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


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


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.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

November 4th, 2022 / 1:40 p.m.
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Blake Desjarlais NDP Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-245. I want to extend my thanks to my hon. colleague from the Bloc Québécois who just spoke.

The New Democrats vote in favour of policies that are good for Canadians and will, of course, oppose those that do not. This is one of the bills that the New Democrats do stand in favour of.

This bill would fix a very old problem in Canada that has contributed to the pain and suffering of families on a really basic question of who they are and of their identities. It is a shame that our country has done this, and it is now time that we remedy it. However, the bill must go much further.

Indigenous people in Canada have long welcomed folks from other parts of the world so that they may find refuge, peace and prosperity here in our lands. That has been the promise of indigenous people to others for generations. However, that promise is foregone and broken when policies, particularly of this place, break that solemn commitment and force people into the worst states they can imagine. Sometimes they are deported or, worse, pass away.

Today we are talking about those lost Canadians, individuals who have been stripped of their Canadian citizenship because of arcane provisions. That is not to say this bill would fix all of Canada's immigration problems, of which there are many. It is simply a fix for an amendment that took place in 1977.

The Prime Minister has said, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” However, this is sadly not the reality for lost Canadians. Our laws continue to enforce a tiered approach to citizenship. According to the United Nations, Canada is a leading offender of making citizens stateless, and this is simply unacceptable.

It is long past time for Canada to right these wrongs by fixing our laws so that nobody is forced to once again lose their Canadian citizenship. Bill S-245 is a step in the right direction. It is a step that the New Democrats have called for and fully support. However, this legislation leaves many behind and does not go far enough. What we need is to fix the issue of lost Canadians once and for all.

Bill S-245 seeks to fix the long-standing issue of the age 28 rule. What is the age 28 rule? The age 28 rule was introduced, as I mentioned, in 1977 in the Citizenship Act, and it meant that second-generation Canadians born abroad had to reaffirm their citizenship status before their 28th birthday. It seems simple enough, but here is the catch: The government never published a retention form. It also never instructed those individuals that they had to reaffirm, and those affected were never told a retention requirement even existed, which is a shame.

Imagine someone who has been a Canadian citizen for their entire life. They shop in grocery stores in their community, send their kids to school, go to community plays and do all the things that everyone else in the community is doing. However, terribly enough, they are sent away to a police station and are informed they no longer have citizenship. This in fact happened here in Canada.

In 2015, Pete Giesbrecht of Manitoba was sent to the police and informed that he had just 30 days to leave the country or he would be deported. This caused shock and disbelief. Even when reading the words today I am shocked. He had carried his citizenship for 29 years and had lived in Canada since he was seven years old. However, because he was born in Mexico to Canadian parents who were also born abroad, the age 28 rule applied.

To regain his citizenship, his Canadian-born wife sponsored him and spent thousands of dollars on legal fees. No one should ever have to go through this. However, because of convoluted and arcane provisions in the Canadian immigration laws, people in this country have been unjustly stripped of their citizenship, an injustice that must end.

New Democrats have raised this issue for years, but successive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to address the issue. The Conservatives have even managed to make the situation worse. The Conservatives said they were going to fix this issue when they were in government and introduced a bill entitled Bill C-37 over a decade ago. The bill did remove the age 28 rule. That was very good, but it was not applied going forward. Therefore, it did not allow Canadians who had already lost their citizenship to regain it. Those who turned 28 prior to 2009 were simply left behind.

When Bill C-37 was introduced, the Conservatives had an opportunity to help lost Canadians and fix this problem, the problem we are debating here today. However, the bill failed to close the gaps in our laws for thousands. Even worse, it created a two-tier system of citizenship, with second-generation born Canadians losing their ability to pass on citizenship to their children altogether. It was a shame. This is simply discriminatory and wrong.

