Evidence of meeting #23 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was child.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Andrew Griffith  Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Rick Stewart  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Nicole Girard  Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

9:35 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

It's probably less than.... I don't know. Do we know what the number is?

It's probably less than 100 so far, but it's still early. It's only four or five weeks, six weeks.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

I would like to give the rest of my time to Ms. Wong.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Okay.

June 16th, 2009 / 9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

Good morning. Thank you very much for coming.

This is a question for Mr. Griffith or any one of you. As you stated in your earlier introduction, Bill C-37 was passed unanimously by both houses of Parliament and then received royal assent on April 17, 2008. Were these issues, which were brought to today's committee, brought up to any of you previously by any of the witnesses you've seen here?

9:40 a.m.

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

Andrew Griffith

Mr. Chair, in response to that question, obviously when we were developing Bill C-37 a number of consultations took place with a number of organizations that have appeared before this committee. All aspects of the bill were discussed during the process of looking at the bill. Of course, the actions of this committee in reviewing the bill also provided an opportunity for members of Parliament and witnesses to comment on the provisions of the bill. The pre-publication period, in terms of the actual detailed regulations related to the bill, also provided another opportunity for stakeholders to review the provisions of the bill and provide comments.

So in a nutshell, yes, there were certainly opportunities for people to provide comments on the different aspects of the bill. And those were also taken into account as the bill made its way through the process.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

In other words, the committee then had already reviewed everything before they presented it to the House and the House unanimously passed it. Am I right to say that?

9:40 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

I think, Mr. Chair, we were all in different jobs when the debate on this took place, so I'm not sure if any of the three of us could speak definitively on what we know about what was said and not said and debated. But I think our review of the record indicates that many of the issues that are currently being discussed, and certainly that were raised in testimony last week, seem to be the same kinds of issues as were under discussion and consideration when this bill was brought forward for deliberation and ultimate passage.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

So in other words, the previous committee should have or could have, by due diligence, reviewed all or raised all of the issues before they actually presented it to the House. Am I right to say that?

9:40 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

I don't think we're going to comment on what the committee should have or should not have done--

9:40 a.m.

Some voices

Oh, oh!

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

I'm new here, and that's why I wanted to know.

9:40 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

--other than to say that I believe the issues were on the table.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

Anyway, can you also tell us more about all the work you've done in order to inform people about the changes caused by Bill C-37? There still seems to be some kind of misunderstanding by some people. Can you elaborate on that, please?

9:40 a.m.

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

Andrew Griffith

One of the things that I think I mentioned earlier is that one of the challenges with Bill C-37 was that we didn't really know exactly how many people were out there to reach. So we truly tried to look at what was the most effective way to reach people when we didn't know the audience. Given that we didn't have that much money, we looked at low-cost ways to do that.

The flag piece was probably using YouTube and the video to generate interest and awareness. We used that to drive interest to our website, where we had specific information in terms of the provisions. We also did a lot of targeted media outreach. It was not only outreach in terms of Canadian media, but also, in particular, with U.S. media, because we know there is a very large expatriate Canadian population there.

If I remember correctly, we got a really good article in the Wall Street Journal and we discovered the number of hits on our website and YouTube spiked tremendously after that one. Apparently for one period of time, it was the most popular downloaded article on the Wall Street Journal. My brother even saw it.

That was the main way to do it. The other thing we tried to do is very much look at the networks of expatriates abroad through our missions abroad. In addition to working closely with our embassy in Washington, we also worked very closely with other heads of mission. Our deputy minister wrote to other heads of mission to inform and allow them to have sessions with their expatriates to help make that.

I think we did a number of things overall. The other element I'd like to highlight is that we also developed a wizard or a self-help tool on our website that is designed to allow people to ask the standard questions and to give them a sense of whether they are citizens or not. We tried a number of these efforts to try to reach as many people as possible.

I think the hit statistics, both in terms of YouTube and our website, have demonstrated that we've been reasonably successful in reaching people. Can we do more? Of course we can do more, but I think overall we did a fairly major effort to reach as many people as possible.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Richmond, BC

How much time do I have, Mr. Chair?