An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Sponsor

John McCallum  Liberal

Status

Considering amendments (House), as of May 3, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-6.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to, among other things,

(a) remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian citizenship that relate to national security;

(b) remove the requirement that an applicant intend, if granted citizenship, to continue to reside in Canada;

(c) reduce the number of days during which a person must have been physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship and provide that, in the calculation of the length of physical presence, the number of days during which the person was physically present in Canada before becoming a permanent resident may be taken into account;

(d) limit the requirement to demonstrate knowledge of Canada and of one of its official languages to applicants between the ages of 18 and 54; and

(e) authorize the Minister to seize any document that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe was fraudulently or improperly obtained or used or could be fraudulently or improperly used.

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

Elsewhere

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

Votes

May 17, 2016 Passed That Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
March 21, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 18th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue the debate we began this morning on the Conservative opposition day motion. Tomorrow, we will begin debate on Bill C-46 on impaired driving. Next week, members will work in their ridings.

When we come back, we will proceed with Bill C-6 on citizenship.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will continue with second reading debate of Bill C-46.

Thursday, June 1, will be an allotted day.

I would like to underline the fine work that took place in committee of the whole yesterday evening. It was productive, with many good exchanges that elevated the quality of the debate in this place. I would like to sincerely thank all hon. members and their respective staff, and also the House of Commons staff, for their hard work, which went late into the night. The next committee of the whole will be the Monday we return to this place.

Finally, as has been done in the past, I will be giving notice of a motion today to extend the sitting hours until the summer adjournment in June to midnight from Monday to Thursday, which I will be moving upon the return from constituency week. I trust that the opposition parties will support this motion.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

April 10th, 2017 / 2:45 p.m.
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York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we value all of the ways in which newcomers enrich our society.

We are committed to making sure, with Bill C-6, that we further remove obstacles that were put in place by the previous government for permanent residents to obtain their citizenship. We are moving forward to make sure that we enhance the ability of permanent residents to access citizenship.

We are also aware, under Bill C-6, of measures to further strengthen the integrity of the citizenship program. We want to maintain the value of Canadian citizenship and prevent fraud and misrepresentation.

March 20th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

I'm not asking about Bill C-6. Just to clarify for the minister, and perhaps his departmental officials would like to show him this, it says that following the royal assent of Bill C-6 there would be “corresponding updates to the Citizenship Regulations”.

Can he please tell the committee what these updates would be?

March 20th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Once Bill C-6 passes, we will be able to look at whatever corresponding changes that we need—

March 20th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

I can't speak to the anticipated costs. What I can speak to is that Bill C-6 remains a priority for us because it removes the obstacles to citizenship that were implemented by Bill C-24.

March 20th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ahmed Hussen Liberal York South—Weston, ON

On Bill C-6, we anticipate and are hopeful that the Senate will pass C-6 so that we can move very quickly on removing obstacles to citizenship brought in by Bill C-24. Whatever is in C-6 that would require changes to the regulations is something that we will also move very quickly in the—

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

November 30th, 2016 / 7 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for her question.

As the member is aware, our government is already moving forward with its commitments to repeal certain provisions of Bill C-24, including provisions relating to the revocation of citizenship on national interest grounds.

That said, while we want to ensure that citizenship requirements are fair and flexible, Canadians also want to protect the program from abuse. I understand the member's comments related to both citizenship revocation and cessation provisions, and I will address both of those.

On the citizenship revocation, that is available under four grounds: misrepresentation, fraud, knowingly concealing material circumstances, or where national interest grounds are at stake. As part of Bill C-6, which has been voted on and passed third reading in this House, provisions relating to citizenship revocation under national interest grounds are being repealed, which is a step in the right direction I think we would all agree.

With respect to the other grounds related to misrepresentation, fraud, and knowingly concealing material circumstances, the most serious cases are prioritized, such as those involving serious criminality or organized fraud. There have been several large-scale fraud investigations across Canada, which have led to the increase in citizenship revocations.

Canadians are proud of their citizenship, and our government is committed to upholding the integrity of that citizenship. The ability to revoke based on fraud has been in place since the inception of the act in 1947, and will continue to do so.

This tool is very important in ensuring that the program remains effective, as the Auditor General indicated in his report.

