Metropolis 2017: Workshops of Interest – Notes

These rough notes capture the sessions that I either organized or attended to give others a sense of the topics and perspectives covered.

Integration – The Search for a New Metaphor: This session, prompted by the Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) discussions on the meaning and definition of integration (and my Integration and multiculturalism: Finding a new metaphor – Policy Options) drew a good crowd(60-70 persons).

I opened with my critique of the “two-way street” metaphor by emphasizing that it did not capture the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of immigration, the Hegelian dialectic between thesis (host society) and anti-thesis (newcomers), resulting in a synthesis, and presented my preferred metaphor, harmony/jazz, where harmony represented the underlying framework of laws and institutions, and jazz the improvisation involved in resolving accommodation demands.

Mort Weinfeld of McGill drew from the personal experience of his parents and talking to cab drivers, noting that integration of the second generation was key. His preferred metaphor was the roundabout, with multiple points of entry and exit, with traffic moving smoothly.

Richard Bourhis of UQAM provided a Quebec perspective, looking at how Quebec language policies were characteristic of an assimilationist approach.

Elke Winter of UofOttawa drew from her analysis of European policies and practices and noted a third dimensions, that of outside actors and transnational forces (e.g., other countries, home communities of immigrants), and that integration was more a three-way than two-way process

The presentations prompted considerable discussion (although no one jumped to the defence of the ‘two-way street.’ The particular points I found most interesting were Richard’s noting the advantage of institutional diversity in terms of integration and others noting the need for metaphors and definitions to include indigenous peoples.

Thinking about next year, this is a topic that merits further exploration, perhaps involving some literary descriptions or metaphors (see the notes for Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions).

Citizenship – Factors Underlying a Declining Naturalization Rate: In the only session on citizenship, Elke WInter opened the workshop with an overview of how Canadian citizenship has evolved over the last 150 years, setting out four phases: colonized citizenship (pre-1947), nationalizing citizenship (1947-76), de-ethnicising citizenship (1977-2008) and re-nationalizing citizenship (2009-15) with a possible fifth phase emerging under the Liberal government. She presented some preliminary findings from an interview-based study.

I followed with my usual presentation of citizenship statistics, showing the impact of previous policy and administrative changes along with an assessment of the 2014 Conservative changes and Liberal partial repeal of these changes (currently in the Senate).

Jessica Merolli of Sheridan presented the key MIPEX naturalization indicators and data from the European Social Survey comparing immigrant/non-immigrant attitudes on issues such as self-sufficiency, interests in politics, LGBT acceptance and others and how over time in the country of immigration differences declined. The most striking exception was with respect to interest in politics, where immigrants, no matter how short or long the time, were more interested than non-immigrants.

Questions of note included do we need a citizenship knowledge test given that it presents barriers for some groups, and the impact that the  physical presence requirement has on families when one parent has to work abroad given difficulties in obtaining well-paying work in Canada.

Other workshops that I found particularly of interest included:

Inclusion, engagement partagé, participation – comment en rendre compte: Elke Laur of Quebec’s Minister de l’Immigration, de Latin American Diversity et de l’Inclusion presented their integration strategy and related measurement approach. Quebec has invested considerable time and resources on both aspects.

Of note is their definition below, capturing the complexities and dynamism of integration:

“Une participation réussie résulte d’un partage d’engagement mutuel de la personne et de la société dans son ensemble. Ainsi, la participation des personnes de minorités ethnoculturelles est conceptualisée sous forme d’un espace participatif dans lequel ces deux modalités se croisent dans une matrice. Cette matrice rend compte de l’articulation de différents degrés (allant de faible à fort), d’engagements individuels et de dispositions sociétales.”

Those interested in indicators should check out their report 2016 Mesure de Latin American participation des Québécoises et Québécois des minorités ethnoculturelles, an impressive report.

Enhancing the Potential to Analyze Immigration – Adding the Admission Category to Census Data: Laetitia Martin of Statistics Canada presented the detailed methodology of linking post-1980 IRCC administration data on immigrant admission categories, complemented by Lorna Jantzen of IRCC outlying the potential and challenges. Dan Hiebert of UBC provided an example for refugees of how this linkage could be used to analyze the economic outcomes of refugees, showing that in the long-term, economic outcomes are comparable to the Canadian average.

Minority Voice, Identity and Inclusion – Media and Literary Expressions: A mix of a case study (Punjabi media by Syeda Bukhari where she noted the ethnic media was getting more sophisticated in comparing what politicians said to English and ethnic media and thus holding them to account) and the overall contribution ethnic media does and can make to integration (Madeline Ziniak, current chair of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA)).

Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson gave a fascinating presentation regarding the person and poetry of Julian Tuwin, a Polish Jew (or Jewish Pole) whose loyalty and identity were attacked by both sides.

An example, Tuwin’s Poem, We, Polish Jews (1944)

I am a Pole because I want to be. It’s nobody’s business but my own. I do not divide Poles into pure-stock Poles and alien-stock Poles. I leave such classification to pure and alien-stock advocates of racialism, to domestic and foreign Nazis.

