moved that the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, be concurred in.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this important motion before the House, the concurrence motion.
What we are dealing with is essentially seeking authority from the House to expand the scope of Bill . Bill S-245 is a Senate bill that is before the House to address the situation of those who are commonly known as “lost Canadians”. Bill S-245 would amend the Citizenship Act to allow Canadians who previously lost their citizenship due to the age 28 rule to regain their citizenship. The age 28 rule means that second-generation Canadians born abroad were subject to the laws of citizenship under the former section 8 of the Citizenship Act, which required them to apply to certify their citizenship before they turned 28 years old.
In 2009 the Conservatives repealed this section through Bill . However, the legislation did not restore citizenship to those who lost their citizenship prior to 2009. This oversight created major problems for many Canadians, as they somehow could lose their citizenship status as they turned 28. Many of them actually did not even know that was the situation they were faced with. It was only when applying for their passport, for example, that they realized they had lost their citizenship.
Bill seeks to fix the age 28 rule. However, the rule does not address other situations where Canadians have lost their citizenship. The archaic provisions of the Citizenship Act have resulted in many other lost Canadians, and New Democrats seek to actually fix this problem.
Mr. Speaker, 14 years ago, Bill passed in this House and came into force, and as a result of that, many people lost their citizenship rights. In fact, it created a scenario where Canada's Citizenship Act, for this group of lost Canadians, in many ways was not charter-compliant. For decades some Canadians have found themselves even to be stateless due to a number of these archaic immigration laws.
In 2007, the UN's Refugees magazine listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making its own people stateless. In 2009, as I mentioned, the Conservatives said that they were going to fix the lost Canadian issue with Bill . Sadly, this did not happen. Worse still, the Conservatives created a brand new group of lost Canadians, and today we have an opportunity before us to fix that.
Bill , the bill that was introduced by Senator Martin, is now before the committee for citizenship and immigration, and the bill aims to address this group of lost Canadians, lost due to the age 28 rule. I want to be very clear that the NDP wholeheartedly supports ensuring those who one day woke up and found themselves without Canadian status are made whole. This absolutely needs to be done. However, it is the NDP's strongest view that the scope of Bill S-245 is too narrow. The NDP wants to seize this opportunity to fix the lost Canadian issue once and for all.
Currently, there is a large group of Canadians who are deemed to be second-class citizens, due to the Conservatives' first-generation cut-off rule brought on by the Harper administration in 2009. Bill ended the extension of citizenship to second-generations born abroad. By stripping their right to pass on citizenship to their children if they were born outside of Canada, the Canadian government has caused undue hardship to many families. For some, it means separating children from parents. Some even find themselves stateless.
I spoke with Patrick Chandler. He is a Canadian who, while born abroad, spent most of his life in Canada. As an adult, he worked abroad, married someone from another country and had children. He was later offered a job in British Columbia. When he moved back to Canada, he had to leave his wife and children behind because he could not pass on his citizenship to his children. He had to go through an arduous process to finally reunite with them a year later.
There are many families being impacted in this way, and it is wrong. We should not put Canadians in those kinds of situations, yet here we are and that is what they have to suffer through. There are many families being impacted.
Another family faced with this situation is the family of Emma Kenyon. In fact, Emma lived here in Canada, as did her husband. However, they worked abroad and they met abroad. They had a child abroad. That child is stateless because neither Emma nor her husband has status in that country. They are now in a situation where they have a stateless child born to a Canadian. This is so wrong, and we need to fix this problem. Immigration officials said to them at the time that, before their child was born, they had a choice. They could actually travel back to Canada and have their child be born in Canada.
This, of course, did not make any sense. It was during the COVID period, when, basically, it was unsafe for her to travel. If Emma did travel back to Canada, she would be without a family doctor or a gynecologist to care for her pregnancy. None of that made any sense, but that is what she was told to do. Of course, she did not risk the birth of her child in that situation. She did not risk her own health either. As a result, her child was born abroad and is now in a stateless situation. It should never have been this way.
