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Results: 1 - 60 of 625
View Denis Blanchette Profile
NDP (QC)
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2015-06-19 11:11 [p.15343]
Mr. Speaker, as this parliamentary session winds down, let me tell you about the injustice one of my constituents is facing.
The son of a soldier, Edney Charbonneau joined our armed forces himself. After eight years of service, he became a federal government customs officer and investigator. He obtained a very high security clearance.
For his service he received commendations from Prime Minister Martin and Prime Minister Chrétien. Unfortunately, now that he has reached retirement age, Mr. Charbonneau cannot get his old age pension. Why not? He is not a recognized Canadian citizen. When his father was deployed to England during World War II, he married a British woman. Mr. Charbonneau, the child of that union, arrived in Canada at the age of two months.
Regardless of the circumstances—worthy of a novel in themselves—that led to this injustice, this man spent his entire life in Canada and paid all his taxes like a good citizen. Mr. Charbonneau deserves his old age pension, and this government should remove all the obstacles in recognition of his life's work.
View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tim Uppal Profile
2015-06-19 12:05 [p.15353]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.
View John McCallum Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McCallum Profile
2015-06-12 11:54 [p.15015]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Maclean's magazine, Paul Wells wrote that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was “delusional and culpably misleading capsule history of Canadian immigration policy” and concluded that “He’s one of the least impressive ministers in an increasingly weak government bench”.
The minister's goose may be cooked, but will he at least do the right thing and offer a sincere apology to Canadian Muslims?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-06-12 11:54 [p.15015]
Mr. Speaker, as some members know, I spent six years in Afghanistan. I saw first-hand the systematic oppression of women by extremists like the Taliban, who often forbade women to uncover their faces on pain of death.
I take offence to what the member said in the House yesterday. I take offence to what the Liberal Party said two days ago. I await their apology.
View John McCallum Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McCallum Profile
2015-06-12 11:55 [p.15015]
Mr. Speaker, despite what the minister just said, he was asked about niqabs and immediately answered about terrorists. There is incontrovertible video evidence of this that cannot be denied.
Why does the minister keep playing to his party's old immigration Reform Party base by attacking refugees and Muslims? Why does he do that? Why will he not do the right thing, reflecting that background that he just described, and apologize to Canadian Muslims?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-06-12 11:56 [p.15015]
Mr. Speaker, we all know that the member opposite has trouble taking responsibility for his own words, for the history of his own party, which has been anti-immigration, which has been against all of the reforms that have been undertaken since 2006.
The words he has ascribed to me were never spoken by me.
On behalf of all the women of Afghanistan, on behalf of all the victims of Taliban oppression, on behalf of all those who have been forced by pain of death not to uncover their faces, I would ask the member to apologize.
View Sana Hassainia Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it has come to my attention that permanent residents in my riding who were adopted and thought they received Canadian citizenship on their arrival in Canada have voted before. It was only when applying for a passport that they realized that they were not Canadians.
No proof of citizenship is required for getting added to the voter list. Applicants are simply asked whether they are Canadian citizens.
Does the government have any idea how many people who are on the voter list should not be? Does the government plan to tighten up the process to ensure that it takes more than just answering a yes or no question to exercise one's right to vote?
View Costas Menegakis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Costas Menegakis Profile
2015-05-29 12:00 [p.14350]
Mr. Speaker, the rules are very clear and specific. People have an opportunity to apply for the permanent residence cards through Canadian immigration streams. We have many, including economic streams, family reunification streams, and humanitarian streams.
Once people apply for their permanent residence card, if they adhere to the rules by staying in the country for the period of time that they are expected to stay here, they can apply for their Canadian citizenship.
View Tim Uppal Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Pickering—Scarborough East.
It is my honour to be here today and to speak in support of this very crucial national security bill, the anti-terrorism act, 2015. I am proud of the manner in which our Conservative government has managed this important file of national security.
Whether it be the response to the tragedies of late October, which we along with Canadians recognized instantly as terrorist attacks, or our measures to protect the value of Canadian citizenship, it is an honour to stand with our government on issues of national security.
