of the child.
For the reasons mentioned, Bill C-467 would have unintended adverse impacts on intercounrty adoption and the best interests of the child. Some amendments would need to be made to the bill in order to ensure that the benefits of Bill C-467 are achieved. In addition, in June 2010 the government also introduced Bill C-37, strengthening the value of the Canadian Citizenship Act. Similar to Bill C-467, Bill C-37 also proposes changes to the crown servant exception to the first-generation limit. Consistent with the objective of Bill C-467, the proposed changes to the crown servant exception in Bill C-37 would ensure that the children of crown servants serving abroad are not disadvantaged by their parents' service to Canada and are able to pass on citizenship to their children born or adopted abroad.
I'd also like to mention briefly that adoptive parents continue to have two options to obtain citizenship on behalf of their adopted children. One is the regular immigration process and the other is naturalization, or the direct citizenship grant route. Parents may still choose to sponsor their child through the immigration process. Those who go through the immigration route and then obtain a regular grant of citizenship will be able to pass on citizenship to any child they may have or adopt outside Canada. This option is available for adoptees and does not apply to children born abroad to a Canadian parent. In this way, adoptees have an option that children born abroad in the first generation to Canadians do not.
Intercountry adoptions are complex, and CIC is working to help parents through the intercountry adoption process. CIC is currently working on improvements to the departmental website to assist parents in navigating the international adoption process.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you. We'll be happy to take your questions.
December 8th, 2010 / 5:10 p.m.
The Chair David Tilson
That appears to be it for the questions from the committee.
I want to thank the three of you for coming. We may ask you to come back. We're actually reviewing Bill C-37 even though it hasn't gone through the House yet, so we'll wait and see.
Thank you very much.
We're going to suspend for a couple of minutes.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
December 8th, 2010 / 5:10 p.m.
Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC
I have a couple of small questions.
First of all, to go back to Mr. Young's question, which was a good one, is it correct, according to my sort of lay assessment of this, that the challenge of Bill C-467 is that it focuses on the children born to crown servants abroad, and the exception that we'll address in Bill C-37 focuses on the status of the parents serving abroad? Is that one of the ways that it catches the full circumstances--because the amendment in Bill C-37 deals with the parents, the actual public servants?
December 8th, 2010 / 5:05 p.m.
Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
No, there would not be, and the reason is that the amendments we've been working on in Bill C-467 would essentially make it align with Bill C-37. In addition, within Bill C-37 there's something called a coordinating amendment. Basically, should Bill C-37 come into effect after Bill C-467, it would supplant Bill C-467 to ensure that this complex piece of legislation, the Citizenship Act, actually works seamlessly. We've designed it in such a way that both could receive royal assent, and it would resolve the situation.
December 8th, 2010 / 5:05 p.m.
December 8th, 2010 / 5:05 p.m.