Families are so frustrated with these archaic immigration laws, especially with the stripping of the rights of immigrants having children born abroad. Those rights were stripped because of the Conservatives’ Bill . Families are now taking the government to court to address this inequity. The Conservatives deemed first-generation Canadians born abroad to be less worthy and less Canadian, even though many had grown up in Canada. The implications are so serious that people are taking the government to court.
At the citizenship and immigration committee, when the opportunity arises, I will be moving amendments to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else. The NDP amendments would ensure that first-generation, born-abroad Canadians would have the right to pass on their citizenship rights to their children based on a connections test. They would also retroactively restore citizenship to persons who have not been recognized as citizens since the second-generation cut-off rule was enacted in 2009.
The same principles would apply to adoptees as well. We need to make sure that individuals and families that adopt children are not going to be caught in this bad situation. For those who do not wish to have citizenship conferred upon them, upon notification to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, these changes would not apply to them.
This will mean that people like Patrick, whom I mentioned, and people like Emma and her family would not have to suffer the challenges they face as a result of Bill ’s stripping of their rights.
In addition to the amendments related to the first-generation cut-off rule, I will also be moving amendments to symbolically recognize those who died before citizenship was conferred upon them. For example, many of Canada's war heroes fought and died for Canada. However, they were never recognized as Canadians. The NDP amendments would also honour them and recognize them as citizens, retroactive to birth.
The situation with what I call “war heroes” is this. The first Governor General of Canada, in 1867, right after Confederation, said that Canadians were a new “nationality”. However, according to Canada's immigration laws, Canadian citizenship did not exist prior to January 1, 1947. That means that no soldiers who fought and died for Canada in battles like Vimy Ridge or D-Day are deemed to be Canadians.
Bill was supposed to fix this, but it did not happen. Don Chapman, who has fought for so long on the issue of lost Canadians and trying to rectify those concerns, indicated that “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.”
Symbolically recognizing those who fought for Canada and ensuring that they are recognized as citizens would have zero implications, no legal consequence whatsoever or liability for the government. It is really a strictly symbolic gesture, and it is an important one, especially for family members of loved ones who fought and died for Canada. I see some of these family members on Remembrance Day every year. Many veterans went to war and fought for Canada, and never came back. We should remember them as Canadians.
Beyond this, there are a couple of other categories of lost Canadians, who, due to one of the discriminatory rules, such as the gender discrimination rule that existed in Canada, were not recognized as citizens. The NDP's amendments would aim to fix that as well. Suffice it to say, there are long lists of people who have been hurt by this set of rules, and successive governments have said they would fix it. However, it never came to be. Now we have a chance to actually do that work. It is important we do that work now.
I fear that the Conservatives would not support this effort. At committee, when the senator and the sponsor of the bill were before us at committee to talk about this bill, the Conservatives indicated they wanted to just ensure the bill would be left as is and address only the 28-year rule, not deal with the other categories of lost Canadians. To me, that is wrong. Their argument is that it is too complicated, that we do not have time and that if the matter goes back before the Senate, then an election might be called and the bill might just die. That is, of course, if the Conservatives want that to happen.
We could actually work together, collaboratively, to say that we are going to fix this problem once and for all, for lost Canadians. We want to make sure that people like Emma Kenyon, whose child was born stateless, would never be in that situation. We could actually make that happen by amending the bill.
I know that Conservative members, even their leader, would say that they support the immigrant community and that they are there for them. If they are there for them, first, I would say that Bill should never have stripped of their rights the immigrants who became Canadians, such as myself. If I had a child born abroad, my child should have citizenship conferred upon them. The Conservatives took that away. We have a chance today to fix that, to say that immigrants, such as myself, would be able to have the same rights as those who were born in Canada, and be able to pass on their citizenship rights to their children born abroad.