In fact, today's legislation is the subject of a charter challenge calling on the government to change these discriminatory practices. Bill S-245, as presented, would leave these Canadians behind again. New Democrats will be putting forth amendments to finally address these outstanding issues, and I call on my colleagues and members of the House to look at these amendments and to truly help us fix this system and to stop the second generation cut-off so that second-generation Canadians born abroad can continue to pass on their citizenship to children, a very basic part of their family's identity and reunification.

There are also war heroes who have been left out. The first Governor General of Canada in 1867, right after Confederation, said that they had just created a new nationality called Canadian citizenship, yet according to Canada's immigration laws, Canadian citizenship did not exist prior to January 1, 1947. That means no soldiers who fought and died for Canada in battles like Vimy Ridge or D-Day are Canadian. Bill C-37 failed to fix this. In reference to Bill C-37, Don Chaplain said, on February 7, 2014, “And the government has confirmed they’re leaving out all the war dead [pre-1947]. So, the war dead in Canada were really just British. We might as well just scratch the Maple Leaf off their headstones”. It would be fitting to recognize these hero soldiers as having been Canadian soldiers, especially when, in law, they were.

It is time that we truly address the backlog of over 1.8 million applications. It was just mentioned in this debate that, when we are talking about immigration in Canada, we have to take a sympathetic and compassionate approach to ensure families and communities, and particularly children, are protected. When we talk about making sure our immigration system is robust and strong, it also means looking at and addressing the issues of the past. These hundreds of Canadians who no longer have their citizenship deserve to have the dignity that comes with being Canadian, and that includes the protections of our Constitution and our charter.

To be a Canadian citizen is truly a blessing, and one that indigenous people for generations have fought to ensure is a right that is strong and recognized. This has to be protected for all persons, and particularly those lost Canadians who continue every day to struggle without these basic human rights.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise to speak. Some issues I really enjoy having the opportunity to talk about because I can relate them to my constituency. In this case, I can relate it not only to my constituency, but to having been a former critic of citizenship and immigration for the Liberal Party when it was in opposition as the third party and being very familiar with Minister Kenney, even though I was not around when he made that specific change.

I want to share a few thoughts. One is directly on the issue before us and another on citizenship in general.

The member across the way gave a personal experience, and that is great. We can really learn a lot when members share personal stories of how something affected them. I appreciated what my colleague from York Centre had to say. It really makes the issue relatively simple to understand.

Let us say the member for York Centre, a Canadian, has a child in Israel. Two years later, that child lives in Canada with the member. The member then has a second daughter, who is born in Canada. The only difference between her two daughters is that one spent the first two years of her life in Israel. Imagine that her two daughters are growing up and, for whatever reason, maybe one of them decides to leave Canada and spend some time in Paris, a wonderful city no doubt. If it happens to be the member's first daughter and that daughter has a child in Paris, that child would not be a Canadian citizen, whereas if her second child were to move to Paris and have a child, that child would be a Canadian citizen.

That is not necessarily an anomaly. A number of those situations have arisen because of legislation, which has already been referred to, Bill C-37, that the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper brought in and passed. Many people are in that position and, sadly, as the former speaker just highlighted, would not even know it. They would be going along in their own way thinking they are Canadian citizens until a day when maybe they need to communicate with the federal government, perhaps about a passport or some other issue that would require citizenship, and then it might come to the surface that they are a second generation and, therefore, should not have Canadian citizenship. The Canadian citizenship would then be taken away.

I do not think anyone among us would deny the opportunity for the member for York Centre's first-born daughter to move to Paris and spend a few years or however long there. Not having her child classified as a Canadian citizen would be unfair.

In looking at the legislation today, it is interesting, but we need to recognize that ministerial discretionary authority is already in place. I could not say with 100% certainty how all-encompassing it is, but from what I understand, there are dozens of cases of lost Canadians that the minister is able to deal with. I am very encouraged by that because I was not aware of that happening when I was the critic for immigration and citizenship for the Liberal Party when it had third party status. I know for a fact that over the last couple of years, citizenships have been granted to lost citizens.

