House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizens.

Topics

Public Service
Oral Question Period

November 7th, 2002 / 3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are ramming through bilingualism enforcement measures. The Canadian Alliance is demanding expanded bilingual services in the nation's capital. However bilingualism is a divisive affirmative action program for francophones that discriminates against anglophones. Francophones hold 78% of all civil service jobs designated as bilingual. Last year francophones got 71% of all bilingual jobs and 68% of promotions.

Why is the minister refusing to end systemic discrimination against anglophones in civil service hiring and promotion?

Public Service
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this is the second amazing question from the same member. The last one was about visible minorities in the public service. This time it is about linguistic duality in the public service. The member should perhaps look at the values of Canadians and for what Canadians are ready to fight. Diversity and bilingualism in the public service are among them.

Cuba
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

David Price Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Latin America, Africa and the Francophonie, who is just back from the first Canadian ministerial visit to Cuba since March 1999.

Following this mission, to what extent does Canada feel it has achieved its objectives?

Cuba
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Brome—Missisquoi
Québec

Liberal

Denis Paradis Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa) (Francophonie)

Mr. Speaker, the question is timely. I am indeed just back from Cuba.

One of the issues we raised was tourism. Each year, 400,000 Canadians travel to Cuba.

Another issue we raised with the Cubans was the size of Canada's investment in their country. Canada is the second largest investor in Cuba. We will also put in place agreements so that our SMBs, or small and medium sized businesses, can increase their presence over there.

We also raised the issue of human rights and democracy. In continuing our dialogue, we have agreed to have parliamentary exchanges.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, other than the normal question as to what we are doing for the rest of the week and when we get back, yesterday the leader of the government in the Senate announced in the Senate that on or shortly after November 21 a motion would be introduced in the Senate and in the House of Commons to support the principles of the Kyoto protocol and specific legislation that would bring it into course and effect. She went on to say that some of the provisions would have to be done by way of a bill that would come in the year 2003.

Could the government House leader bring us up to date on the Kyoto package and also advise us if, because of the chaos over there, announcements of what we will be doing will be coming from the Senate? Will that continue in the future?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I cannot help it if the questions being asked of the government in the Senate are better than those being asked of the government by the opposition in the House of Commons. There is very little I can do about improving the quality of questions across the way.

Yes, it is true that we do not intend to have the debate in the House of Commons, out of respect for provincial governments, before November 21. I can confirm that the minister, my colleague, is very respectful of the provincial authorities.

He asked if there would be an implementation bill. If an implementation bill is required, those bills are always introduced after the ratification has taken place, never before, as witnessed by Bill S-2 presently before the House.

On the weekly business statement, today we will continue with Bill C-18, the citizenship legislation, followed by Bill C-17 respecting public safety, which I hope the House will carry shortly.

Tomorrow our first item of business shall be the report stage and third reading, if possible, of Bill C-14 respecting certification of diamonds, otherwise referred to as the Kimberley process. We will then return to bills not completed today.

Next week is a constituency week.

When we return, we will take up the same business where we left off, inserting report stage and third reading of Bill S-2, the tax conventions bill, at the appropriate time after it is reported from committee.

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, November 19 and 20, there will be a take note debate on modernization of procedure.

Tuesday, November 19, will be an allotted day.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, having just made the announcement, I move:

That a take-note debate on proposals for modernization and improvement to the procedures of the House of Commons shall take place for four hours from the ordinary time of daily adjournment on November 19 and resuming at the ordinary time of daily adjournment on November 20, provided that the provisions of Standing Order 53.1 shall apply mutatis mutandis to this debate.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, An Act respecting Canadian citizenship, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Citizenship of Canada Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to take part in the debate on Bill C-18, which deals with Canadian citizenship.

The Bloc Quebecois has always been in favour of a new citizenship act, since the current one dates back to 1977. Twice, the current government attempted to amend this act, first in 1998 with Bill C-63. A year later, in 1999, we had Bill C-16, aimed at modernizing the Citizenship of Canada Act.

