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.

Sponsor

Jason Kenney  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 10, 2010
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to

(a) allow certain persons who would be citizens but for the death of a parent to become citizens;

(b) allow the grandchildren of Canadians who have served abroad in or with the Canadian armed forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province, otherwise than as a locally engaged person, to be citizens by descent or, if the grandchildren are adopted, to be eligible for citizenship under section 5.1;

(c) clarify the rule that citizenship may not be acquired after the first generation either by descent or, in the case of an adopted person, by way of a grant under section 5.1;

(d) clarify that, in most cases, applicants for citizenship must be physically present in Canada for a specified period immediately before their application;

(e) provide for a new judicial process to revoke the citizenship of a person who has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances;

(f) provide for the opportunity to seek, in the context of the new judicial process, a declaration of inadmissibility leading to the deportation of the person whose citizenship is revoked;

(g) provide for the regulation of third-party involvement in the citizenship process;

(h) expand the prohibitions with respect to grants of citizenship to include convictions for and ongoing criminal proceedings with respect to foreign offences, as well as sentences served outside Canada; and

(i) provide for new offences, increase penalties and amend the limitation period.

It also makes consequential amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

April 18th, 2013 / 9:15 a.m.
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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.
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Liberal

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.
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Liberal

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.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Nicole Girard

No. The Bill C-37 under review will not change the equitable treatment between children adopted abroad who take the direct route to citizenship and children born to Canadians abroad.

December 13th, 2010 / 3:30 p.m.
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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.
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Conservative

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.
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Liberal

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.
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Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Andrew Griffith

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.
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Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll be following up on what Mr. Young just said.

Given that the two bills contain similar provisions for Canadian soldiers and crown servants, would there be any issue at all if both Bill C-467 and Bill C-37 received royal assent?

December 8th, 2010 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Terence Young Oakville, ON

Does Bill C-37 reflect the changes that would be needed to accomplish the same thing?

December 8th, 2010 / 4:50 p.m.
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Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Andrew Griffith

We haven't really seen that. When we look at the current bill as well as the provisions of Bill C-37 that are aimed at the crown servants and that have the first generation--we're essentially looking at New Zealand and the U.K.--we see that it's really focused on the crown servants. Again, it's the principle that they're employed by the government to do the government's work, which is to serve the people of the country, so they're the ones we look after.

We haven't done a further check to see if there are other people who are covered there, but when we look at the actual provisions, we can see that this is very narrowly written for crown servants, like the way that we would propose amendments to this bill or as written in Bill C-37.

December 8th, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Griffith.

I'd like to first start with a question that has come up a couple of times. The intent of this private member's bill, and of the element of Bill C-37 that achieves a similar goal, is basically to say that for someone serving Canada who is working as a crown employee--military and such--outside of Canada, when they have kids, it's as if they had kids in Canada, on Canadian soil. Is that basically the core of the issue?

December 8th, 2010 / 4:20 p.m.
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Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Andrew Griffith

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for the invitation to appear before you today.

My name is Andrew Griffith. I am the director general of the citizenship and multiculturalism branch, as you mentioned, and I'm accompanied by my team, Nicole Girard and Alain Laurencelle.

I am pleased to be here to discuss Bill C-467, a private member's bill.

Over the course of the next few minutes, I would like to briefly review the changes made in the Citizenship Act of 2009, which implemented a first-generation limit on citizenship for those born abroad, and I will briefly describe what Bill C-467 proposes in relation to those changes. I will also outline some changes that we believe are needed to ensure the current bill achieves its intent.

Let me begin by talking about the changes that were made to the Citizenship Act in 2009. These changes gave a restored citizenship to most “lost Canadians”, persons who lost or never had citizenship.

Also introduced at this time was a first generation limit to citizenship by descent for those born abroad. The intent of this limit was to protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future and to ensure citizens have a connection to Canada.

These changes meant that children born to Canadian parents in the first generation outside Canada would be Canadian at birth only if one parent was born in Canada, or one parent became a Canadian citizen by immigrating to Canada and later being granted citizenship, or naturalized.

These changes also include an exception to ensure that children born or adopted outside Canada to a parent serving abroad with the Canadian armed forces, the federal public administration, or provincial public service would be citizens, even if they were born outside Canada, in the second or subsequent generation. However, like all children born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, children of crown servants cannot pass on citizenship to children they might have or adopt abroad as a result of the first-generation limit.

Other countries with a first generation limit, like the United Kingdom and New Zealand, have dealt with this issue differently by ensuring that children born abroad to crown servants are able to pass on citizenship to their children born or adopted abroad. This is what Bill C-467 seeks to do.