Is there a way this can be improved upon? That is why we are having this debate today and there will be another hour of debate. Suffice to say that I generally believe that individuals inside this chamber understand and appreciate the importance of Canadian citizenship. As the member quoted, he has his own citizenship card. Many, possibly all of us, in terms of the pandemic, have had the opportunity to see that sense of pride that immigrants often display during citizenship courts.

Canada is a country that is very dependent on immigration. In my own home province of Manitoba, the population would have decreased if it were not for immigration to our province in the last 15 years. Immigrants have built our country. We need to have well thought-out policies and a system of fairness, a system that ensures that permanent residents become citizens.

I enjoy it when I have an opportunity to participate in citizenship courts. I remember, very vividly, a young lady being sworn in of Filipino heritage with a Canadian flag wrapped around her as they sang the national anthem for the very first time as a Canadian citizen. It brings tears to the eyes of many when we witness that. Citizenship is the greatest thing that we can provide. People will wear the Canadian flag with pride when they travel to Europe or other countries around the world as Canada is seen as the greatest country in the world to live. We might all be somewhat biased.

These are the types of issues that come up when we think of citizenship and everything that is acquired. I go back to the residents of Winnipeg North, with many first generation immigrants participating in those citizenship courts. Virtually every weekend I am meeting with permanent residents who I know some day will become Canadian citizens.

It takes 1,095 days to become a Canadian citizen. That means three years. There is a bit of a calculation. Technically, it is a minimum of three years in the last five years from the moment when one puts their application in that one has to reside in Canada. There are some issues even within that. I have brought up the issue, for example, of long-haul truck drivers, ones that drive back and forth between Canada and the United States. I want to ensure that people, and families in particular, are provided that opportunity to get citizenship because I have seen the value of that. I understand and appreciate Canada's diversity. It is second to no other country. I want to make sure that we get it right.

We have to ensure the integrity of the citizenship process. That is, in fact, priority one for me in recognizing how important it is that lost Canadians are, in fact, being provided the opportunity to have that citizenship as quickly as possible. That is why I believe in ministerial discretionary authority. If there are examples that members have, they should not hesitate to bring up those examples with the minister in question, no matter what happens in terms of debate on this particular piece of legislation. We all want to make sure that the people who are entitled to have it should have it. There are examples that I think we really need to work through.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, for decades some Canadians have found themselves to be stateless due to a number of convoluted immigration laws. Some have found themselves all of a sudden losing their Canadian status and they do not know why.

In 2007, the UN listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making their own people stateless. In 2009, the Conservatives said they were going to address this issue with Bill C-37. In fact, Jason Kenney was the minister of immigration then. Sadly, Bill C-37 did not properly address the lost Canadians issue. At the time, even Conservative minister Diane Finley acknowledged that Bill C-37 would not fix all of the cases of lost Canadians.

In fact, Jason Kenney created a brand new set of problems. For the purposes of this discussion, I will not get into the issues of how the Conservatives eliminated people's right to appeal when the government revoked their citizenship. I will simply focus on the issue of lost Canadians.

How did Bill C-37 not effectively deal with the age 28 issue with lost Canadians? When the government of the day did away with the age 28 rule with Bill C-37, in its wisdom it only applied it going forward. As such, those who turned 28 before 2009 were left behind. That means they remained as lost Canadians.

Affected Canadians caught up in this did not even know their citizenship was cancelled somewhere between 11 years and 15 years ago. For many it only came to light when they applied for something that required proof of citizenship, such as a Canadian passport. In some cases, because of Canada's archaic immigration laws, they discovered they were stateless. Others were faced with deportation, even though they were Canadians in every way prior to turning 28. It is just absurd.

I have met many lost Canadians whose lives have been turned upside down because of these unjust laws. Imagine someone who has lived all their life as a Canadian, has voted in elections, and one day wakes up to be told they no longer are Canadian.

I had the pleasure of meeting Byrdie Funk a number of years ago. She was caught up in this. She is a third-generation Canadian and had to fight this. It took her almost a decade to regain her citizenship, not because the law was changed; she had to shame the government to give her a special grant and to give her citizenship back.