To be sure that there is a connection between individuals like that, we could put forward a connections test, such as, for example, having been in Canada for 1,095 days. This happens to be the same number of days required, through the Citizenship Act, for people getting their citizenship. We could put in provisions like that to ensure there is a clear connection between them and Canada. There is no reason to say that we are not going to do any of this and that we are just going to strip them of their rights and not recognize them. Let us fix this once and for all.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today to speak to the motion to concur in the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, with regard to expanding the scope of Bill , which seeks to address lost Canadians.
While the bill is well intended in its aim to address the remaining lost Canadians, as drafted, it falls short of correcting what I see as the key challenges on this file. As a matter of fact, it is something that I spoke to in our first debate on this bill when it came to the House.
Before outlining the concerns that I have with Bill as written, I will briefly touch on the circumstances that led to the emergence of lost Canadians. The requirements and complexities of the first Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, and former provisions of the current Citizenship Act, created cohorts of people who lost or never had citizenship status. They are referred to as “lost Canadians”.
To address this issue, changes to citizenship laws that came into force in 2009 and 2015 restored status or gave citizenship for the first time to the majority of lost Canadians. Before the 2009 amendments, people born abroad beyond the first generation, that is, born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad, were considered Canadian citizens at birth, but only until they turned 28 years old. This is sometimes referred to, as my colleague mentioned previously, as the “28-year rule”. If these individuals did not apply to retain their citizenship before they turned 28, they would automatically lose it. Some people were not even aware they had to meet these requirements and lost their citizenship unknowingly. These people who lost their citizenship because of this rule are often referred to as “the last cohort of the lost Canadians”. Since we began this debate in the chamber, many of them have written to me and other members of the immigration committee.
To prevent future losses, the age 28 rule was repealed in 2009. At the same time, the law was changed to establish a clear first-generation limit to the right of automatic citizenship by descent. This means that, today, children born outside Canada to a Canadian parent are Canadian citizens from birth if they have a parent who is either born in Canada or naturalized as a Canadian citizen. Unlike the former retention provisions of the Citizenship Act, those children do not need to do anything to keep their Canadian citizenship. Those born in the second or subsequent generations abroad do not automatically become Canadians at birth. This first-generation limit is firm on who does or does not have a claim to citizenship by descent.
I would like to lean into this with a personal experience I have had with this, with my own two daughters. As is well known, I am a citizen of two countries, born Canadian but raised in Israel. At a certain point in my early adulthood, I chose to return to Israel to be with my family there. I got married and had my eldest daughter. She was born there, and upon her birth I applied for Canadian citizenship for her. Subsequently, we returned to Canada, in approximately 2008, and my second daughter was born here in Toronto, where we live today, in York Centre. She also obviously has Canadian citizenship, having been born here. However, if my eldest daughter chooses for some reason to live elsewhere in the world, such as in Israel, where she is currently living this year, and if she has children, my grandchildren will not be Canadian, even though she has lived here the majority of her life. Although her core ties to Canada are clear and well committed to, she has lost the ability to confer that citizenship onto her children as a result of the Bill change that was made under the Harper government in 2009. Ironically, if my younger daughter, who was born here, were to have children abroad, they would automatically be Canadian, as she would be able to bestow upon them what I was able to bestow upon her. Herein lie some of the problems we have been discussing as colleagues in this House.
I can appreciate the work of Senator Martin in wanting to narrow it down to a specific group of individuals, but, frankly, as my colleague from the Bloc said, this is about dignity, compassion, and a sense of heritage and connection that is being stripped away from many, so I will continue to talk about this. There are many people who are born abroad or adopted from abroad to a Canadian parent beyond the first generation. These individuals are not citizens, but still feel they have a very close tie to Canada, just like my daughter does, and also see themselves as lost Canadians.
Currently, these individuals can only become Canadian citizens by going through the immigration process. That is to say, they must first qualify and then apply to become permanent residents. Then after the required time, they must apply to become citizens. In some specialized cases, people born abroad in the second generation are eligible to apply for a grant of citizenship, but only in exceptional circumstances.
Turning back to Bill , though it is well-intentioned as written, it does not address some of the remaining lost Canadians. Bill is targeting only the lost Canadians who lost citizenship because of the age 28 rule for those who were born abroad after the first generation and had already turned 28 years old and lost their citizenship before the law changed in 2009.