It is a privilege to advocate for measures that keep Canadians safe, which is of course the first priority of any government. Regardless of the bill or motion that has been up for debate in this House, I feel a strong sense of duty when advocating for positions that Canadians truly care about, such as the mission in Iraq and Syria. Canadians will not tolerate the scourge of terrorism on our shores, which is why we must not allow the evils of ISIL to spread.
I would like to take this opportunity to first thank the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, to whom we are all very grateful. I would also like to thank the men and women who keep us safe on our shores, the RCMP, CSIS and police authorities across the country, who work tirelessly to keep us safe.
We, as parliamentarians, have an obligation to do what we can to help them in that very important job that they have. We have passed the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to protect the sacred values of Canadian citizenship. We have passed the Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act to clarify the ability of CSIS to operate overseas.
Now, we are advocating for the anti-terrorism act, legislation that would enable our national security agencies to keep pace with the ever-evolving threats to our national security. Canada, like our allies, needs to modernize our laws to arm our national security agencies in the fight against Jihadi terrorists who we know have declared war on Canada.
The anti-terrorism act would protect Canadians by allowing the federal government to share information that the government already has across departments, within government, for national security purposes. Today's threats evolve too quickly to risk vital information being trapped in bureaucracy. For example, if a consular services officer has information of suspicious activity that could actually prevent an attack, he or she must be able to inform the appropriate authorities.
The anti-terrorism act would protect Canadians by expanding the passenger protect program, also known as the no-fly list, to allow the government to deny boarding to all terrorist suspects, not merely those who we can prove are a risk to that specific flight. Today, radicalized individuals can board planes so long as they are not a risk to that aircraft. These people could disappear into terrorist training camps and fall off our radar, and then make their way back to Canada after receiving training. I do not know how the opposition could advocate against something so simple, something that makes so much sense.
The anti-terrorism act would protect Canadians by criminalizing the advocacy and promotion of terrorism and allowing the federal government to seize radical jihadi propaganda. Canada is a free and accepting society but that does not mean we must tolerate hateful propaganda that advocates violence against Canadians. Canadians recognize that terrorist propaganda is dangerous and contrary to Canadian values, and that the government should do all it can to ensure that it does not poison the minds of our young people.
The anti-terrorism act would also enable CSIS to disrupt threats to our nation. This is an important part of the bill that, again, just makes sense. In fact, when I speak to Canadians across the country in roundtable discussions, they cannot believe that CSIS does not already have the power to disrupt threats.
It is inconceivable that a CSIS agent cannot take a very minor action, such as intercepting mail to prevent a meeting between a radicalized individual and a known terrorist group, to protect Canadians. Again, this is a common sense policy proposal that the opposition willingly and wilfully exaggerates the powers being proposed.
CSIS is not and will never be a secret police force. The opposition members know that. CSIS cannot and will not operate without strict oversight and review. That is why disruption powers would be subject to judicial review and also why the government's new balanced budget that we proposed would double SIRC's resources. The Security Intelligence Review Committee, or SIRC, is a robust Canadian model that has provided effective expert oversight of CSIS for decades. CSIS agents are often in the right place at the right time to disrupt threats early. Given the increased number of foreign fighters and jihadi terrorists threatening our nation, it is very important that we empower the men and women of CSIS to keep Canada safe.
Finally, the anti-terrorism act would further strengthen Canadian citizenship by ensuring that national security agencies are better able to protect and use classified information when denying entry and status to non-citizens who pose a threat to Canada. Again, that is another proposal that Canadians would see to be very important and just makes sense. Canadians know that only the Conservative Party, led by this Prime Minister, can be trusted to keep Canadians safe from the threat of terrorism.
Whether it is on the issue of citizenship; our international security obligations; budget increases to national security agencies, which they continually vote against; or on a crucial bill that would modernize our security tools, the New Democrats and Liberals oppose, confuse and obstruct.
