Evidence of meeting #35 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-37.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Could you get to your question? We're well over.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

I'm sorry.

You know what? I have another five minutes afterwards, so I can come back to it.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Okay.

Monsieur St-Cyr.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Thank you.

I would like to make sure I understand correctly. You said you had a discussion with the department about Bill C-37, which will eventually get passed, and we're already starting to realize that some of its provisions might need some amendments. Is it what you said?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I think you misunderstood. They initiated the discussion with me--

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Okay.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

--first to advise me that their legal analysis indicated that my bill was faulty and had unintended adverse consequences, and then, that to rectify this, they would be happy to amend the bill and agree to its passage. That was the extent of my discussions with them.

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

If, in the meantime, Bill C-37 were passed in its present wording, do you agree with me that your bill would become redundant?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I have not done the legal analysis myself. I used to do that when I was the attorney general or a lawyer--I'm no longer one. But I'm told by the analysts of the department that then my bill would be redundant.

December 1st, 2010 / 3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Fine. My colleague Mr. Wrzesnewskyj talked about the privilege of citizenship and how to limit its extension. We already had that debate in this committee, and we know it is always very difficult to determine who should be given this privilege and who should not.

I remember very well that, at the time, when we were studying the former Bill C-37 on citizenship, the officials had told us that the place of birth was the simplest and easiest to apply criteria, and that it covered the largest number of cases. That is why it is the general criteria which is used in our legislation to extend citizenship. It is the criteria you used in your bill.

Nevertheless, we still need to define a whole list of exceptions to cover as many situations as possible.

I would like to take advantage of your presence to have a more thorough discussion about citizenship.

Is the place of birth still the most relevant criteria to determine the attachment of an individual to Canada?

In my opinion, if we started to question this premise, we could see things in a totally different light. On the one hand, you have people who were born in Canada—some cases have been reported in the media—and who come to Canada like tourists, to give birth and then they leave for 18 years. Later, their children come to Canada for postsecondary education. These people have no ties in Canada.

On the other hand, you might have people who have always lived in Canada and who happen to give birth abroad, quite accidentally—some of them live along the American border, and the ambulance may have driven them to an American hospital—, and these people cannot extend their citizenship to their child if he or she is born abroad.

In this day and age, when people are travelling everywhere around the world, shouldn't we start to think about determining citizenship according to the number of years an individual or his parents have lived in Canada, rather than apply stupidly the place of birth criteria?

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

In a sense we do, because when you have immigrants coming in—I'm an immigrant—you give them a test, which is somewhat different now from what it was when I became a Canadian citizen, and you require them to live here for a certain number of years before you confer Canadian citizenship upon them.

I understand the argument you're making. I'm open to it; however, here is a thought from someone who is an immigrant. When you're born and raised in a particular place and you live there for 10 or 15 years, particularly the first—

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Excuse me, Mr. Dosanjh. Something is happening.

Are there votes?

3:55 p.m.

A voice

Yes.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

So we're going to have to come back another time. Maybe a little later this afternoon?

Mr. Dykstra.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

I have a note here that there's a concurrence motion introduced by Liberals on this...or, not on this; I'm sorry. I'm not sure for what.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

I want to go off the record for a minute. We'll suspend for a minute....

I'm going to let you finish, sir.

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

As an immigrant, I can tell you—perhaps it's the tragedy of immigrants—that you can never, in a sense, psychologically divorce yourself from where you're born and raised. It has a huge impact on your life. You are “that”--where you were born and raised--for a long, long time. I have tried to become a Canadian and I've succeeded to a large extent, picking up the values and mores of Canada. But I think it's important for people to be steeped in the values of a society that they want to claim a connection with, and therefore, birth should remain a substantial part of your being a citizen or not.

But that doesn't mean you don't make other people citizens; when other people become citizens, they have the same rights as any other Canadians who are born and raised here. I as a Canadian have the same rights. My children are going to have the same rights as all other Canadians. I have five grandchildren. They're going to have the same rights.

But I think it's important that citizens have a very substantial connection with the country, with the land, with the place, with the air, with the water, with the rivers, with the people—with everything you have. And you can't do that unless you are spending a huge amount of time.... Birth means that you will have absolutely some connection with the place where you're born.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Do you know what? I said I'd let him finish. How long does he have? The clock never stopped.

4 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

It's okay for me.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

I think we're going to suspend.

4 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Do we come back after the vote?

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We're coming back. We love it here.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Liberal Papineau, QC

Can we all meet in the foyer of the...?

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We're going to vote around 4:30, I would say, and this place goes until 5:30, so I think we should come back.

4 p.m.

An hon. member

Okay. You're the chair.