Bill C-467 proposed to treat children born abroad or adopted outside Canada by crown servants and Canadian Forces personnel as children born in Canada, such that they would be able to pass on citizenship to any children they may have or adopt abroad. The government fully supports the intent of this bill in that it recognizes and values the strong contributions, commitment, and sacrifice of crown servants working abroad and of their families.

Crown servants, including our military, work to serve Canadians abroad. Crown servants serving abroad demonstrate ongoing attachment to Canada in several ways.

First, they are considered residents of Canada.

Second, crown servants pay Canadian taxes while serving abroad.

Third, they rotate regularly back to Canada. This is different from the situation of Canadian expatriates who in many cases are not considered residents of Canada, do not pay Canadian taxes, and may or may not regularly rotate back to Canada.

All of these things demonstrate a strong ongoing connection to Canada.

The government does, however, have concerns with the bill, as it is currently drafted, since it does not achieve its intended objective and would have unintended consequences. I now want to briefly outline these concerns.

As I have said, the intent of Bill C-467 is to enable the children of crown servants to pass on citizenship to any children they have or adopt outside Canada. As currently drafted, however, it does not enable the children of crown servants to pass on citizenship.

At the same time, the bill removes the section of the act that currently provides an exception to the first-generation limit for children born abroad in the second and subsequent generations. Effectively, this would deny citizenship to the children of crown servants in situations where the crown servant parent was also born abroad to a Canadian parent.

The bill also poses problems with respect to adopted persons. Specifically, the bill proposes to confer citizenship automatically to children adopted abroad by crown servants who are born or naturalized in Canada, without regard to the international obligations and requirements under the current law.

The current act already allows anyone who is born abroad and adopted by a Canadian parent who was born in Canada, whether or not that parent is a crown servant, to apply for a grant and become a citizen. The criteria for such a grant respect the international obligations that are there to protect the best interests of the child: for example, to protect against child trafficking and to respect provincial jurisdiction on adoptions.

The problem is that under Bill C-467, children adopted abroad by crown servants would no longer need to apply for a grant in the current manner, meaning they would no longer be subject to the safeguards aimed at protecting the best interests of the child.

For the reasons I have just outlined, Bill C-467 does not achieve its intended objective and would have negative unintended consequences.

The changes, however, that would be required to ensure the benefits of Bill C-467 are achieved would be relatively minor. The intent of the bill could be achieved by expanding the current exemption to ensure the children of crown servants, including the Canadian Forces, like children born in Canada, would be able to pass on citizenship to any children they have or adopt outside of Canada. Recognizing their sacrifice, commitment, and strong connection to Canada, there should be no questions about the citizenship of their children, no matter where they are born.

Just to add to this, Mr. Chairman, in June 2010, of course, as people know, the government did introduce Bill C-37, the Strengthening the Value of Canadian Citizenship Act. This bill contains a number of amendments that would strengthen the process of applying for citizenship, improve measures to address citizenship fraud, and streamline the revocation process.

Specifically, Bill C-37 proposes to: add legal authority to regulate citizenship consultants and to crack down where they help people gain citizenship fraudulently; increase penalties for fraud; strengthen residency requirements to require a physical presence; improve the government's ability to bar criminals from becoming citizens; and ensure the law supports the implementation of the first-generation limit.

Similar to Bill C-467, Bill C-37 also proposes changes to the current 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.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak before you. I would be happy to take any questions you may have.

December 8th, 2010 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Well, I'd be less than candid with you if I said to you that I've read every clause in Bill C-37 that impacts my bill, or that I've looked as a lawyer would at the amendments you've proposed. I simply have faith in the civil servants when they come and tell you that a particular amendment has certain consequences.

If the legal analysts are correct, I'm happy with either Bill C-467 passing or Bill C-37 passing. I have no preference. I really have no possession of this particular issue.

December 8th, 2010 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Thanks, Ujjal.

The question that I was really leading to was on the fact that obviously we want to ensure the objective that children of Canadian soldiers and other crown servants are able to pass citizenship on. I think that from the meetings we've had and the work done by the ministry in working with you on it, we've established that while there will be some amendments to the bill, it in fact will meet the intent that you want it to.

Obviously, Bill C-37 is going to be coming to the committee. We know that it's on its way through the House, amongst a number of other bills. Obviously it addresses the same issues that you've highlighted. I want to ask you outright: are you comfortable working under the guise of Bill C-37 as well? Because obviously in its attempt to address these issues, it's very similar to what you're proposing.