That is why I am proud to be a part of this Conservative government. I am proud of our strong record and the leadership of the Prime Minister on issues of national security. I will be voting in favour of this very important bill, and I encourage all other members to do the same, to help keep Canadians safe from terrorists who wish to do us harm.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)

Question No. 1086--
Mr. Adam Vaughan:
With respect to citizenship ceremonies held outside of government facilities since January 1, 2006: (a) where did the ceremonies take place; (b) did a third party, such as a corporation, not-for-profit, or charity, partner with the government for the ceremonies; (c) in the cases where there were partners involved, what were the names of these third parties; (d) were any gifts provided to the new citizens, their families, or others in attendance; and (e) if gifts were provided, what are the details regarding these gifts?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1087--
Mr. Adam Vaughan:
With respect to the expiration of federal housing operating agreements: (a) how many agreements expired, broken down by year, since 2014; (b) what are the details of the agreements identified in (a), including (i) name or title of the agreement, (ii) how many units were affected, (iii) what was the date of expiry, (iv) in which municipality, province, territory, Aboriginal community, or other jurisdiction were they located; (c) how many agreements are set to expire by December 31, 2015; and (d) what are the details of the agreements identified in (c), including (i) name or title of the agreement, (ii) how many units will be affected, (iii) in which municipality, province, territory, Aboriginal community, or other jurisdiction are they located?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1088--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
With regard to the implementation of the government’s deficit reduction action plan: (a) what are the total number of federal government positions that have been eliminated pursuant to the plan, broken down by year since 2012; (b) what proportion of the job reductions since 2012 have been within the National Capital Region (NCR) compared with those outside the NCR, broken down by year; (c) excluding positions in the NCR, what are the details of all positions eliminated as part of the deficit reduction action plan since 2012, broken down by (i) province, (ii) year; (d) what percentage of the total federal public service workforce was situated in the NCR at (i) year-end in 2012, (ii) year-end in 2014; (e) what percentage of the total federal public service workforce was located in each province, excluding the NCR positions for Ontario and Quebec, at (i) year-end in 2012, (ii) year-end in 2013, (iii) year-end in 2014; (f) what were the total government expenditures on outside consultants to review corporate services, including human resources, finance and administration, communications, and information technology, broken down by year since 2012; (g) what is the current demographic breakdown, including position level, gender, employment equity group, tenure and average years of service in the public service, for all human resources positions that fall within federal public service occupational group (i) Personnel Administration (PE), (ii) Administrative Services (AS), (iii) Clerical and Regulatory (CR); (h) how many PE positions have been eliminated by the government since 2012, broken down by year; (i) how many PE positions does the government plan to eliminate in 2015-2016; (j) how many PE category employees in the government have been promoted since 2012, broken down by year, and what percentage of employees in that category do those promotions represent; (k) how many PE positions have been downgraded as a result of the implementation of PE Generic Work Descriptions; (l) how many Executive (EX) positions within departmental human resources divisions or branches of the federal public service have been created, eliminated or reclassified to a higher level within the EX category since 2012, broken down by year; (m) when was the classification standard for the PE group last updated; (n) what are the details concerning the most recent PE group classification standard; (o) why was the PE group classification standard not updated prior to implementing PE Generic Work descriptions; (p) what percentage of sick days taken by employees in the public service in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 were to attend non-routine or ongoing medical appointments as opposed to illness or injury, excluding those related to pregnancy; and (q) what are the details of any documents or memoranda that have been produced since 2010 by any department or agency regarding any current or previous plans to centralize or amalgamate human resources positions within the federal public service under Shared Services Canada or any other shared services agency including, for each document, (i) the date, (ii) the authoring department or agency, (iii) the title of the document?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1089--
Mr. Arnold Chan:
With regard to the government’s Email Transformation Initiative: (a) how many and which departments have migrated to the one email platform, including the date of the migration; (b) what is the date for the expected migration of the remaining departments, agencies or boards; (c) what was the original date planned for the migration of each government body; (d) how much does the government expect to forgo in savings because of any delays; (e) what are the projected savings arising from the move to one email platform, broken down by (i) department, (ii) total government savings; (f) for departments that have already migrated to the one email platform, (i) what are the recorded Treasury Board transfers for the department to Shared Services Canada, (ii) what are the recorded Treasury Board savings for each department, (iii) what is the amount of reduction to the departments’ estimates for 2015-2016; (g) what penalties were charged to Bell Canada and CGI Information Systems for not being able to meet their targets; (h) what is the cost of the contract to both Bell Canada and CGI Information Systems, including (i) how much has currently been paid, (ii) how much is expected to be paid at the completion of the project, (iii) the maximum amount that is allowed under the contract, (iv) the original maximum amount allowed at the signing of the contract; (i) how much has been budgeted for the migration to one email platform; (j) how much was budgeted at the start of the program; (k) what will be the ongoing operational cost to operate the one email platform; (l) what is the static operational cost of operating all email platforms before the migration; (m) for departments that have migrated to the one email platform, what are the issues logged by the IT help desk, including (i) the type of issue, (ii) the length of time on the IT help line, (iii) the cost of any outside contractors hired to address excess volumes; and (n) what are all the contracts associated with the migration and the implantation to the one email platform, including (i) the name of the company, (ii) the amount of the contract, (iii) the amount that has already been paid under the contract, (iv) if the contract is tendered, (v) the length of the contract?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1090--
Mr. Arnold Chan:
With regard to PPP Canada: since its creation, (a) what are the date and the details of the agenda of each Board of Directors' meeting; (b) for each meeting, which members of the board attended; (c) which board members declared conflicts of interest during any meeting, specifying the issue on the agenda with respect to which the conflict was declared; (d) what projects have been announced by PPP Canada; (e) which of the projects in (d) had board approval; (f) how much funding was announced for each project; (g) when was the project announced; (h) how much has been paid for the project and to whom; (i) for each project in (d), was a cost-benefit analysis and an analysis of the advantage of using P3 done for the project and, if so, what were the projected savings; (j) where are PPP Canada's unspent funds currently held, including (i) amounts, (ii) terms, (iii) the details of the contracts of all investments; (k) what travel has the board of directors done, including the location and the cost, broken down by (i) travel, (ii) hotel, (iii) per diem, (iv) any other expenses; (l) what were the costs for any announcements made by PPP Canada, including (i) cost of staff travel, (ii) cost of room rentals, (iii) cost of staging equipment or contract, (iv) cost for any writing services paid for by PPP Canada (such as for speeches, press releases, media advisories, backgrounders, and websites), (v) cost of press release distribution, (vi) date of the event, (vii) cost of any food, (viii) any additional costs; and (m) how much has PPP Canada spent on hospitality, including, for each event (i) amount spent, (ii) nature of the event, (iii) date, (iv) authorizing authority, (v) location, (vi) vendor?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1091--
Mr. Arnold Chan:
With regard to the government’s use and receipt of credit cards since 2005-2006: (a) how much has the government paid in credit-card merchant fees, broken down by (i) year, (ii) company, (iii) amounts withheld, forgone, or otherwise held by either credit card companies or service providers; (b) how many credit cards does the government currently have in use for staff, and which companies provide them; (c) for cards provided by the government to staff, what is the annual fee paid by the government per card; (d) does the government provide any cards to staff that include redeemable rewards and, if so, what are these rewards and who collects them; and (e) how much has the government paid in late or overdue balances, broken down by year?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1092--
Mr. Arnold Chan:
With regard to the government’s non-tax revenue for each year since 2005-2006: (a) how much has each department, agency, board, or other body collected for each year, including (i) the dollar amount and the number of people and businesses that paid the amount, (ii) the programs, fines, services, or product the amount was received for; (b) how much was the public charged for programs, services, products and documents, broken down by year since 2005-2006, including (i) the cost of each product, (ii) the cost of each product where express service or premium service was offered; and (c) how much does it cost the government to provide each program, service, product or document, including (i) the total amount annually for the service as well as the cost per transaction, (ii) the number of transactions per year?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1094--
Ms. Niki Ashton:
With respect to the processing of Status Cards and of Secure Certificates of Indian Status by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, broken down by year from 2004 to 2014, and further broken down by (i) regular application, (ii) application under Bill C-3, Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act, (iii) number of Qalipu band members applying: (a) what is the number of applications; (b) how many are being processed; (c) how many employees are assigned to the processing of applications; (d) what is the amount budgeted for the processing of applications; (e) what is the average wait time for the processing of applications; (f) how many years behind is the processing of applications; and (g) what are the shortest and longest turnaround times on record for the processing of one application?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1095--
Mme Niki Ashton:
With regard to the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation: (a) how much funding has been allocated for fire safety between 2011 and 2015, broken down by year; (b) what are the details of the budgeting and spending of $39 999 of funding for fire safety in 2014-2015; (c) how much funding has been allocated for training volunteer or professional firefighters from 2011 to 2015, broken down by year; (d) how much funding has been allocated for building inspections and regulations from 2011 to 2015, broken down by year; and (e) how much funding has been allocated for equipment maintenance and upkeep from 2011 to 2015, broken down by year?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1097--
Mr. Paul Dewar:
With regard to Canadian diplomatic operations in Haiti over the past five years: (a) what were the total budgeted government expenditures, broken down by (i) overall total, (ii) year; (b) what were the total actual government expenditures, broken down by (i) overall total, (ii) year; (c) what were the budgeted government expenditures on security, broken down by (i) overall total, (ii) year; (d) what were the actual government expenditures on security, broken down by (i) overall total, (ii) year; (e) how many Canadian diplomatic personnel were employed in Haiti, broken down by year; and (f) for all personnel identified in (e), what were the titles and terms of their positions?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1098--
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims:
With regard to Employment and Social Development Canada and to the unit responsible for reviewing backlogged social security appeals: (a) where is the unit located within the Department’s structure; (b) to whom is the unit reporting; (c) how many people are in the unit; (d) how many of the people working in the unit have a medical degree; (e) how many of the people working in the unit are lawyers; (f) how many of the people working in the unit are Canada Pension Plan Disability medical adjudicators; (g) what is the budget of the unit; (h) what are the terms of reference for the unit; (i) what is the unit’s expected length of existence; (j) how many appeal case files have been reviewed to date; (k) how many settlements have been offered; (l) how many settlements have been accepted; (m) are settlements retroactive; (n) what are the criteria for deciding to review a file or to allow it to pass on to the Social Security Tribunal; (o) when was the unit created; and (p) when did the unit begin operations?
Response
(Return tabled)

Question No. 1100--
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat:
With regard to the redevelopment of the industrial park in the Regional County Municipality of Pontiac, specifically the purchase of the former Smurfit-Stone mill in Portage-du-Fort, in the Outaouais region, by Sustainable Site Planning and Management Pontiac, a subsidiary of Green Investment Group Incorporated: (a) were Industry Canada or Canada Economic Development financially involved in this project; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what proportion of the contributions, in dollar and percentage terms, were (i) refundable, (ii) non-refundable; (c) were the contributions referred to in (b) loans or grants; and (d) what were the names and titles of the official and the entrepreneur who signed this agreement?
Response
(Return tabled)
8555-412-1086 Citizenship ceremonies8555-412-1087 Federal housing operating ...8555-412-1088 Deficit reduction action plan8555-412-1089 Email Transformation Initiative8555-412-1090 PPP Canada8555-412-1091 Government use of credit cards8555-412-1092 Non-tax revenue8555-412-1094 Status Card and Secure Cer ...8555-412-1095 Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation8555-412-1097 Operations in Haiti8555-412-1098 Backlogged social security ... ...Show all topics
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the most recent statistics show that the percentage of candidates who obtained their citizenship dropped from 79% to 26% between 2000 and 2008. Even worse, the Conservatives' latest citizenship reforms will make obtaining citizenship even more difficult. A former director general at Citizenship and Immigration Canada sounded the alarm this week and identified the repercussions for immigrants and Canadian society.
Welcoming new citizens from all over the world has always been one of our fundamental values. Why are the Conservatives making it more difficult to obtain Canadian citizenship?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-03-24 14:47 [p.12248]
Mr. Speaker, we are very proud that we acted last year to protect the value of Canadian citizenship, without the support of the NDP, of course.
That has not prevented Canada from having a naturalization rate of 85%, the highest in the world. Last year, the number of new Canadian citizens even exceeded the number of new immigrants. We are proud to be protecting the value of our citizenship, and we are also proud of our new citizens, who meet the criteria for this citizenship and who want to reflect Canadian values.