The bill as written excludes people who applied to retain citizenship but were refused. This is an issue because those who never applies to keep their citizenship would have their citizenship restored by the bill as written, while those who took steps to retain their citizenship but were refused would not benefit from this bill. Recognizing that the age 28 rule was problematic for all, it is my hope that the committee will consider amendments to restore the citizenship status of all those impacted by the former age 28 rule, which has since been repealed.
The committee heard compelling testimony from witnesses that precisely highlighted the problem with excluding one of the cohorts impacted by the age 28 rule. As I understand it, the committee for immigration also received dozens of written submissions from stakeholders both inside and outside of Canada. As a matter of fact, some of those stakeholders have also written to me in light of my previous interventions in the chamber on this matter. It would seem that there were many people watching Bill closely, like me, as parents. What is interesting is that almost all of the written submissions point out the challenges that exist for people born abroad in the second generation or beyond.
Given the call from stakeholders, I feel strongly that the committee should be empowered to at least consider solutions for some of the other people who consider themselves to be lost Canadians. This is the subject of today's debate. Does the House support the request from committee to expand the scope of the bill to see what could be done for the other lost Canadians? I think we must support this.
My story with my daughters is really not unusual for many of the constituents I represent in York Centre whose children go back and forth between Israel and get married here or in the United States. The Jewish community has very close cross-border ties, and these families, like many Canadian families, sometimes have some fluidity due to faith, culture or language and have other strong connections. They are watching this closely as well.
That is why I think we should be supporting this, because those who were born to a Canadian parent abroad beyond the first generation, including those adopted from abroad, are not Canadian citizens but feel they should be because they have a strong connection to Canada, similar to my older daughter. To address these other lost Canadians, the bill could be amended by introducing a pathway to citizenship for people in this exact situation.
I was really disappointed to hear about the reaction by Conservative members when the motion to expand the scope of Bill was presented at committee. They are, of course, entitled to their opinion, but rather than give serious or substantive arguments about why the scope should or should not be expanded, some members took the opportunity to make threats about what they would do if the scope were expanded. This is actually very disappointing. The member for stated:
...do we really want to have the immigration committee all of a sudden drop into a broader review of the Citizenship Act? If we are opening up this bill beyond the scope of what is here right now, I will propose amendments that are well beyond the scope of this bill. There are a lot of things I would like to see changed in the Citizenship Act. I will come prepared with those things, and we will be debating them.
I really take issue with this approach. I am not a member of the committee so I do not know what confidential amendments the members have already put on notice for the bill, but the Conservative member for absolutely does not have that information. We do know that. When she made these comments, she was fully aware of what members were going to propose.
Furthermore, the member for was pretty clear in her comments on the motion that she was not trying to make changes to some completely unrelated section of the Citizenship Act. As a matter of fact, she said that today as well. It is quite something for a member to threaten to overwhelm committee processes by trying to propose amendments that are, in her words, “well beyond the scope”.
I am disappointed, and it is unfortunate that the Conservatives are closed off to the urging they heard from stakeholders and that all members heard at committee from witnesses. I am not alone in having been put off by that fact, and I want to read into the record a communication that I understand was sent to committee members after the motion to expand the scope was moved at committee last Monday. I think it has a lot of meaning for all of us listening to this debate today. It says:
Dear Members of the Citizenship and Immigration committee of the House of Commons,
First I would like to thank the committee for taking the time to reflect on and discuss Bill S-245. Although the current language of the bill will have no effect on my status as a Lost Canadian, I am hopeful that this bill will help to pave the way for a path to citizenship for myself and others who are lost.
My story is like that of many other Lost Canadians. I live a life unfairly exiled from the country that my mother lives in. She lives alone in Haida Gwaii, and as she grows older, I wonder how I should be able to care for her, when it is illegal for me to live in the same country as her. I will not at this time speak to the immense pain, suffering and grief I live with every day.