The bill before us today, Bill C-18, contains 12 elements that I would like to list by reading the summary. It says, and I quote:

(a) the continued acquisition of citizenship at birth for most persons born in Canada.

The word most means that it will not be the case for everybody.

(b) residence requirements--

I will only make a few comments as I only have 10 minutes, but we agree with this. In the past, the definition was inadequate. We will certainly debate this in committee, but in our view, it is still inadequate although greatly improved.

(c) a new judicial process to revoke the citizenship of a person--

This is a new process. It is a judicial process. It says further:

(d) new authority for the Minister and the Solicitor General of Canada to sign a certificate that commences the proceedings--in which security information may be used--

This is a sure sign we are in the post-September 11 2001 era. The whole aspect of security is being beefed up. On the face of it, we cannot oppose that, but we must be careful, as is the case with other statutes, when trying to deal with people who might be a threat to Canadian security, not to infringe on the rights of other people who have nothing to do with the security of Canada.

Further on it says:

(e) new authority for the Minister to annul the citizenship--

Indeed, in some cases, when we realize that people are a danger for Canadian and Quebec society, we agree. But again, we must be careful. Sometimes, when trying to do something good, we do something bad, no matter how careful we are.

It also stipulates:

(f) new authority for the Governor in Council to refuse to grant citizenship where a person has demonstrated a flagrant and serious disregard for the principles and values underlying a free and democratic society;—

We do not have a problem with that, except that the new authority is granted to the governor in council, meaning the cabinet. It might be an issue of concern to those who promote human rights. We will see how it goes when the bill is scrutinized, but some issues need to be raised.

The summary continues:

(g) new prohibitions and offences with more severe punishment in order to maintain the enactment's integrity;

Nobody can argue with that. It continues:

(h) restricting the transmission of citizenship to persons born abroad of Canadian parents to the first and second generations, with an automatic loss of citizenship at the age of 28 years to those in the second generation who have not resided in Canada;—

Of course, that seems reasonable. Why grant citizenship to someone who has not resided long enough in Canada? There may be a discretionary aspect to this process that needs to be addressed, though. It continues:

(i) lessening the distinctions made between adopted children and children born abroad of Canadian parents for the purpose of the acquisition of citizenship;

There are two categories of children: those who are born abroad and those who are adopted abroad. This is something we may want to discuss, but to which we are not strenuously opposed.

It also says:

(k) a new office of “Citizenship Commissioner”, to replace the former “citizenship judge”, with new functions related to conducting citizenship ceremonies, promoting citizenship and advising the Minister;—

We saw earlier that the government wants to take out some elements of the citizenship examination to bring it to an administrative level. Citizenship judges will now be called citizenship commissioners. There is a purpose for promoting people who used to be called judges to the position of commissioner. The government is thus freeing them from certain duties and is creating another type of duti<y to make it clear to immigrants who become new citizens what they have to do to become good Canadian citizens.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, as Quebeckers, are saying, “We accept this, but here is a word of caution”. However, we noted that some improvements have been made, based on our past demands. Concerning immigrants who become Canadian citizens, in Quebec at least, there are now some documents coming from Quebec, particularly a letter from the premier. It must be pointed out that a portion of immigrants is chosen by the Quebec government, pursuant to an agreement between the Quebec government and the federal government. The portion chosen by Quebec includes so-called regular immigrants. The other portion, which is chosen by the federal government, includes mostly refugees.

Now, there is a twelfth element I would like to elaborate on. Since two colleagues from the Bloc have talked about this previously, I do not want to repeat what they said. This has to do with modernizing the oath of citizenship. Clause 34 refers us to the schedule. As a matter of fact, this is the only element in the schedule, and I will quote it:

From this day forward, I pledge my loyalty and allegiance to Canada and Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, I promise to respect our country's rights and freedoms, to uphold our democratic values, to faithfully observe our laws and fulfil my duties and obligations as a Canadian citizen.