View Andrew Cash Profile
NDP (ON)
View Andrew Cash Profile
2015-03-24 14:48 [p.12248]
Mr. Speaker, as usual, the minister never lets facts get in his way.
The fact is that Conservatives have repeatedly and systematically made it more difficult for immigrants to become citizens. Instead of nurturing immigrant communities, Conservatives cut services. Instead of better recognizing foreign credentials, they turn a blind eye. Instead of fostering a sense of pride in Canadian citizenship, they are charging hard-pressed newcomers more and more money to apply.
Why are Conservatives making it so difficult for immigrant families to join the Canadian family?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-03-24 14:49 [p.12248]
Mr. Speaker, there goes Franz Kafka again. Not a single fact was in that question.
We are proud to have protected the value of Canadian citizenship with legislation last year. We are proud to be the government that has maintained the highest levels of immigration in Canadian history. We are equally proud of those many newcomers to this country who go to the trouble of gaining knowledge about it and have improved their language skills, and, yes, the number of new citizens last year, in 2014, was 261,000, which was 2,000 more than we had in new immigrants.
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives surprised many when they sent out a fundraising email saying that they oppose the wearing of a hijab at a citizenship ceremony.
It is bad enough that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is waging a war against Muslim women who cover their faces, but it is beyond belief that he is mixing up the terms hijab, niqab and burka for the sole purpose of confusing people and instilling fear.
He could have simply said that he had used the wrong term, but no, he chose to say that the hijab is not allowed, even though the hijab is allowed at citizenship ceremonies. He would rather create more division and fear for political gain.
The Conservatives are doing the same with Bill C-51. They are taking advantage of current circumstances to mislead the public by claiming that Bill C-51 does not give law enforcement agencies more powers.
Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve leaders who tell the truth and do not exploit divisions for political gain.
View Tyrone Benskin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Tyrone Benskin Profile
2015-02-19 11:28 [p.11391]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.
The first petition has been signed by many Canadians who are calling for citizenship legislation that is fair to everyone. This petition expresses people's concerns regarding Bill C-24.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Liberal leader opposed the government’s principled position on the oath of citizenship being delivered without a niqab. It is a matter of deep principle.
Most Canadians would find it offensive for people to hide their identity at the very moment they want to join the Canadian family. Our government understands that. It is disappointing that the Liberal leader does not.
I am pleased that the government plans to appeal this decision.
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Chrystia Freeland Profile
2015-02-18 14:59 [p.11355]
Mr. Speaker, in an email to the Conservatives about his plans to strip Muslim women of their right to wear the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, the immigration minister got the basic facts wrong. In a cynical political ploy, the government, he said, will appeal a court decision “allowing people to wear the hijab while taking the oath”. Surely the minister, of all people, ought to know the difference between a niqab and a hijab.
As the Conservatives seek to restrict the rights of Muslim women, can they not at least pay them the courtesy of getting the facts right?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-02-18 14:59 [p.11355]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not have had the honour of living in a majority Muslim country where the hijab has been used to cover the face of women just as the niqab has been used and just as the burka has been used under the terrible influence of the Taliban in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Those practices have no place in our citizenship ceremonies, where we insist on confirming the identity and confirming the commitment of new citizens to our laws, to our sovereign, to our values, and to our traditions.
View Brad Butt Profile
CPC (ON)
View Brad Butt Profile
2015-02-18 15:03 [p.11356]
Mr. Speaker, I attend many citizenship ceremonies in Mississauga. Becoming a Canadian citizen is a proud time when newcomers commit themselves to Canada and embrace all of the rights and privileges that come with being Canadian.
A very important step in joining the Canadian family is reciting the oath of citizenship. Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration please explain to this House why the government intends to file a notice of appeal in this matter?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2015-02-18 15:04 [p.11356]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Mississauga—Streetsville for his hard work for his constituents and for Canadian citizenship, because Mississauga is one of the places in this country where we swore in a record number of citizens in 2014, and we did it through a public declaration.
The oath of citizenship is a statement that one is joining the Canadian family and that he or she is committed to Canadian values and traditions. That is why most Canadians find it offensive that someone would conceal their identity at the very moment when they are joining and expressing their commitment to Canadian laws, values, and traditions.