To be a Pole is neither an honor nor a glory nor a privilege. It is like breathing. I have not yet met a man who is proud of breathing.

A Pole – because I have been told so in Polish in my paternal home, because since infancy I have been nurtured in the Polish tongue; because my mother taught me Polish songs and Polish rhymes; because when poetry first seized me, it was in Polish words that it burst forth; because what in my life became paramount — poetical creation — would be unthinkable in any other tongue no matter how fluent I might become in it.”

A Pole – also because the birch and the willow are closer to my heart than palms and citrus trees, and Mickiewicz and Chopin dearer than Shakespeare and Beethoven.

A Pole – because I have taken over from the Poles quite a few of their national faults.

A Pole — because my hatred of Polish Fascists is greater than my hatred of Fascists of other nationalities. And I consider that particular point as a strong mark of my nationality.

He also presented Yolanda Cohen’s deck on the Sephardic press and diaspora identities.

Negotiating “fit” – Connections Between Employer Mindsets/Practices and Labour Market Success of Newcomers: Kelly Thomson of York provided an overview of the issue of “fit” and presented a case study of foreign-trained accountants. Aamna Ashraf of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group (near Toronto) presented the results of a study on soft barriers, with focused and practical recommendations. Madeline Ng of Autodata and Nancy Moulday of TD Bank presented how their respective organizations encourage and facilitate diversity in their workforces. Unfortunately, Thomson took far to long for her presentation, reducing the time available for discussion with the practitioners.

Fitting In: Identity and belonging among second generation Canadians: Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto of MacEwan University organized  this roundtable discussion focussing on the second generation. A number of second generation (and generation 1.5) participants shared their experiences, challenges and identities.

USA: Bid to Strip Terrorist’s Citizenship May Mark New Trump Way – Bloomberg

While the motivation is revocation for terrorism convictions, the rationale is fraud or misrepresentation in Faris’ citizenship application:

The Department of Justice has taken the rare step of seeking to strip a convicted terrorist of his U.S. citizenship as he serves the last several years of a 20-year prison sentence for plotting to destroy New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

Some national security experts suggested Tuesday the move might signal a new, tougher line under President Donald Trump.

The case involves Iyman Faris, 47 and born in Pakistan, who was sentenced in 2003 for aiding and abetting the al-Qaida terrorist group with his plan to cut through cables that support the iconic bridge. At the time, it was among the highest profile terrorism cases in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

A 17-page filing Monday in U.S. District Court in southern Illinois where Faris is imprisoned launched a revocation process that is likely to take years. The court filing argues that Faris lied on immigration papers before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999 and that his terrorist affiliations demonstrated a lack of commitment to the U.S. Constitution.

Faris, known as Mohammad Rauf before becoming a U.S. citizen and who once worked as a truck driver in Ohio, is scheduled for release from the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, on Dec. 23, 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security in New York, said the federal government has been aggressive in previous decades about revoking the citizenship of accused Nazis living in the United States. But she says it’s largely unheard of for revocation proceedings to be launched against naturalized U.S. citizens imprisoned for terrorism.

Most Americans would almost certainly back steps to strip citizenship from someone like Faris. Prosecutors have also accused him of meeting with Osama bin Laden in 2000 and alleged that the planned attack on the bridge could have been designed to be part of a second wave of attacks to follow those on 9/11.

But Greenberg said making the revocation of a terrorist’s U.S. citizenship established policy would only add to a trend since 9/11 of treating accused terrorists differently than other suspects. Stripping someone’s citizenship, she said, also appeared to be a way of adding on extra punishment not in the criminal statute itself.

“Why isn’t it enough that we put him in prison and give him the sentence he was given?” she said. She added that the effort against Faris could be seen as another example of how the Trump administration “tinkers with the established way we do things.”

Source: Bid to Strip Terrorist’s Citizenship May Mark New Trump Way – Bloomberg

These are the countries you can ‘buy’ citizenship to – Business Insider

Another good overview of the various schemes, and the relative advantages for those shopping for citizenship:

Most countries offer citizenship (passports) the hard way. But 7 sell them outright, and 3 have “powerful” passports. “Citizenship Planning” is a thing.

For people who need a second citizenship and passport to dodge the long arm of their government, there is something called “citizenship planning,” similar to “financial planning.” But when it comes to just outright buying a citizenship and passport without having to languish for years as mere non-citizen resident, the Huddled Masses need not apply. And not any passport will do. In fact, there are only three for sale that are really good.

Which are the best passports to get?

There are quality standards for everything, especially if it’s costly. The most powerful passports are those that allow visa-free travel to the most countries.

There are other considerations, for example those that drive US citizens nuts when they live overseas, due to the US government’s onerous reporting requirements on them and on banks that do business with them, and due to US taxation of their worldwide income no matter where they live. Few other governments treat their citizens that way.