As things stand now, the minister has the authority to revoke citizenship in basic fraud cases, such as residence fraud, identity fraud, and criminality. The Federal Court has the authority to decide on more complex cases where the misrepresentation is in relation to concealing facts relating to inadmissibility for security violations, human or international rights violations, or organized crime.

With respect to the revocation process, which has been underlined here by the member opposite, under the authority of the minister, once individuals receive a notice of intent advising them that their citizenship may be revoked, along with the evidence that the notice is based on, they are given the opportunity to provide submissions and evidence relating to the case to the decision-maker, which can be taken into consideration.

These are some of the due process components that have to be emphasized to the member opposite. While we are open to suggestions on how to improve the due process protections, certain protections exist at present. In certain circumstances, for example, an oral hearing may be held. Personal circumstances of the individual, including any hardship that may be caused, can be taken into account by a decision-maker.

With respect to the cessation provisions, I know the member opposite has spoken about this. She is an advocate for this provision. We are looking at the cessation provisions, because certain aspects of those cessation provisions, including the retroactivity component and including the ability to revoke not just the refugee status but also the permanent residency of an individual, are aspects that are concerning to this government. We will, indeed, be analyzing those very provisions that have been raised by the member opposite.

I want to underscore, once again, there are due process protections in place for revocation of citizenship, including what I have outlined, but also the fact that a judicial review can be sought with leave to the Federal Court of Canada.

The minister has said publicly many times in this House, and in the Senate where Bill C-6 is currently, that we are open to considering enhancements to the current process for revocation for citizenship fraud, and that is exactly what we will do should those suggestions be made.

October 21st, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Thank you very much.

We're not really here to defend either this government, or the previous government, or criticize the previous government, or this government, we're hear to listen. I just want to clarify that Bill C-24 was passed in the last Parliament. The House of Commons has now passed a new law that would undo those parts of it called Bill C-6. I don't believe it's passed yet this week. It's in the Senate now, and this committee is looking at the whole framework to see how we can improve.

Go ahead, Ms. Damoff.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

October 6th, 2016 / 2:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 2014, the RCMP targeted about 11,000 people suspected of fraud in obtaining Canadian citizenship by misrepresenting their residency in Canada. There are many other cases that have been flagged by immigration officers.

The minister has said he wants to amend Bill C-6 to allow those cases access to a lengthy and costly appeals process that would divert resources away from people who play by the rules.

I wonder why on earth the minister wants to do this.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Not right now there isn't, but we could look at it.

I just want to say a couple of things.

We have become a little more lenient than the previous government on Bill C-6, when we said that the language test would not apply to those 55 to 64, whereas previously it did; on the grounds that, while language is really important, older people don't always come the country with perfect English, but their children and certainly their grandchildren do have perfect English. We were a little more on the liberal side, shall we say, the small-l liberal side, on the language issue on that. Although, I have to acknowledge that there's a whole lot of evidence suggesting that skill in English or French is a critical determinant of economic success in Canada, so we haven't really changed too much of what the Conservatives did on language or what the previous Liberal governments may have done. We've changed a little bit, but we accept the premise that success and competence in language is an important criterion of success. We don't apply that to spouses, but when we're talking about economic immigrants, whom we expect to make a contribution to the economy, we have to take an account of the factors that we think will make them successful. Language is one of them. I don't really see how it's discriminatory. The same consideration applies to any group whose first language is not English.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chair, the proceedings of an in camera meeting are deemed to be confidential and certainly the review component of Bill C-6 was conducted in camera.

The minister has just divulged the proceedings of an in camera meeting. I don't believe the minister was in attendance at that meeting, so there seems to be a breach of information and confidentiality that is now in a televised meeting. So I do raise a question of privilege and a breach of confidentiality of an in camera meeting.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Thornhill, ON

Just by coincidence, I was asked exactly the same question in the Senate question period about half an hour ago, and I said we would look into it. The basic point I made was that I think citizenship should be revoked for people who misrepresent, if that's the situation, but I also think that people should have a right to a proper appeal. Right now, the system is such that there is a review or some appeal. I think it was you who put forward an amendment to Bill C-6—correct me if I'm wrong—to strengthen that appeal process, but it was declared out of scope.

Senator Omidvar is now proposing an amendment to strengthen the appeal right, and I have said that I'm open to that and I like the idea. We don't know yet whether the Senate will rule that to be in scope or out of scope. In the House they said it was out of scope, but the Senate rules are different, so I don't know.