Bill S-245 would fix this age 28 rule, and that is a good thing. However, this bill does not address the other issues for lost Canadians. Through Bill C-37, the Conservatives ended the extension of citizenship to second-generation Canadians born abroad, effectively creating two classes of Canadian citizenship. Preventing Canadians born abroad from passing their citizenship to their children if they were outside of Canada means the breaking up of families.

In the case of Patrick Chandler, when he was offered a job in British Columbia, he moved back to Canada, but he had to leave his wife and his children behind. That is the reality he was faced with as a second-generation Canadian who was born abroad. This is just plain wrong.

In another situation, a woman named Victoria Maruyama received her Canadian citizenship through her father as an immigrant from Vietnam. At 22, she moved to Japan to teach English and met her husband, a Japanese national. Her children were born in Japan, and as a result, they do not have citizenship through her, even though she had moved back to Canada. This is their reality.

In another situation, Gregory Burgess, a first-generation Canadian, and his wife, a Russian Canadian, were on a work visa in Hong Kong. Their child was born there and now their son is stateless. They tried to get their son Canadian citizenship, but the Government of Canada would not allow Mr. Burgess to pass on his Canadian citizenship to his baby. The government told them to apply to Russia, to get Russian citizenship through the mother. It is true. The government told them this right now, when there is a war that Putin is waging against Ukraine, an illegal war. It is unbelievable.

The message here is clear. Somehow, second-generation born-abroad Canadians are less worthy. These Canadians lost their ability to pass on their citizenship to their children. That is no thanks to the Conservatives and to Jason Kenney through Bill C-37.

Even though Bill C-37 was meant to fix the lost Canadian issues, many of the issues were not fixed, even though, in another situation, then ministers Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander had both asserted that Canadians were all British subjects prior to 1947.

That means that war heroes who fought for Canada are deemed British subjects, even though in 1943, for example, the Department of National Defence gave them documents indicating that they would be fighting the war as Canadians, as citizens of Canada. That is what was in the documents handed to those soldiers. The Conservatives would not recognize that.

Those war heroes have been left out as Canadians. They have been left behind. Some have passed on, but we should honour them and recognize them and their families. They were very much a part of Canada and should be recognized as Canadians.

Others were being discriminated against because of their age, gender and family status. Another individual, a Surrey resident, Jackie Scott, who was born in 1945 to a Canadian veteran and a British woman, was repeatedly denied citizenship despite having lived for decades in Canada. She was raised in Canada, effectively, and voted as an adult, and yet when she applied for her citizenship certificate in 2005, to her shock, she was told that she was not a Canadian. She had to launch a lawsuit against the federal government before the government would even take action to address the situation. Even though she voted previously and pretty well lived all of her life in Canada, she found herself, all of a sudden, without citizenship.

I could go on with a list of issues. I should note that when asked about lost Canadians in opposition, the now Prime Minister said that Minister Kenney needed to understand that the principles of Canadian citizenship need to be administered with compassion and openness, and that he simply was not addressing these Canadian issues.

The Liberal government had a choice to fix this problem and it did not do it, not since the 2015 election. That is why there are so many people who have lost their citizenship and now are lost Canadians. This needs to be fixed once and for all.

We need to address this issue. I have tabled a private members' bill to this effect. We can take that bill and work from there. We can make amendments to this bill, if they are not deemed to be out of scope or deemed to be out of order.

We do need to fix the lost Canadian issue. We have seen the havoc that it has created in people's lives and it needs to stop.

I want to thank all of the advocates, including Don Chapman, Randall Emery and so many others who have been fighting for Canada to right these laws and do away with these unjust discriminatory practices in our immigration laws.

Let the lost Canadians be recognized now.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2022 / 5:40 p.m.
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Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, even though I do not always agree with my colleagues from the other parties who sit here in the House, I tend to avoid getting into partisanship. I think I am even transpartisan, and often being transpartisan allows me to do my work properly for the people of my riding, who, since 2019, have allowed me to proudly represent them in my corner of the country, Lac‑Saint‑Jean.