In terms of visa-free travel, here are the 25 countries with the most powerful passports, according to a new ranking by Henley & Partners, which is into “citizenship planning.” But among them is only – Austria – one whose citizenship can be bought (more on that in a moment):

  1. Germany: visa-free travel to 176 countries.
  2. Sweden: 175 countries
  3. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, and the US: 174 countries.
  4. Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, UK: 173 countries
  5. Republic of Ireland, Japan, New Zealand: 172 countries
  6. Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland: 171 countries
  7. Australia, South Korea: 170 countries
  8. Iceland: 169 countries.

And how do you get one of those passports?

In most countries, the hard way: Legally immigrate and obtain residency, and then fulfill the residency requirements to get citizenship and that second passport, which takes years. Most countries, including the US, have special programs for “investors” to obtain residency, such as a green card, essentially on the spot, but even then it takes years to obtain citizenship and a passport. If it’s possible at all, such as in Germany.

Then there’s the direct way: Buy a citizenship and the passport that comes along with it. These citizenship-by-investment programs are not for folks on a tight budget. According to Henley & Partners, only seven countries offer this convenient route, only three have powerful passports, and only one is in the top of the heap above.

Passports from EU countries are the best. If you’re from Russia or China or Iraq and become a citizen of one of the 28 EU countries, you’ll get a country-specific EU passport that allows you to live and do business anywhere in the EU. There are all sorts of offshore benefits. And travel around the world is a breeze.

But citizenship in most EU countries is not for sale. You can buy only residency, similar to programs in the US. But there are three exceptions:


Citizenship is almost impossible to get for normal foreigners already legally in Austria. But the super-rich and famous have a way. The government, through paragraph 10, section 6 of the Citizenship Act, can confer citizenship “because of the services already provided by the foreigner and the extraordinary achievements still to be expected of him in the special interest of the Republic.” This usually involves a big direct investments of unspecified magnitude plus some other “extraordinary” contribution, such as being famous or creating jobs. Few succeed. In some years, none succeed.

They’re playing hard to get. But the rewards are huge for the few that succeed, including an impeccable EU passport with visa-free travel to 173 countries.


In 2012, as the EU-part of the divided island was veering toward bankruptcy, it offered citizenship through a “fast-track” scheme to dodge the normal residency requirements. But the price tag was €10 million in direct investment. Too expensive for the average oligarch.

In 2013, Cyprus became desperate. Its offshore financial industry, the main breadwinner of the economy, had collapsed in a cesspool of corruption. The banks had taken much of the foreign money – particularly Russian money – down with them. Cyprus needed some moolah. It slashed the price of citizenship to €3 million of direct investment. Russians who’d lost at least €3 million in the collapse would also be eligible for citizenship.

Since then, the price was further slashed, to as low as €2 million. And it’s fast: about three months for citizenship and an EU passport, with visa-free travel to 159 countries. And that €3-million investment can be sold after three years. An adequate house would likely do.


The tiny EU member state with 417,000 residents spread over three islands is convenient for foreigners, with English being one of the two official languages. In 2013, during the still rough waters of the euro debt crisis, Parliament passed legislation that put Maltese citizenship up for sale at €650,000. A spouse costs another €25,000; unmarried children between 18 and 25 and dependent parents cost €50,000 each. There are no residency or investment requirements. The money goes into government funds.

This citizenship is a product to be marketed. If it sells 100 per year at €650,000 a pop, it would generate annual revenues of €65 million – or 1.75% of total 2016 revenues (€3.7 billion). Given the limits on budget deficits under EU Treaties, everything counts.

This Maltese product includes an EU passport with visa-free travel to 166 countries. Folks can stop by, jump through some bureaucratic hoops, pay, get their citizenship and passport, and settle in Germany or wherever. At the time, Simon Busuttil, leader of the opposition Nationalist Party, warned that Malta could end up being compared to shady tax havens in the Caribbean. And that’s our last stop.

Source: These are the countries you can ‘buy’ citizenship to – Business Insider

The Trouble With India’s New Citizenship Bill | The Diplomat

Look forward to some comments from those more familiar with India and Indian politics than I:

Granting citizenship to Hindu refugees and making India “a natural home for persecuted Hindus” were among the promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election manifesto. Modi, in a 2014 election rally, specifically promised citizenship to Hindu-Bangladeshis, saying that they would be removed from the migrant camps. Since then, the current government has taken many steps which may seem majoritarian and anti-Muslim.

Against this backdrop, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seems to be aimed toward making India a haven for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. A closer look at the provisions indicates that the current government is attempting to increase its Hindu voter count. The BJP government’s website about Hindutva ideology clearly draws from Israel’s law of return and aims to do the same for Hindus in India. This policy in the Indian context would be contrary to the ideals of secularism and pluralism and thus unconstitutional.

The provisions of the bill would affect over 200,000 Hindus from Pakistan and Bangladesh and their migration into the border states of India would change the voter demographics in the region. The BJP government came to power in Assam in 2016, for the first time in 15 years, by using the agenda of ending illegal migration from Bangladesh. According to the Census of India (2011), 34.2 percent of Assam’s population is Muslim and the census shows that there has been a 4 percent rise in Muslim population over the past five years. The BJP government used the data as the basis of their campaign to gain votes in the region. If the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed, in its current form, then the border regions would face an influx of Hindu migrants, which would change the voter demographics in the region.