I am not writing to you to tell you another story of a Lost Canadian. I am here instead, asking that the language you use while discussing Canadian citizenship be more sensitive and fair to those with ancestral ties to Canada. I do not believe it is the members intention to further marginalize those Canadians who have been stripped of their ties to Canada and it is for that reason that I make this plea to you all.
Time and time again, when discussing citizenship and lost Canadians, House members use the words “immigrant” and “citizen” as if they are interchangeable. The intent of Bill S-245 has nothing to do with immigration, and everything to do with citizenship. As a Lost Canadian, when I am referred to in the same sentence as someone looking to immigrate I am astounded. I am heartbroken. Above all, I fear that if we are constantly grouped together with those individuals looking to immigrate to Canada, that we will never be seen for who we really are—individuals who have been unjustly stripped of our birthright to Canadian Citizenship.
From an outside perspective it seems that the members inability to separate these two concepts—citizenship vs. immigration—while trying to address the issue being studied in bill S-245 is creating divisiveness over expanding the bill to make it fair and just for those of us who have been unfairly stripped of, or denied our birthright to Canadian citizenship.... It is disingenuine to speak of this as if it were an immigration issue. [Such language]...continues to reinforce the emotional damage and trauma we experience daily living in exile.
It goes on:
The intent of bill S-245 is to extend Canadian citizenship. To threaten amendments to Bill S-245 such as mandating in person citizenship ceremonies, is not only ridiculously out of scope for this bill, it is insulting to the masses of Lost Canadians simply looking to return home.
I understand that the complexities surrounding this issue of Lost Canadians and second generation born abroad Canadians make the situation difficult to understand. But until the members of this committee, those with the most influence on legislation regarding citizenship can themselves make the distinction between “Citizenship” and “Immigration” there will be no clear path forward for those of us who are lost.
So I beg of you. Lost Canadians are not immigrants. We are Canadians. The language used by the members should reflect that. The words spoken in this moment have much weight for those of us who are suffering. Please see us for who we are so that you may more fully open your minds and hearts, and let us in.... If you can see us as the Canadians we are then I believe this issue can be dealt with more clearly. This cannot be an issue where members let their views, beliefs or desires regarding—
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on this bill. I want to begin by thanking my constituents again for returning me to Parliament to serve them, to speak on their behalf and to bring the voice of Calgarians here to Ottawa, to our national Parliament. Every day, I think about how lucky each and every one of us is, all 338 of us, to be able to represent constituents in the House of Commons and work on their behalf.
I also want to start by saying that I am a Canadian who was born overseas; I happen to be one of those who were naturalized back in 1989. I was able to share that story when I was doing outreach activities on the Island of Montreal. I also talked to many new Canadians about their experiences of coming to Canada. I reminded them all the time that anyone could become a member of Parliament if they make the effort, tell the truth and have the work ethic and dedication. Representing people in this country in a legislative body is a great privilege, and we should never forget that.
I want to go over a few points very quickly, just to give an outline of the trouble I have with what is happening today with this concurrence of a report coming out of the immigration committee. There is the issue of timing and how we have come to this point, where the vote would now be necessary. I want to talk about the mover of this Senate bill, Senator Yonah Martin of British Columbia. I want to talk about Senate Bill , the original piece of legislation, and how Bill is basically the exact same bill.
I also want to speak briefly to process. This is not an issue related to the substance. I think many people agree on the substance; of course, Conservatives agree because this is a Conservative legislative initiative. It is very simple to understand why Conservatives, for example, would not do something like move amendments to a bill being proposed by a Conservative. It is because we all agree with it. We went before our caucus. We had a presentation. Of course we agree with it; it is a Conservative senator proposing a Conservative idea. That idea is the rightful restoration of Canadian citizenship to a particular group of Canadians, and we are talking about a small group that is affected.