We should compare this with what was said in the past:

I affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Obviously, nobody can be against the observance of the laws and the fulfillment of the duties of the ordinary citizen. What is new here is the word Canada, which has been added. Up to now, the oath used to mention only the Queen. But some Canadian citizens have been wondering about that. Even the Minister of Finance has asked if we should put that back in, but we can see the word successors has been left out. Maybe the finance minister will heave a sigh of relief.

The word I am concerned with right now is Canada. Why? I wonder why the word “Canada” is being used. Ever since the 1995 referendum, the government has had a policy of putting the word Canada everywhere it can. The names of a number of departments have been changed. For example, we now have the Canada Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec. The word Canada has been inserted. We also have VIA Rail Canada and Canada Post.

Many names have been changed in the same way. The Canadian government has advertised about health for example, using the word Canada systematically.

This is all fine and good, but there is a renewed emphasis by the constant repetition of that word. It should also be pointed out that a newcomer who wants to become a Canadian citizen is not treated the same way as other Canadians. People who were born in Canada, in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, do not have to take the oath of allegiance to Canada.

Time flies, and I hope I get the opportunity to answer questions so I can complete my remarks.

Citizenship of Canada Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite never ceases to amaze me. At one point, I even wondered if we were talking about immigration and citizenship or rather the political dimension of Quebec separating from the rest of Canada.

As far as we are concerned, we have before the House a bill dealing with citizenship I hope to have the opportunity to speak to it very soon, but first I want to go over some of the mistakes the member made, and one in particular that is noteworthy.

First, pursuant to the agreement between Quebec and the Government of Canada, the federal government has jurisdiction not only over refugees, as the member just pointed out, but also over all immigration matters, except for independent immigration. That includes family reunification and not only refugees.

Second, every immigrant has the right to apply for Canadian citizenship, whether he or she lives in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. That is a good thing. It shows that we do not have two classes of citizenship in Canada, just one, and so much the better.

Why use the word “Canada”? Because the last time I checked, we were still just one country; coast to coast to coast, we are one country and proud of it. That is the reason why we want this bill to talk about Canadian citizenship and nothing else.

Citizenship of Canada Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I admit I have trouble finding any question in the parliamentary secretary's words. I heard several comments instead.

She has made a distinction I accept in connection with independent immigration, but there is still an emphasis being given. That must not be the only thing in the bill. What I was stressing is continuity.

As for the other aspects, she has said I was restricting myself to political aspects. She did not listen to the beginning of my speech when I read the summary of the bill before us and focused on certain words. She has probably not had the opportunity to read the bill, which is not my problem, but I would invite her to read the summary.

As for the rest, it is a matter of how you look at it. She says “Yes, we will treat Quebeckers the same as other Canadians”, but that is precisely one of the problems we face as Quebeckers. We want to be a distinct society. If in fact there were elements of a distinct society and if that concept really meant something, then perhaps many Quebeckers would say OK, but that is not the problem.

Instead of being an annoyance, this has strengthened my conviction that this bill is not very respectful of Quebec society.

Citizenship of Canada Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the questions and comments period on this bill to point something out to my colleague.

Even if this bill should in principle be endorsed by everyone in this House, it does have some anomalies. We realize however that some ministers--

Citizenship of Canada Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Mr. Speaker, could you call to order the member for Portneuf who keeps interrupting me merely to mouth platitudes?

There are anomalies and let me point out just one of them. It has to do with the whole of issue of children adopted abroad. As we know, pursuant to the civil code, Quebec has jurisdiction over the whole adoption finalization process. In Quebec, our civil code provides that adoptions must be finalized by a Quebec court.

However, under the bill, children adopted abroad by a Canadian citizen will now be able to obtain their citizenship on request, thus bypassing the immigration process.

Does our hon. colleague not agree that the provisions concerning international adoptions run counter to what has been done in Quebec? What is even worse, they violate something very fundamental in Quebec, our civil code.