Today I will speak not only for Quebeckers, but also for a good number of Canadians whose files at IRCC have fallen through the cracks for far too long.

Today, as the Bloc Québécois critic for immigration and citizenship, I want to talk about Canadian citizenship. Yes, members heard me correctly, because this affects everyone here. More specifically, I want to talk about Bill S‑245, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. It is a continuation of Bill C‑37, which was unanimously passed in the House.

That is an example of cross-party co-operation. First, I want to quickly explain what this bill is about for those who are watching at home. Bill S‑245 seeks to correct a historic injustice by allowing Canadians who lost their citizenship because of past changes to the Citizenship Act or little-known regulations to regain it. We are talking about children of Canadian parents who were born abroad and who had their citizenship revoked simply because they failed to meet the requirement to apply to retain their citizenship before the age of 28, which is absolutely ridiculous.

These are people we now refer to as “lost Canadians”, those who were stripped of their citizenship because of an often little-known but truly ridiculous provision. According to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration's estimates, there are still between 100 and 200 people who have still not regained their citizenship. They are referred to as “lost Canadians”.

This bill corrects an oversight in the 2009 act, which missed a golden opportunity to do away with the requirement for people to apply to retain their citizenship when they turned 28. In fact, the main message of Bill S-245 is that we should be giving citizenship back to all of the people who lost it because of provisions in previous Canadian laws that were overly complex, unfair, sexist or even racist.

At the risk of ruining the surprise, I will say right away that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill S‑245. If we think about it, this bill is perfectly in line with what our contemporary vision of citizenship should be. Once citizenship has been duly granted, it should never be taken away from an individual, with some exceptions. Only a citizen can freely renounce his or her citizenship.

Like all parties in the House, the Bloc Québécois supports and defends the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It states that “all are equal before the law”. In fact, citizenship is an egalitarian legal status given to all members of the same community. It confers privileges as well as duties.

In this case, the Canadian government has failed its citizens. This is a matter of principle. I do not believe I am alone in thinking that it is profoundly unfair that, even in 2022, people can lose their citizenship for reasons that they probably do not even know exist. These provisions are from another time, a time long ago when there were questionable ideas about what it meant to be a citizen of Canada. Time has remedied the situation and, if the reforms of the past have not been instructive enough, then politics must weigh in.

As we know, the process for recovering citizenship is much too complicated. There is no denying that the federal bureaucracy is not exactly super-efficient when it comes to handling immigration, refugee and citizenship files. I believe we have said quite a lot about this since returning to the House in September.

Just how slow is the government? The act was reformed in 2005, again in 2009 and yet again in 2015. How many reforms does it take? Many citizens were overlooked every time the act was reformed: men and women, soldiers' wives and children, children born abroad and members of first nations and Chinese-Canadian communities. The government did not do a good enough job of fixing the act, so these people were left out in the cold.

Let us look back in history. Don Chapman, a retired United Airlines pilot, fought to bring the plight of these citizens to the public's attention. Don Chapman discovered that he had lost his Canadian citizenship when his father immigrated to the United States. Thanks to his astute demonstration that this was a problem affecting many Canadians, including Roméo Dallaire, he was able to force Parliament to remedy the situation and pass the suite of legislative reforms before us today.

Bill S-245 seeks to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. I would also add one thing. Every time we check, the government backlog is worse. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to prevent problems from occurring in the first place and making us wait once again for the federal machinery to make things right.

What does it mean to “make things right” in this case? It means ensuring for once and for all that the constituents in our respective ridings get what belongs to them. It is not right that in 2022, 17 years after the first reform to correct the situation for lost Canadians, we are not getting anywhere. In a situation like this, it is up to the government to offer a solution to the individuals to regularize their status so that they can have their dignity for once and for all, like every other citizen.

Whether this bill affects hundreds of claimants or thousands makes no difference to me. It is a matter of principle. In no way does that stop us from taking action for the good of the people we are fortunate to represent and who put their trust in us. I will say it again: It is a matter of principle.