The bill is very simple. It is all on one page. It is a simple idea that would address a specific group. This does not mean that others do not have a case for it to be restored. There is a legislative case for it to be done. However, this particular bill has been in the works in two minority Parliaments now to try to fix it. As we know, minority Parliaments are unpredictable, despite there being an NDP-Liberal coalition. Here, we have a government and an opposition party, and we do not know where one begins and the other one ends. We do not know when there could be an election; that would wipe out all the legislative initiatives being considered by the House and by the Senate.
That is exactly what happened to Bill . When the election was called on August 15, 2021, it wiped out all the legislative initiatives that were under way back then. Bill S-230, dealing with these lost Canadians, had already gone through the Senate. It had one meeting of consideration, with expert testimony being provided by government officials; this was useful in understanding that the contents of the legislation were correct and would in fact fix the situation that we are facing. We heard new testimony and new consideration on Bill .
The timing is the issue that I am hung up on. I do not know when an election could come. I want to expedite a bill like this, with no changes, in order to consider new legislation. The House is always free to do that. Any member of the House or any senator could table a private member's bill. In fact, senators can now legislate faster than we can, which I think is wrong. I hope some government members would agree with me on that. It is a separate legislative idea. Maybe there could be changes to the Standing Orders someday.
I know there is at least one member from Winnipeg who would agree with me that members of the House of Commons should be the ones legislating the most often, and senators should not do so as often or as quickly. Now we have a lottery system, and the Speaker drew the numbers. I am going to remind the Deputy Speaker of this, because I think I drew third from last when he was doing the draw. I really think there should have been a recount. I see another member from Montreal, from one of my alma maters, Concordia, saying that she drew a much better number than I did.
Timing is an issue in this matter. This is a group of lost Canadians who could have their citizenship restored. They would be made whole. If we made no amendments to the bill, once passed through the House of Commons, it would receive royal assent from the Governor General and be made law.
Any amendments we make at committee would then return to the House, and any report stage amendments would delay the passage of the bill. The bill could then go again for another set of reviews. I am sure that senators, when they agreed to pass this bill on an expeditious basis, were passing the original bill, Bill . They were passing a bill they had already considered and debated.
They are going to consider the debate that took place in the House. They are going to review why, for example, government officials before the committee in the House of Commons provided different information than some other government officials, though some of them were the same, at the Senate committee two years ago. They will wonder why the advice was slightly different and why they now have a problem with some of the wording in Bill . They say it does not address the issue as well.
When I looked at the titles of these government officials, they are the exact same positions. Some people have been promoted and some have moved to different positions.
I am sure senators will review the bill. That would be months of extra waiting. As the Senate considers the bill, it will have more witnesses come before the Senate committee, and then with whatever potential amendments the Senate might have, it will send the bill back to the House of Commons. I know I am supposed to call it “the other place”, but I feel Canadians at home should know that this might delay and potentially kill the bill. The bill may not become law if this does not get done.
How did we get to this particular situation? We have a terrific vice-chair on the immigration committee, the member for , who has been negotiating with the other parties in good faith. It is what I hope the government is doing during the public service strike by PSAC and at their negotiations at the table. The member has been negotiating in good faith and providing information to other parties, such as what our voting position is, what our concerns are and what type of subamendments we would consider.
We were considering some amendments that would strengthen some of the ideas we had heard and had talked about before the committee. The motion that was passed at committee, over our objections, broadens the scope beyond section 8 amendments to Bill . The way I interpreted the motion was that it would mean anything in Bill , the Citizenship Act, and that would be concurred in on a vote in the House of Commons. This sounds to me like a statutory review of Bill , so anything in the Citizenship Act could be done.
There are many things I have heard in my travels across Canada in meeting with both new Canadians and people from families that have lived in Canada for generations. They have issues with the Citizenship Act, such as how citizenship ceremonies are organized, and whether they are done in person or virtually, at a click. Some of those are also around the rules of specific lost Canadians. Is it right to put citizenship ceremonies on certain holidays, which were maybe not as major 40 years ago? Those are all issues that members should be mindful of.