The bill aims to save religious minorities from violence and blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The rationale for selecting just these three countries, which are Muslim-dominated countries, is a cause for concern. The bill at first glance seems like a humanitarian effort to help persecuted minorities but it only seeks to help Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from the neighboring Muslim countries. Muslim minority communities facing oppression in other countries have been completely ignored. If the bill was really an attempt to provide a safe haven for minorities facing violence in their countries then it should also offer the same provisions to the minority Muslim communities in China and Myanmar as well. The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Uyghur Muslims in China, and the Ahmaddiya Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been facing persecution for years. Further, Myanmar’s Hindus have also been ignored in the bill.

India is not a signatory of the United Nation Refugee Convention; therefore it is not required to provide safe haven to people seeking asylum from persecution in other countries. No attempts have been made by the government to debate the issue of joining the United Nation Refugee Convention. That would have been the natural step to take if the government was indeed interested in formulating a humanitarian refugee policy. Further, the provisions of refugee protection cater to all minorities fleeing countries due to a humanitarian crisis but, in this bill, India is offering citizenship based on religious predilections. The bill, if passed in its current form, seeks to give preference to Hindu refugees over Muslim refugees migrating to India, which is unconstitutional as, the preamble of the Constitution confirms India as a secular state.

The refugees who will actually benefit from this policy are living in abject poverty with no sanitation and infrastructure facilities. The government, instead of using a blanket refugee policy, has made this a communal issue with a veiled political agenda, which would be counterproductive to the seemingly humanitarian goal of the bill.

A member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, revealed in the National Assembly that around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India every year. In 2015, the BJP government approved citizenship for 4,230 Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Afghanistan who sought refuge in India. The BJP had earlier claimed that they had granted Indian citizenship to 4,300 Pakistani nationals during 2014-15. However, a response to a query filed under the Right to Information by Seemant Lok Sanghthan showed that only 289 Pakistani Hindus were granted Indian citizenship in this period. This furthers the argument that the BJP’s political agenda supersedes its humanitarian goals.

It is also interesting to note that BJP’s stance on refugees has completely turned around in the last decade. In 2003 when 213 “Bangladeshi citizens” were stranded in the no man’s land between India and Bangladesh, neither country accepted them. Yet the BJP, in 2014, declared itself as a “natural home for persecuted Indians” and extended long-term visas in various states and provided citizenship to Hindus from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The constant emphasis on granting refuge on the basis of religion is in keeping with the Hindutva ideology popularly advocated by the current government.

The bill, if passed and made into an act, could be challenged and struck down by the judiciary later because of its unconstitutional nature — the provisions go against the secularism enshrined under the preamble. The government’s stance of helping refugees only if they fall under the category of persecuted religious minorities is heavily biased.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 may be presented as a move to protect the religious minorities in other countries from being persecuted but, the underlying issue clear: the bill is meant to address the BJP’s stated objective of making India the “Hindu Homeland.” The provisions blatantly ignore Muslims in the protection clauses and mention only religious minorities in Muslim-dominated countries. Further, the bill will change the demographics of the border states. The Bill adds to an ominous trend of a government which is not afraid of pushing a religious ideology, even when it is in contravention of the Constitution, in order to further its own political agenda.

Source: The Trouble With India’s New Citizenship Bill | The Diplomat

Keeping K2 (European Human Rights Court Decision on Citizenship-Stripping) in Perspective | Just Security

Good analysis of the impact of the recent ruling:

Strasbourg rejected as inadmissible an application by K2, a terror suspect born in Sudan but who acquired British citizenship by naturalization. At first glance this admissibility decision might seem to be of general significance but it is actually highly fact-specific and does not substantively address the single material general issue of principle raised by the applicant, i.e. the potentially discriminatory effect of the relevant citizenship-stripping laws. This is unsurprising since admissibility decisions – initial decisions about whether an application satisfies the stringent admissibility criteria and should proceed to be considered on its merits – are rarely of general significance, and this is especially so when, as in this case, the application is deemed inadmissible. It would be odd, therefore, if, as opined by the Guardian, the decision “is likely to encourage Home Office ministers to make greater use of their power to exclude terror suspects even if they are British citizens.”

Article 8

K2 complained that the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive him of his British citizenship violated his Article 8, ECHR right to respect for family and private life. The decision to deprive him of his citizenship was taken pursuant to the statutory power in section 40 (2) of the British Nationality Act 1981.

The ECtHR assessed this complaint by reference to established principles: by asking whether the revocation was arbitrary (i.e. was it in accordance with the law, was it accompanied by necessary procedural safeguards and did the authorities act diligently and swiftly) and by considering the consequences for the applicant.

The ECtHR held that the revocation was not arbitrary. The principal issue that it considered in this regard was the adequacy of procedural safeguards on the facts of the applicant’s case. The ECtHR also held that the consequences for the applicant did not violate his Article 8 rights because, for example, he was not rendered stateless by the deprivation of British citizenship (see here and here my 2014 posts on statelessness and citizenship stripping) and because his wife and child could visit him in Sudan or relocate there. The Article 8 claim regarding the decision to deprive K2 of his British citizenship was, therefore, held to be manifestly ill-founded. 