At the risk of repeating myself, I would like to conclude with this. Most of the time when I have the opportunity to speak in the House, it is about suggestions that come from the opposition. I think we are all on the same side when it comes to helping people, and rightly so. When the government listens to us and we all work together, it usually results in better programs.

As parliamentarians, we must tackle the problems facing our constituents with a great sense of duty, and we must set partisanship aside to do so. The people of Lac‑Saint‑Jean, whom I have had the honour to represent since 2019, along with all Quebeckers and Canadians, must be considered on an equal footing.

The situation facing the so-called “lost Canadians” should never have happened. I will say it again: Citizenship must be equal for all. Let us make one last reform, once and for all. We have to get it right this time, for reasons of equality, justice and principle, but also simply because enough is enough.

Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 16th, 2016 / 4:05 p.m.
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Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether my colleague would support this amendment, which failed at the committee because it was deemed to be inadmissible. It relates to people who are deemed to be second generation born.

Effective April 17, 2009, in Bill C-37, second generation children born abroad were restricted from obtaining Canadian citizenship. By denying citizenship to the second generation born abroad, Canada is in fact creating a second set of lost Canadians and is making some children born to Canadians stateless.

I wonder whether the member would support an amendment to address this issue, because it is an ongoing problem. It makes no sense that if an individual is second generation born abroad, he or she is actually at risk of being deemed stateless.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

May 28th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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St. Catharines Ontario


Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to follow my colleague, who did such a good job describing and talking about the Citizenship Act and the changes we would make through Bill C-24. I would like to add my part to the point of how our government is planning to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship.

Canada's 37-year-old Citizenship Act is in need of serious reforms. Its original purpose, of course, was to ensure we had individuals who worked through the process of becoming Canadian citizens and followed through on the legislation and regulation that was put forward at that time.

Indeed, the reforms today are here to work toward stopping the abuse of our immigration system and to put an end to the dubious folks who actually cheapen our citizenship by having zero connection or attachment to our country.

It is clear that our government takes the value of Canadian citizenship seriously. That is why we see this bill here before us today.

Citizenship defines who we are as Canadians, but it comes with certain responsibilities, like respect for the rule of law, contributing to the well-being of our communities, supporting ourselves and our families, and protecting our country.

Citizenship also means that we share a commitment to the values that are rooted in our history, values like peace, freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Canadian citizenship is about more than the right to carry a passport. It is about the complete entity of what it is to be a Canadian citizen.

Citizens need to have an ongoing connection to their country, and in this particular case, an ongoing connection to our country of Canada.

As a government and as Canadians, we believe citizenship is truly something special.

When asked, Canadians across this country—especially those who have acquired, or recently acquired, Canadian citizenship—will say how special it is to actually achieve that end and that goal.

We cannot and do not attach a price to citizenship. Unfortunately there are those who would attempt to attach some form of monetary cost to Canadian citizenship.

The changes found in this legislation would be a real step in the fight against attempts to defraud the Canadian citizenship program and to defraud Canadian citizens of what is truly a remarkable feat once one achieves that citizenship.

It is unfortunate, but citizenship fraud is a serious issue in our country. The Government of Canada's investigation into residence fraud continues to grow, with nearly 11,000 individuals potentially implicated in lying to apply for citizenship or to maintain their permanent resident status. These are individuals who were most likely trying to establish the residency requirements for citizenship when they were actually living abroad. These practices demean and devalue what it is to be a Canadian and what it is to achieve Canadian citizenship.

The legislation before us would amend the Citizenship Act to ensure that, not only are we protecting the value of Canadian citizenship against those who would cheapen it, but we are also enhancing and building upon it.

Here is how we are proposing to do that. First and foremost, our citizenship program officers do not currently have the tools to determine if a consultant has been involved with an application for citizenship. We propose to change that and to require that applicants who use a representative when they apply for citizenship use only an authorized representative.