It is not a matter of practical policy. This is a matter of principle. The oath of citizenship is something we do publicly. Someone keeping his or her face hidden from view at the moment he or she joins our country—
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-02-16 15:11 [p.11224]
Mr. Speaker, I also present a petition from residents throughout the Vancouver and Surrey area dealing with lost Canadians. These petitioners call on the government to recognize the citizenship of Canadian war dead who died before 1947 and ask that they be recognized as Canadian citizens who died in the service of their country.
View Daryl Kramp Profile
CPC (ON)
View Daryl Kramp Profile
2015-01-28 17:12 [p.10752]
Mr. Speaker, I am not only pleased but proud and privileged to be with a government that has an unwavering commitment to protecting Canadians from radical jihadi terrorists. I am proud of our government's decision to stand with our allies in an international mission to combat the threat ISIL poses to the Middle East, and by extension, to the world. I am proud that when our government says it is committed to giving our security agencies the tools they need to keep Canadians safe, we follow through with decisive action.
In that spirit, I am pleased to rise today in support of the protection of Canada from terrorists bill. As all hon. members know, this bill contains two main measures.
First of all, it will make technical amendments to Canada's Citizenship Act to allow revocation of citizenship provisions to come into force earlier than anticipated. These provisions, which are part of an act that has already received royal assent, include expanded grounds for revocation. This includes authorizing the revocation of the citizenship of individuals engaged in armed conflict with Canada as well as those who have been convicted of terrorism, high treason, or spying.
The bill also provides for a streamlined decision-making process. It will authorize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Federal Court to make decisions on revoking citizenship from traitors or terrorists.
The second part of this legislation, and what I will focus my remarks on today, are the changes being proposed to strengthen the CSIS Act.
For the last 30 years, CSIS has played a vital, and I would say, valuable role in ensuring a safe and secure Canada. The threats we face as a country today have changed significantly since then. I think all we have to do is look at world events to realize that we do not live in the world of yesterday.
The CSIS Act and the legislation that governs CSIS activities has not changed. With the bill before us, we are taking a critical step toward ensuring that CSIS is well positioned.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2014-12-01 15:25 [p.9996]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of Vancouver, asking the government to redress the very strange injustice that has been visited on those Canadians who fought and died for this country, but who died before 1947 and are not being recognized as Canadian citizens.
Let us recognize these lost Canadians.
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be talking about Citizenship Week today. I would like to congratulate the new Canadians in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert once again. In September, 74 people in Saint-Hubert and Saint-Bruno were granted Canadian citizenship. Canada has built a reputation as a country of broad cultural diversity, and it has maintained that reputation on the international stage.
Despite our obvious wealth, there are still too many people waiting for Canadian citizenship. Processing delays for sponsorship and family reunification applications are still too often preventing people like you and me from starting a life in Canada. The government needs to know that by working together we can enhance Canada's reputation as a country that welcomes newcomers. Let us build our history together.
View Bernard Trottier Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, next week Canadians are invited to join together to celebrate Citizenship Week. This is an opportunity to reflect on the many freedoms, rights, and responsibilities that we enjoy as citizens of this great country. It is also an ideal time for all citizens to reaffirm their commitment to Canada, our values and traditions.
Since 2006, more than 1.5 million new citizens have made a permanent connection to Canada. We are proud of this record, and we continue to ensure that we welcome even more new citizens to the Canadian family. With our government's recent changes to the Citizenship Act, connections to Canada are being strengthened and newcomers are seeing their applications being processed more quickly.
Next week, thousands of newcomers will become Canadians at poignant ceremonies from coast to coast to coast. I invite all Canadians to take part in Citizenship Week activities across Canada to celebrate all that it means to be Canadian and to show the world that we are Canada proud.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2014-10-07 14:02 [p.8345]
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to remind all Canadians that next week is Citizenship Week, a time when we reflect and celebrate the rights and responsibilities that Canadians share.
Our citizenship defines what it means to be a Canadian. It is a shared commitment to our country's core beliefs in freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, values that we all hold dear.
Canada has welcomed generations of newcomers to our shores to help us build a free, law-abiding and prosperous society. For 400 years, settlers and immigrants have contributed to the diversity and richness of our country, which is built on a proud history and a strong identity.