Similarly, the Article 8 claim regarding the Home Secretary’s decision to exclude him from the UK was manifestly ill-founded.

Article 14

K2 also complained that there had been a violation of the prohibition of discrimination in Article 14 (read together with Article 8). The ECtHR rejected this claim too.

It rejected K2’s claim that he had been treated differently from a non-national resident because he was denied an in-country right of appeal: the ECtHR held that the reason he had been denied the right of appeal was not because he was a British citizen but because he had chosen, voluntarily, to leave the UK.

More significantly, the ECtHR also rejected K2’s complaint that he had been treated differently from a British citizen considered a threat to national security but who did not hold a second nationality. However, the Court did not substantively address this complaint – essentially the only part of the case that could have been of general significance. The ECtHR rejected this complaint on the technical ground that K2 had not raised it before the domestic, English courts and he had, therefore, failed to exhaust domestic remedies (a pre-condition for a claim to be admissible before the ECtHR). Thus, the only material principled point in the case was not substantively decided.

Source: Keeping K2 (European Human Rights Court Decision on Citizenship-Stripping) in Perspective | Just Security

Senate proposes major amendment to Liberal citizenship legislation [C-6] : ‘It goes a long way’

As indicated during committee hearings, the amendment to restore procedural protections to those accused of fraud or misrepresentation was tabled in the Senate March 9:

The Liberal government’s update to immigration law is poised to be changed by the Senate after a major amendment was introduced Thursday.

Elaine McCoy, who acts as a “facilitator” for a de facto caucus of independent senators, tabled the amendment during debate over the third reading of Bill C-6.

If someone is served notice their citizenship is being revoked due to fraud or misrepresentation, the amendment requires the immigration minister to inform them of their right to appeal that decision in Federal Court.

Under Conservative legislation that took effect in May 2015 (referred to as Bill C-24), the process for citizenship revocation was significantly streamlined, and revocation notices have since ramped up significantly. The National Post reported last month that at least 236 people were served notice since the Liberals took power in November 2015.

Under the new process, people can submit written arguments as to why their citizenship should not be revoked, but there’s no clear option to have these arguments assessed by an independent judge.

It’s a loophole that many committee witnesses, in both the House of Commons and the Senate, argued should be fixed with the Liberal update. In the House, New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan attempted to move amendments but they were ruled out of scope at committee stage.

It’s in the Senate that proponents hoped to see the fix. Previous immigration minister John McCallum told senators he would “welcome” such an amendment, but new minister Ahmed Hussen said in Senate committee last week he would have to see the amendment before promising the government would commit to it — although “we are committed to procedural fairness.”

McCoy said the amendment is designed to give people “due process.” It puts decision-making back in the hands of the elected and accountable minister, she said, and allows the independent judiciary to review those decisions.

Drawing laughter from fellow senators, McCoy gave an example of how anonymous the revocation system has become. A revocation notice letter she obtained was signed with a citizenship analyst’s number rather than their name — “D 1816,” she said.

“This amendment is not going to fix everything, but it goes a long way,” McCoy said.

It’s been a “labour of many, many months,” the bill’s sponsor, Ratna Omidvar, added Thursday. The amendment is four pages long and determines exactly how the process would work — the “bare bones of due process,” Omidvar said, including a 60-day deadline for people to decide whether or not to take their appeal to court.

André Pratte, rose to support McCoy’s amendment. It addresses a “serious shortcoming,” he said, and will make the entire citizenship revocation process “much fairer.”

“Some will wonder why are we doing favours to people who have cheated the system. I would argue those are not favours, but fundamental human rights,” Pratte said.

Conservative senator Yonah Martin indicated Thursday she was concerned about the amendment being out of scope, and wondered why it wasn’t moved in committee. But McCoy said she was trying to be transparent by sharing the amendment with senators ahead of time and allowing it to be brought to the wider chamber.

Another Conservative senator, Daniel Lang, said he is concerned that some people could drag out the process over “years and years and years without any definitive decision being made.” Omidvar responded that court isn’t automatic. The amendment requires people to specifically ask for a court appeal in order for that appeal to be heard. Imposing a deadline on the court might not be possible, she added.

Debate was adjourned Thursday and the Senate now enters a two-week break, meaning votes on the amendment and the bill can’t happen until at least the week of March 28. If the Senate passes an amended version, the House of Commons will have to decide whether or not to accept the amendment before the bill can become law.

Source: Senate proposes major amendment to Liberal citizenship legislation: ‘It goes a long way’ | National Post

The text of the amendment can be found here: Motion in Amendment

Canadians abroad have a right to vote too: Frank and O’Brien

The reply to Rob Vineberg and my earlier article (Canadian expats shouldn’t have unlimited voting rights – Bill C-33 critique). As behind paywall, sharing full draft.

Weak on numbers, just relying on APF overall numbers (which include children and permanent residents) and not acknowledging the range of government data available that captures to a greater extent the degree of connection (summarized in our article).