When reading this motion, and I am not burdened by a legal education so I read it like a layman would read it, with the words as they are, and it says that it would go beyond section 8, which means that anything else in the Citizenship Act should be eligible for an amendment. We have an opportunity to help lost Canadians. We also have an opportunity to ensure there are no future lost Canadians, who might have missed a citizenship ceremony because of a holiday, travel or any number of other reasons.
We have come here because other parties have not been forthcoming in explaining their position. At committee, I moved a very reasonable amendment that would have provided more time for to consider new out-of-scope amendments. We have no in-scope amendments because we agreed with the contents of the bill.
It would have been good to have more time on out-of-scope amendments, and then we could have provided the amendments. We could have all had time to consider them within our caucuses. That is what our side does. We have a fulsome debate in our caucus where our members of Parliament and senators come to an agreement on different amendments that we might consider, especially if they are major amendments, such as this seems to be, a statutory review of the Citizenship Act.
We can now take a moment to talk about the mover of this bill, Senator Yonah Martin. I think many members of the House of Commons, and I hope of the other place, the Senate, would say that she is a very non-partisan member, a member who is able to work with all members, regardless of political affiliations, on any number of issues.
She has a big heart for the Korean-Canadian community and for the battle of Kapyong. She is mindful to remind us of the battle of Kapyong and how important it is to Canadians of Korean heritage every single year. She has been of huge assistance not only to Conservatives, but also to Canadians of Korean heritage all over Canada, by connecting them with their civic officials, with Canadian political and civic life, and with community organizations.
She has a bill, which she successfully negotiated through the Senate with no amendments. That is unusual. For many of us, when we put together private members' bills or motions, there is always that potential for amendments to come forward that we were not aware of, or were not considering.
This is a member who, at committee, specifically asked that we not make amendments because of the timing issue I mentioned right at the beginning. This is why I want to bring it up. She specifically said, when asked, that she did not want an expansion of the scope of the bill if it would delay the bill. That is what would happen here. There would be a delay of the bill.
She offered a solution, which was new pieces of legislation. The government can always table government legislation to help these Canadians, which they have identified through our witness process, through the submissions the committee received. That would be entirely okay. We could consider the merits.
The House of Commons has expedited bills in the past. We just did it last week. Portions of the budget were expedited through the House of Commons. It is possible to do these things, especially when there is consensus and we work collaboratively, which I heard a parliamentary secretary talk about.
Many members on that committee will agree that our vice-chair and the Conservatives work collaboratively. We were doing that when this was moved. We were working on a draft report in a committee, and at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration no less. We are more than happy to do that. The immigration committee has done a lot of work exactly in that manner, collaboratively, by everybody being upfront about the positions they will be taking and the concerns we have with amendments and different policy issues, as well as where we are coming from. That is another one.
I wanted to make sure I brought up Bill , which was the original version of the bill, in the previous Parliament, because I want to highlight the fact that, the committee on Bill S-230 in the Senate had one meeting to consider the details of the bill. We are going to be adding on basically new sections on lost Canadians. What I have found about the Citizenship Act, and I know many members will agree, especially those on the immigration committee, is how complicated it is. It is easy to make a mistake on dates, years, months, days and specific words, where we could have individuals lose their ability to pass on their citizenship to their children or grandchildren or not be able to retain it in cases of marriage.
I was born in Communist Poland, a country I always say does not exist anymore. It is a footnote in history. As a Canadian who was not born here, I know that the Citizenship Act is something to be mindful of. All my kids were born in Calgary, so they are not affected directly for things like the first generation rule, but others are. I absolutely recognize that, but there is an opportunity to legislate.
Another senator could put forward another Senate bill to address individuals, and we could again have an expedited debate to push it through the House if we could get to the terms and the words we all agree on. Like I said, in Bill , there were government officials who came before the committee in a previous Parliament to say that this wording is the exact wording to address the issue the senator is concerned about. The same government officials, at least with the same titles from the same department, said it actually needs to be changed because it might not do what one says it would do.