Changes to the Citizenship Act would give the minister the ability to designate a body to regulate and enforce citizenship consultant conduct. These changes would mirror recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

It was just a couple or three years ago that we passed that new legislation in which a regulatory body within the Ministry of Citizenship would actually oversee and ensure that only consultants who were licensed through the ministry, who were approved through the ministry, and who actually met the guidelines were able to represent both individuals attempting to achieve refugee status, in the case of our refugee act, and individuals attempting to achieve citizenship and who are applying for it through this new act.

In regulating consultants, we would offer a level of protection to newcomers that they do not have at the moment.

We have all heard stories and talk within our constituency offices and our ridings from those who come in to our office to sit down with us and explain how they have simply and very clearly been ripped off. They have been led down the garden path to believe they can achieve citizenship if only they pay $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 to this individual who does not have a reputation of being able to achieve that end and who is not licensed to work within the province of Ontario.

The amendments would also bring the penalty for committing citizenship fraud in line with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They would increase the penalties for citizenship fraud to a maximum of a $100,000 fine, or up to five years in prison, or both.

The second part of this is we are taking action to strengthen the residence requirements for citizenship. My colleague spoke about that briefly in his remarks as well. Currently the Citizenship Act does not define what “residence” actually means. The act does not say or deem what “residence” or “resident requirements” actually mean when people are applying for and working through the process of citizenship.

Under the current act, prospective Canadians apply for citizenship and are simply required to have resided in Canada for three of the past four years. Our proposed amendment to the act is to stipulate that prospective Canadians would need to be physically present in Canada. This is important, because physical presence in Canada helps newcomers to integrate and establish a sense of belonging and attachment to Canada.

However, it is more than that. It is also about the ability for those individuals to learn what it is to become a Canadian, to learn about our history, to learn about our geography and what happens in the east or west of our country, what happens in Ontario and Quebec, and the fact that we have two official languages. It gives those individuals the length and the breadth of understanding, and the ability to know that when they achieve Canadian citizenship, it is because they earned it and because they understand it.

We will, however, include an exception for applicants who are outside of Canada because they are accompanying either their Canadian spouse or parent who is employed in the Canadian Armed Forces or as a crown servant. This is to prevent these permanent residents from being penalized simply because of their family's service abroad for our country.

It is an issue that we missed in the former bill, Bill C-37, which passed unanimously. I hope this citizenship bill will also pass unanimously. The former bill, Bill C-37, did not cover this instance where an individual had a spouse, parent or child employed in the Canadian Armed Forces. It would not have given those people the ability to achieve citizenship, so we will ensure it is in this act. We also want to lengthen the current residence requirements and require prospective Canadians to be physically present in Canada for four out of the six last years.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration had the opportunity to hear key testimony on the bill. Organizations such as the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and Immigrants For Canada as well as several immigration lawyers all agreed that extending the residence requirements would strengthen the attachment that individuals would have to Canada and that when they received that Canadian citizenship, it would enhance their ability as a Canadian.

Immigration lawyer, Mr. Reis Pagtakhan, noted that the longer an individual lived in Canada, the greater the connection would be. He accurately stated:

Citizenship bestows rights and protections many foreign nationals do not have. As Canadian citizens, they can vote and seek elected office, so it is important that they participate in Canadian life before they become citizens.

I could not agree more. Newcomers should have a deep understanding of Canada's culture and society before they apply for citizenship. We believe Canada has a strong identity, and this bill would build on that sense of nation.

Finally, as part of their applications, applicants would also be asked whether they intended to reside in Canada. If an applicant had no intention to reside in our country after they obtained citizenship, or if the government obtained information to this effect, they would not be eligible for that citizenship.

Our citizenship is highly valued around the world. Canadian citizenship is an honour and a privilege. It comes not only with rights, but it comes with responsibilities. The bill would reinforce that, build on it and take that 37 years since we have worked on the act and make it that much stronger and that much better. It would close a loop that should have been closed a long time ago.

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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Kevin Lamoureux Liberal 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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Mark Holland Liberal 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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The Chair Conservative 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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Justin Trudeau Liberal 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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Alice Wong Conservative 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?