And their reference to s.3 of the Charter avoids the key question: can s. 1 “reasonable limitations” be invoked to restrict voting of non-resident Canadians to some extent. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that restrictions can be justified and the appeal to the Supreme Court was suspended pending C-33.

Our brief to the House committee will counter these arguments, as well as being data rich, unlike Frank and O’Brien who skirt the numbers and connection issue:


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, March 8, 2017 12:00 AM

Bill C-33 recognizes the right to vote of Canadians living outside the country by removing the arbitrary limit for those abroad five years or more.

Contrary to the views in the recent Hill Times article “Canadian expats shouldn’t have unlimited voting rights,” by Andrew Griffith and Robert Vineberg, Canadians should view our citizens abroad as assets and ambassadors for our country, whose charter-enshrined right to vote must be protected.

The connections of and commitments to Canada of citizens living abroad should not be understated. In examining the right to vote of Canadians abroad, advocates have not used “a general estimate of over one million expatriates, without any assessment of the degree of connection that expatriates have with Canada.”

Rather, we have relied on comprehensive research by an independent think-tank (the Asia Pacific Foundation), which found that at the time of study, there were approximately 2.8 million Canadians abroad, the size of an average Canadian province. Approximately half of these Canadians have been abroad for five years or more and are of voting age, though some were not prohibited from voting by the five-year rule because of a number of exceptions to the prohibition.

Still, well over a million Canadians were prohibited from voting. There is no dispute that not all Canadians abroad will take up the right to vote. The evidence, though, is that many Canadians abroad have strong ties to and care deeply about Canada. Of Canadians abroad surveyed by the Asia Pacific Foundation, two-thirds had left Canada for work-related reasons, 94 per cent had visited Canada since moving abroad and 69 per cent planned to return to Canada in the near future. More than 60 per cent identified more closely with Canada than with their country of residence. Most were born in Canada and solely Canadian citizens. They currently have no right to vote anywhere.

Many non-residents pay taxes to Canada, including property taxes, taxes on Canadian source investment income and taxes on their pensions, among others. In 2009, non-resident individuals paid almost $900-million in taxes to Canada. That said, Canada long ago discarded the exclusionary notion of tying voting to property or wealth.

It also is not correct to say that Canadian citizens living abroad are not subject to or affected by Canadian laws. As a starting point, their very right to be abroad, on their Canadian passport, and their ability to obtain employment in another country, is based on Canadian laws and multilateral agreements (e.g. NAFTA). They are further affected by laws governing family members living in Canada. Importantly for the many who intend to return in the near future, they are affected by the short- and long-term direction the country is taking.

What is missing from an analysis that lays out a host of options for deciding which Canadians will be allowed to vote (those abroad for the first 10 years, those with a minimum residency requirement of three years or 25 years) is the critical point: the right to vote is not a matter of policy and it is not subject to popular sentiment. Rather, the right to vote is a fundamental democratic right enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our charter guarantees that, “every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons….” The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and cannot be taken away at the whim of Parliament.

When Parliament tried to limit the right to vote for prisoners, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the limits as breaching the charter right. If we protect the right to vote of individuals convicted of the most heinous crimes, why would we disenfranchise citizens who are passionate about Canada, many of whom are abroad for employment reasons and intend to return? If Canadians abroad make the effort to vote from abroad, they care deeply about this country. These are Canadians we should embrace, not reject.

There is simply no air of reality to Griffith and Vineberg’s unsupported claim that restoring voting rights to Canadians abroad can or will devalue the voting rights for resident Canadians. When it comes to the sacred voting rights of all Canadians, alarmist policy proposals, which are little more than flawed solutions chasing imaginary problems, do not deserve serious consideration.

Bill C-33 should pass in its current form. It is drafted to recognize the right to vote of all Canadian citizens. Indeed, the government should take a further step and discontinue its opposition to the legal challenge to the five-year prohibition. Canadians abroad are entitled to a legal acknowledgment that all Canadian citizens are guaranteed the right to vote and are not at the mercy of each new government’s legislative choices.

Source: Canadians abroad have a right to vote too – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI) Report on C-6 Citizenship Act Changes

The text of the committee report, dated 7 March 2017. presented to the full Senate for Third Reading:

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of December 15, 2016, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Your committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,


Observations to the Tenth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill C-6)

Language Exemptions: The committee observes a need for greater flexibility to allow exemptions to the language and knowledge testing requirements in order to obtain citizenship. While Bill C-6 makes changes to the age group that is required to take language and knowledge tests, there are other exceptional circumstances that can prevent a person from learning English or French which are not addressed by the bill. These circumstances may involve social, or physical and mental health factors. The committee heard that people from different socio-economic backgrounds have differential ability and capacity to acquire a new language. The committee suggests that the scope and accessibility of exemptions to language and knowledge testing should be reviewed with the goal of ensuring that applicants do not experience unreasonable delays or hardship to obtain citizenship.