Now we are left with not knowing what types of amendments are going to be brought forward at the committee if this concurrence of the report passes of the motion that came out of the immigration committee. We just do not know. Nobody knows now what amendments will be brought forward, except for the mover of the amendment, who will be at the table behind closed doors, potentially in camera, considering these amendments. It will hopefully all be done in public.
It is important to remember none of the parties will be obliged to provide any new amendments out of scope to be considered. Like I said, there are lots of different situations we could look at.
I always have a Yiddish proverb to share. I was in Montreal at a synagogue on Saturday, a very observant one, and there is a great Yiddish proverb: Hope for miracles, but do not rely on one. It is unpronounceable for me in Yiddish, but it is indeed a good one. I always hope for miracles. I hope we can come to some type of consensus that this bill should be expedited in its current form.
I want to vote for it the way it is right now, and I think those on my benches want to do the same thing. We want to help these lost Canadians and restore, rightfully, their citizenship. There is an opportunity to help others, and that is what I hope this place would be good at. I hope it would be able to come to a consensus on new pieces of legislation that address certain things.
I am serving in my third Parliament, and I think this would set a bad precedent. To go into another member's bill, and over their objections, say that we are going to change their private member's bill or their Senate Bill, the idea they put forward, is a bad precedent.
I know it has happened off and on in the past 10 to 20 years. In those particular cases, the individual members have brought it up to me that it should not have happened that way. I really believe that for members who have an idea that they are bringing forward, we should honour their requests and have a simple up or down vote.
Even Senator Yonah Martin said that, if there are particular technical amendments to the way this legislation is worded that keep the intent and the principle she is trying to address, which is helping this particular group of lost Canadians have their citizenship regained, which is in the summary that is provided for the bill, and it uses the term “regain”, then she was okay with that. However, what we have talked about so far, and what I have heard from the and the member of the New Democrats, are things that are potentially far out of the scope of the original intent and principle of the bill. Here I have concerns.
I have expressed those concerns. I have made forceful promises. I intend to keep my forceful promises. I have done so at other committees, which I have been on, whether it be at the PROC committee, where I remember serving with other members to ensure that the intent of motions and bills was retained. Members would have a straight up or down vote on particular subjects, and that made it very clear what we were voting for and against.
Again, I see this as an opportunity. We do not know when the election could come. I do not want to send this back to the Senate. The Senate already has had its say on the matter. It has reviewed this piece of legislation. What I want to do is expedite this bill. I was ready to do that at the first meeting on Bill .
We could have maybe considered some particular amendments that were perhaps on the edge of what would be permissible. Looking to my vice-chair, I think it is fair to say that we were willing to consider them.
We had that conversation with the Liberal benches, and we were forthcoming with what our ideas were, what our concerns were and where we wanted to go. My expectation was that we gave it due consideration. We had received valuable insight, information and ideas from Canadians, both overseas and here, who had expressed concerns with different groups of lost Canadians.
We could have addressed those in other pieces of legislation, and then a senator could take up the case, or a member of any party could take up the case in a private member's bill, although probably not me, because, like I said, the Speaker drew me third from last, I believe. I still remember that, so I will probably not be one of those members.
The House can work collaboratively. I will give another example. On bereavement leave, the was kind enough to work with me before Christmas, and this was 2021, to insert part of my private members' bill on bereavement leave straight into Bill and then expedite it through the House.
To the 's saying that they were hoping we could work collaboratively, well, of course we can. There is even an example where we have done that. It was our shadow minister for labour at the time, the member for , who did it. It can be done, when people come in good faith at the negotiating table and we hammer out a deal. That deal was done before Christmas and Canadians in federal jurisdiction had bereavement leave provisions provided to them.
Those types of situations can happen. I call them legislative miracles, getting back to my Yiddish proverb. Legislative miracles can happen when people want to make change. That was a private member's bill that likely would have never passed. It had drawn such a high number that it would not have been able to pass. I would not have been able to have the opportunity to have it debated.
With that said, I have laid out my case of why we should vote down this report, and I move:
That the House proceed to Presenting Petitions.