Liberal government to debate Senate amendments to long-delayed citizenship bill

It will be interesting to see whether the Liberal government accepts all three amendments and how quickly the House will deal with C-6.

I suspect that the government may accept the procedural protections amendment in the case of revocation for fraud and right of minors to apply independently of their parents or guardians, while rejecting the exemption for testing change to 60 from 55.

Personally, I favour accepting all three in the interests of getting C-6 implemented quickly. The age exemption issue – a difference of five years – has been largely an “evidence-free” zone:

While I expect the Liberal government to reject The Liberals’ long-delayed citizenship bill is finally moving ahead almost a year after the House of Commons passed it, but it’s not law yet.

The Senate voted Wednesday in favour of the bill that will revoke a Conservative policy to remove Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of serious crimes such as terrorism and treason.

Three amendments were introduced, however, which means the bill gets sent back to the House of Commons, where Liberals will decide whether to accept the changes or not. If they don’t, it goes back to the Senate again. Government House leader Bardish Chagger’s office said Wednesday amendments will be brought to the floor for debate “in due course.”

The new law will also require prospective citizens to be in the country for three out of five years before their application, a change from the four out of six years that are currently required. Applicants will no longer need to declare an intent to reside in Canada.

Bill C-6, which fulfills a major election promise to repeal elements of Conservative legislation, has trudged slowly through the upper chamber since last June. After a spurt of opposition delay tactics, senators had made a backroom deal to have a final vote by Wednesday.

The bill’s sponsor, independent Sen. Ratna Omidvar, championed in particular an amendment, introduced by independent Sen. Elaine McCoy, that improves due process for people who are facing revocation of their citizenship due to fraud or misrepresentation.

After the Conservatives’ Bill C-24, revocation processes were streamlined such that people weren’t automatically granted a right to defend themselves if their citizenship was about to be taken away. The Liberal Bill C-6 didn’t reverse this change.

“Without this amendment,” said a statement from Omidvar’s office, “Canadians face an unjust administrative process and fewer safeguards than anyone wishing to challenge a parking ticket.”

Previous immigration minister John McCallum had told senators Liberals would “welcome” an amendment addressing this, but new minister Ahmed Hussen has not indicated support one way or the other.

Two other amendments were adopted. For older applicants, the law currently requires language proficiency in English or French up to the age of 64. The Liberal law proposed lowering this to 55, but senators decided to adopt Conservative Sen. Diane Griffin’s suggestion of a middle ground, setting it at age 60 instead. Another amendment, from Conservative Sen. Victor Oh, seeks to ensure minors can apply for citizenship separate from parents or guardians.

With physician-assisted dying legislation last summer, the House of Commons addressed Senate amendments right away (with the government rejecting most of them). On the other hand, the Senate is still waiting for the House of Commons to accept or reject an amendment on the RCMP union bill, C-7, which it adopted last June.

Source: Liberal government to debate Senate amendments to long-delayed citizenship bill | National Post

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to Liberal government to debate Senate amendments to long-delayed citizenship bill

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    I am so thankful to Senator McCoy and Senator Omidvar for suggesting and including the right to defend oneself in the case of upcoming revocation of citizenship for fraud or misrepresentation. I would hope that will be accepted and wish it could be expanded to include other reasons for revocation which may arise.

    When my family learned our citizenship was stripped 13 years ago, we were given no notice, no hearing and no forum for appeal. Thousands of other people got the same treatment then and it has still been happening, as people discover citizenship is gone when they go to apply for a passport, renew a health card, etc. And none of them had it taken for either fraud or misrepresentation: it just seemed to be taken for strange reasons, “arcane laws” such as the Rule 28, to suit the beliefs of the government of the day.

    The next generation of our family are all Canadian citizens by birth here, but they are also entitled to British citizenship due to having a parent born in WWII Britain because of grandparents serving in the Canadian forces pre-1947. I would hate to see them or any of the other thousands of such “Second Class Citizens”lose their citizenship for such reasons which are not their fault.

    We have been here for 71 years, 58 with citizenship and 13 years without. Once you lose your citizenship, it is near impossible to get it back. It is well past time that Canada needs to ensure its citizens get proper judicial process in the event of revocation.

    I would like to express my appreciation to the Senators who promoted and supported this move to ensure a proper judicial process for Canadians faced with revocation

  2. Like Marion, I have dual citixenship. I was born in Canada and so were all my grandparents. So were 6 of my 8 great-grandparents, half of whom were born in Quebec mostly descended from immigrants who arrived thousands of years ago, First Nations people.

    Our government will welcome complete strangers to come and stay in Canada and then impose restrictions on people who were born here.

    It makes no sense. But hey, who expects politicians to have any sense or feeling.

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