Smart Permanent Resident Cards: During the committee’s hearings on Bill C-6, the committee was made aware that keeping a record of residency requirements would be easier with “smart” Permanent Resident Cards. The committee heard from one witness that the benefit of the smart card system is the maintenance of an accurate record of a person’s time spent in Canada would be kept. This will allow for more transparency on citizenship applications. Therefore, the committee urges the government to review and consider the implementation of a smart card residency program.

Fees: The committee also notes that citizenship application fees are rising at an accelerated pace. In February 2014, an individual application fee cost $100. Today, the cost is $530. This is more than a 500 per cent increase. There is an additional $100 right of citizenship fee. Altogether, the cost to acquire citizenship for a family of four with two minor children is $1,460. When extra costs such as language training and testing are taken into consideration, the costs are much higher. High citizenship fees can present a significant financial burden to potential applicants, and could act as a barrier for traditionally low income groups such as those with disabilities, single mothers and minorities. To ensure that potential applicants are not barred from citizenship based solely on their income, the committee advises the government to consider lowering these fees.

Source: Report details – Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

John Ivison: Immigration focus should be on outcomes, not values

While I agree with Ivison (and Anglin) on focusing on outcomes, not meaningless values declarations, his characterization of the repeal of revocation from dual nationals convicted of terrorism or treason can hardly be called “pandering,” given that polling indicated strong support for the Conservatives on this issue.

In fact, the Conservatives “pandered” by making revocation part of C-24 when available evidence indicates revocation would not be a deterrent and that revocation would most likely be found to violate the Charter, given different treatment for dual (or multiple) nationals compared to Canadian nationals only (and the list of those convicted and charged includes both categories).

While the other changes could be labelled as “pandering,” they could also labelled as “responding” to the concerns of new Canadian voters, irrespective of the merits or not of the original policies and subsequent changes:

The Conservatives reformed the system over their time in power, so that family class immigration was on the decline (down 18 per cent in 2014), while economic immigration was on the rise (up 11 per cent). New programs such as the Express Entry system were introduced to speed the application process for people with the skills Canada needs.

But the 2015 election meant a change of emphasis. The Liberals promised to prioritize family reunification, granting points under the Express Entry system to applicants with siblings in Canada and doubling the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents.

Immigration targets have been raised to 300,000; visa requirements on Mexico have been lifted; language requirements have been watered down for younger and older applicants; while the residency requirement for citizenship has been reduced to three years from four, one of the lowest among peer countries.

Perhaps the most egregious example of political pandering was the repeal of the law that revoked citizenship for dual citizens convicted of terrorism or treason. If you can have your citizenship revoked for misrepresentation, does it make sense that you are able to keep it after being caught planning to explode truck bombs in downtown Toronto, as was the case with Zaharia Amara, ringleader of the Toronto 18 terror group, who recently saw his citizenship reinstated?

Justin Trudeau’s pledges on immigration had the desired impact — a shift in allegiance of a number of visible minority communities to the Liberals.

But they made no sense from a policy perspective. Their adoption has created an opportunity for the Conservative Party to make a pitch to voters who agree that immigration is a necessity for economic growth, yet do not believe parties should use bad policy in a bidding war for votes.

The idea to increase the number of face-to-face interviews for immigrants is a good one, but the rest of Leitch’s plan is unworkable. As Howard Anglin, a former chief of staff to Jason Kenney when he was immigration minister, wrote recently in iPolitics, the Conservatives considered a values pledge for new citizens. After looking at examples from Australia and the Netherlands, they concluded such pledges were “empty exercises.”

“Even assuming one could agree on a list of values that newcomers would pledge to uphold (would Conservatives trust Trudeau to draft this? Would Liberals have trusted Stephen Harper to?), it would be about as meaningful as clicking ‘accept’ on a computer program’s ‘terms of use’ and, in practice, even less enforceable.”

A more sensible immigration policy would forget about “values” and concentrate on outcomes — where the focus is on attracting smart workers who will help Canada navigate an age of automation and job displacement.

As author Peter C. Newman once noted: “When a nation’s elite is three generations removed from steerage, it cannot afford too many pretensions.”

Source: John Ivison: Immigration focus should be on outcomes, not values | National Post

Dutch love-child fathered by First Nations’ Canadian veteran finds lost identity, gets citizenship

A nice story about one “lost Canadian” whose situation was addressed in the further measures regarding “lost Canadians” in the 2014 C-24 legislation, reminding us of the complexities of families and identities:

Six weeks before Christmas a retired Dutch carpenter named Will van Ee met with Sabine Nolke, Canada’s ambassador to the Netherlands at the Canadian embassy in The Hague. Van Ee brought a small bottle of liqueur crafted in his small hometown of Sas van Gent, near the Belgian border, as a gift.

The two drank coffee and chatted for about an hour. Conversation shifted from the German-born ambassador’s roots to van Ee’s father’s war record to their shared passion for Canada before a photographer arrived to capture what was, for van Ee, an occasion 70 years in the making.

It was the day Van Ee, the illegitimate son of an aboriginal Canadian soldier and a Dutch girl who met during the end days of the Second World war, became a Canadian.

“I am a carpenter, a bricklayer and a furniture-maker,” van Ee says from Holland. “So I have always said, well, my body is definitely Dutch. But, in my heart, I am a Canadian, because that is how I truly feel, and I feel very connected to my native roots.”