I would certainly welcome that, if she makes that amendment, if it's in scope, and if the Senate accepts it. I said I would look at it, but I don't think we would have a moratorium. I think we have a system that could be improved—as I have just acknowledged—but it has been going for some years. I am hopeful we will have an amendment of that kind accepted in the bill.

October 4th, 2016 / 5:25 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister and his staff for coming before the committee.

First I would like to ask the minister why at this time the ministry is continuing to revoke the cases of up to some 60 individuals each month who have been found to have misrepresented their citizenship application. The minister acknowledged publicly that there isn't procedural fairness for processing these cases because they don't have that under Bill C-24 and it has not yet been fixed under Bill C-6, so an individual family could be impacted including children who may have, through no fault of their own, been caught up in the situation through the misrepresentation. Will the minister agree that a moratorium should be put in place with respect to revoking citizenship applications based on misrepresentation until such time as the process has been addressed?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for raising the point about the litigation. However, I believe she would be aware and members of the House should be informed that the litigation was actually placed on hold pending our government's commitment to reform Bill C-24 by Bill C-6, and we have done exactly that. In its most glaring constitutional violation, Bill C-24 jeopardized people's citizenship based on their places of origin in terms of the ability to revoke, based on national security grounds, the citizenship only of people who were not born here. That change has been made and the litigation has been put into abeyance.

The submissions made by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and other members who attended at committee have been heard. We have received those documents, we are reviewing them, and we look forward to enabling better and more constructive due process provisions going forward in respect of citizenship revocation when it arises in the case of misrepresentation.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 6 p.m.
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Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, the question on the Order Paper of the member for Vancouver East actually dealt with a substantially different issue, so I will address both in my comments.

The question on the Order Paper related to a matter that relates to funding for language instruction classes for newcomers and settlement services. She received a response from the minister at the time, which I can reiterate and add to. The government takes very seriously the issue of the settlement of all newcomers, particularly in the case of Syrian refugees. On top of the $600 million in funding that was provided in 2016-17 to settlement agencies, an additional pocket of $37 million has been dedicated just for Syrian refugees and their resettlement. We take very seriously the issue of people not only being housed but also being linguistically trained so that they can access the workforce.

In respect of the comments of the member for Vancouver East regarding Bill C-24, I obviously have a very different description of what has transpired with respect to our tabling of legislation, Bill C-6, the significance of that tabling, what it has done, and what it will continue to do for Canadians.

The member made extensive submissions at committee with respect to one particular issue, and I will get to that issue in a moment, but by tabling Bill C-6, we have shortened the time frame for which people are eligible for citizenship. It has been reduced from four years to three years. We have rendered citizenship more accessible by restricting the citizenship testing requirements only to persons aged 18 to 55. It used to be required for anyone as young as 14 and anyone as old as 65. We have also given credit to individuals, such that time spent here prior to becoming a permanent resident can be attributed to one's citizenship eligibility on a factor of 50%, such as temporary foreign workers and international students.

Most importantly, we have also emphasized something that affects me and many members of the House, which I spoke about already in respect of Bill C-6, and that is that we have eliminated the part of the legislation brought in by the previous government which implemented a system whereby one's citizenship could be revoked based on grounds of national security, only for those people who were not born in this country. That is the point about making sure a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. I am very proud of that legislation, and the minister and the department stand behind it.

With respect to issues about revocation of citizenship based on fraud or misrepresentation, it is an important point highlighted by the member for Vancouver East. The issue of revoking citizenship for fraud has existed since 1947, since the Citizenship Act was created. Revoking for fraud maintains an important aspect of what we must do as a government. We revoke for fraud in certain instances, for example, if somebody hides the fact that they participated as a war criminal in some foreign conflict. If that is not presented to officials and is later discovered, we will intervene and revoke that citizenship. It is something Canadians expect us to do and something that this government will continue to do.

The important point raised by the member for Vancouver East, however, is the procedural protections and due process that are or are not available in such revocation contexts. I was at those committee meetings with the member opposite and we heard the submissions. They were important submissions and those changes are not taking place in this form of the bill at this juncture because of the structural and regulatory changes that would be required in terms of the overall apparatus and machinery of government.

Does that mean that they are off the table? It certainly does not. The minister answered a question on this just today in question period in respect of the possibility of looking at such changes going forward.