An Act to amend the Citizenship Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Diane Finley  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Citizenship Act in order to

(a) permit certain persons who lost their Canadian citizenship for specified reasons to have their citizenship restored from the time it was lost;

(b) permit certain persons who, born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, did not acquire Canadian citizenship for specified reasons to become Canadian citizens from the time of their birth;

(c) provide that certain persons born outside Canada to a Canadian parent who was himself or herself born outside Canada do not acquire Canadian citizenship; and

(d) provide for a grant of citizenship, on application, to persons who have always been stateless and meet other specified conditions.

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.

(Bill C-37: On the Order: Government Orders:)

February 14, 2008--Consideration at report stage of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, as reported by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration with amendments--Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 14th, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Norman Doyle Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth and fifth reports of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

The fourth report deals with Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, including amendments.

The fifth report deals with the future House consideration of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act.

I want to commend all members of our committee for their cooperation in putting this bill through committee with very minor amendments.

February 13th, 2008 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

I propose a motion that the following be added to the committee report of Bill C-37 to the House:

That the committee recommend to the House that Bill C-37 be passed at all remaining stages, without further amendment, as soon as possible.

February 13th, 2008 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Norman Doyle

We do have a quorum in the room, so I would ask people to please come to the table.

I want to welcome the departmental officials back to the table once again. I don't believe I'll bother to introduce them again, as they were here on Monday. So welcome, and thank you for coming back again.

We are going to be considering Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act. The departmental officials are here, of course, to help us in that regard.

I want to welcome legislative clerk Mr. Marc Toupin here today as well. Welcome to the table.

Did I hear a point of order?

February 11th, 2008 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Thank you, Mr. Davidson.

I know there may be some other questions, but I think this would be an appropriate time for me to propose a motion.

I propose that on Wednesday, February 13, at 3:30, the witnesses here from Citizenship and Immigration appear before this committee, and that we immediately proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-37 until consideration is completed.

February 11th, 2008 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a couple of points. One of the more notable aspects of Bill C-37 is the first generation born abroad cut-off for citizens to be passed on by descent. That is a big issue.

This cut-off was supported by this committee in a unanimous report. The minister, in her remarks to this committee, stated that she would be guided by a number of principles in drafting this bill. Two of them are that citizenship status should be clear, stable, and not require an application; and that Canadian citizens should have a demonstrated attachment to Canada. This attachment to Canada should apply not only to parents of a child before the child's birth, but also by both parent and child after the child's birth.

There is a process, I understand, that is easily used if the Canadian parent wishes their second-generation child born abroad to have citizenship. The process maintains the principle that an attachment to Canada should be demonstrated by both the parent and the child.

Can you clarify for the committee what this process is and how it respects these principles?

February 11th, 2008 / 5:10 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

The department has already come forward with an information sheet on the significance of the 419. We've been working very closely with the Department of National Defence as well. Their website also contains clarification of the documentation.

But yes, to be as clear as possible, Bill C-37 will resolve this issue in its entirety.

February 11th, 2008 / 5:10 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

The DND 419 is a document that DND never intended to be used as a proof of citizenship. They only issued it for a limited period of time. They only used that document between 1963 and 1979. It doesn't cover the whole period of the 1947 act.

The provision in Bill C-37, in proposed paragraph 3(1)(g), is intended to resolve the problem of the 419 and the confusion that had arisen as a result. If Bill C-37 is passed, the distinction between a 419 and a registration of birth abroad will be eliminated.

February 11th, 2008 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Thank you.

I will be tabling a letter from Mr. Taylor for the record. It shows that he is not very pleased with what is happening with Bill C-37. If that could be dealt with, it would be fine.

February 11th, 2008 / 5:05 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

Thank you.

Yes, this is a matter that has come up a number of times in the past, and actually is a point that the Royal Canadian Legion had asked us to consider. In fact, there's also a reference to the issue in the standing committee's recent report.

Bill C-37 will in effect wipe the slate clean from this issue by making it so that these individuals will be treated as citizens, not only going forward but also retroactively to their birth outside of Canada, in such a way that the nuance around the DND document, or the registration of birth abroad document, becomes moot. So in the vast majority of these cases, they have an RBA--they have a registration of birth abroad--but in the few cases where they do not, Bill C-37 will, as I said, make the issue moot.

February 11th, 2008 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

I see.

Please, can you also address the issue of the DND 419, and the RBA--registration of birth abroad--cards, and how Bill C-37 deals with these issues?

February 11th, 2008 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all for your time and your presentations.

According to Minister Finley, Bill C-37 will deal with about 95% of those people who either lost their citizenship and shouldn't have, or who never had it in the first place but should have. So what about the other 5%? Could you please let us know about that?

February 11th, 2008 / 5 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

Can I just add that this provision will continue under Bill C-37. There's nothing in the bill that alters in any way the provisions of subsection 5(4) of the Citizenship Act.

February 11th, 2008 / 4:55 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

Thank you, Mr. Batters. This issue is covered, actually, in the first issue paper that I spoke about.

Citizenship in Canada was created by Parliament on January 1, 1947. Before that date, individuals in Canada had the status of British subjects with Canadian domicile. So the significance of January 1, 1947, is historical fact. The significance of that date has also been confirmed both by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Benner decision and also more recently by the Federal Court of Appeal in its decision in the Joe Taylor case. So Bill C-37 is continuing that, to recognize that significant historical event that took place on January 1, 1947.

I think it's important to understand, though, that there will be individuals born before 1947, either in Canada or outside of Canada, who will benefit from this bill. These are individuals who did become citizens on January 1, 1947, under that first act, and then subsequently lost their citizenship either because they failed to retain their citizenship or they took out another citizenship and suffered because of the dual citizenship provisions of that 1947 act.

So Bill C-37 will actually assist a number of individuals who became citizens on that day, January 1, 1947.

February 11th, 2008 / 4:45 p.m.
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Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mark Davidson

Bill C-37 gives individuals back their citizenship if they were considered citizens of Canada and lost it for any reason other than revocation for fraud, renunciation as an adult, or failure to retain it in the second or subsequent generation...in the 1977 act.