Van Ee spent years searching for his Canadian family. Now he is a full-status member of the Sagamok Anishnawbeck First Nation in Northern Ontario, has a totem pole in his backyard (that he carved) and, after his November meeting with the ambassador – his Canadian citizenship.

It is a lost identity that stayed hidden from him until well into adulthood.

The Dutch refer to “the wild summer of 1945.” The war was over and about 170,000 Canadian soldiers were stationed in a country that nearly starved to death under German occupation. Young people let loose. Couples, from two different worlds, drew close. Dutch clergy scolded the older generation for letting their daughters run wild. The Canadian military scolded the soldiers, while Ottawa took the position that children born out of wedlock to Canadian servicemen were not Canada’s responsibility. But the party didn’t stop. There were 7,000 illegitimate births in Holland in 1946.

Will van Ee was one of them.

His mother, Hendrike Herber, married Albert van Ee a few years later. The couple had seven additional children. The eldest harboured suspicions about his true origins, and thought he might actually be Japanese or Italian.

“I was the only sibling with dark skin,” van Ee says, chuckling. “The real Dutch — all blond hair and blue eyes — but not me.”

But he was loved and happy, and only became interested in digging into the past after getting married in the late 1970s. His mother grew quiet when he started asking questions. Van Ee believes out of a sense of “shame,” and from knowing, perhaps, that her true “love,” wasn’t the man she married. The truth came out after a cousin gave van Ee an old photograph. Hendrike is glowing in the image, alongside a beaming Canadian soldier named Walter Majeki. Van Ee’s aunt told her nephew that their family loved Walter, and then he had left.

“My mother once told my wife that had Walter called for her — even after she had children with Albert — that she would have gone to Canada,” van Ee says.

Courtesy Will van Ee

Courtesy Will van EeWill van Ee is now a Canadian citizen and a full-status member of the Sagamok Anishnawbeck First Nation.

But how to find Walter, almost 40 years after the fact, in a pre-Google world? Van Ee enlisted Olga Rains, a Dutch war bride in Peterborough, Ont., dedicated to reuniting other so-called “Liberation” children with their Canadian families. (Post-war estimates put the number of European-born children fathered — and abandoned — by Canadian soldiers at 30,000.)

Rains told van Ee that his father appeared to be First Nation. She had Walter Majeki’s photo published in several Canadian newspapers. In 1984, the son he left behind picked up the phone and dialed a number for Walter’s brother, Neil, in Latchford, Ont.

“I was shaking,” van Ee recalls.

Soon after he was on a flight to Toronto to meet his uncle and a cousin, Richard.

“When my father first saw Willy getting off that plane he said to me, ‘My God, there is Walter, my own brother,’ ” Richard Majeki says from North Bay, Ont. “Willy was a Majeki from the get-go.”

The story, as van Ee heard it from the Majeki clan and his father’s oldest childhood friends — and that he believes in his heart to be true, is that Walter returned from the war with every intention of sending for Hendrike. But his mother forbid the relationship. She said European girls were “no good.” Richard Majeki recalls a conversation with his father, Neil, in which he said that Walter spoke to him of Hendrike on only one occasion. Walter said that he hoped she would love and “look after” their child. And then he moved to Milwaukee, leaving behind a box of photographs of the Dutch girl he fell for during the wild summer of 1945.

Walter worked in a brewery. He married an American. They started a family. He died in 1972.

“I believe 100 per cent that my parents truly loved one another,” van Ee says. “It changed me, finding my father — even though we never met. I came to wish that I had started looking for him much earlier in my life.”

The Sagamok Anishnawbeck First Nation welcomed van Ee as one of its own at a traditional ceremony in Massey, Ont. Sweet-grass was burned, a pipe smoked and van Ee informed that his ancestors had “tears in their eyes,” over his return.

“I felt something that day,” he says.

He went fishing with his father’s best friends off Manitoulin Island. They said they felt as though their old friend had come home to them. Uncle Neil gave van Ee two miniature totem poles as gifts. The Dutch carpenter carved a giant replica — and put it in his backyard.

“We are proud to know Willy,” Richard Majeki says. “He is one of us.”

Van Ee wrote to Walter’s widow in Milwaukee asking if he could visit. He received a reply through a lawyer requesting he never contact the family again.

“That was hard,” he says.

What van Ee has found in three trips to Northern Ontario over the past 30 years is a sense of belonging.

“I now know where I come from,” he says.

Wilhemus van Ee became a full-status member of his tribe in 1992. But getting Canadian citizenship was more complicated. Involving, as it did – until the legislation was amended in 2015 — an archaic law barring individuals born out of wedlock to a foreign mother, prior to 1947, the right to citizenship.

“My father fought for Canada and here I was fighting to become Canadian,” van Ee says.

Four weeks after his audience with the ambassador, the 70-year-old received his Canadian passport. He is planning a trip to Canada soon.

Source: Dutch love-child fathered by First Nations’ Canadian veteran finds lost identity, gets citizenship | National Post