During Citizenship Week, I encourage all Canadians to reaffirm their citizenship and reflect on what it means to be a citizen of Canada, the greatest country in the world.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2014-06-19 17:12 [p.7188]
I have the honour to inform the House that messages have been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills: Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts; Bill C-489, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (restrictions on offenders).
I also have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-218, An Act respecting National Fiddling Day.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2014-06-19 18:56 [p.7200]
Before we proceed with questions and comments, I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
The Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor
Rideau Hall
Ottawa
June 19, 2014
Mr. Speaker,
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 19th day of June, 2014, at 6:07 p.m.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen Wallace
The schedule indicates the bill assented to on June 19, 2014, was Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
View Mylène Freeman Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak to Bill C-2. It is an example of a trend in the government. I will explain myself throughout my speech.
I am concerned about the way in which we go about making laws in this country. This legislation is an example of the Conservative government's leadership when it comes to drafting legislation and bringing it to the House. How the government acts in public really flies in the face of the Canada that I grew up in and the Canada I am proud to be a part of. Now when I stand in the House I feel very sad for our legislative process.
To begin, I want to talk a bit about what the bill is really about. It is not really about respecting communities, again a trend in some of the bills that we see, for example, safe communities and so on. This legislation is not at all about communities. It is about marginalizing those who are already marginalized. It is about putting further violence in the lives of those who already live with so much violence. It is about putting in danger those who are already in danger.
Essentially, this entire legislation is about InSite. For those who may not be familiar with InSite, it is a place in the Vancouver area where those who are addicted to drugs can go for safe injection. We all understand what addiction is, at least those of us on this side of the House, and that there are ways to make it safer for individuals to break a habit so they can escape the cycle of drug abuse. If they cannot break the cycle, and that can be the case for some, at least they would not be put in a more vulnerable position.
Following an increase in the number of overdose deaths in Vancouver between 1987 and 1993, Vancouver Coastal Health and community partners set up InSite. Since then there has been a huge decrease in diseases such as Hep A, B, C, and HIV/AIDS.
InSite was originally exempt under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In 2008, the exemption under Section 56 in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act expired. That has caused us to be in the situation we are in now. The minister of health at that time denied its renewal and that resulted in subsequent court cases. It was brought up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the minister's decision to close InSite, to not renew the exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, was a violation of the charter rights of those who were part of the program. The minister's decision was “...arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which include public health and safety”.
That is an overview of why we are here. We are here now because the Conservatives are not in agreement ideologically with the Supreme Court's ruling. This legislation would impose extremely stringent conditions on places like InSite and would really dissuade any other communities that have the need for such programs from participating in them.
In a sense this legislation is only about InSite. In a sense the bill exemplifies a trend in the Conservative government.
The Conservatives have such profound disrespect for any Supreme Court ruling that comes forward and that goes against their ideology. They have a complete disrespect for the judicial branch in this country and the fact that when a decision is made by the Supreme Court, if they do not like it, then too bad. They are not the defenders of rights and freedoms in this country, the courts are. That is why we have a separate judicial process. Unfortunately, the Conservatives keep finding ways of going around any of those decisions that are made by bringing forward legislation that flies in the face of it, sort of goes around it so that it fits their ideology.
For instance, the court in this case based its decision on section 7 of the charter, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of a person and the right not be deprived thereof, except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
This is extremely common. We are seeing the Conservatives disagree with fundamentally, ideologically, in Supreme Court rulings things that have to do with people's security, people's health, people's right to life. That is what is so scary about this trend. The Supreme Court did rule that InSite and other supervised injection sites must be granted a section 56 exemption when they decrease the risk of death and disease and there is little or no evidence that they have a negative impact on the community. InSite does not have a negative impact on the community, quite the opposite, it has a very positive impact on the community. The Conservatives now have to go through this bill to try to create stringent conditions for InSite.
This is blatant disrespect and disregard for the InSite ruling. it completely flies in the face of it. This is in the context of a government that has challenged the Supreme Court over and over again through these backward ways of bringing in legislation to the House that flies in the face of a ruling.
For instance, we are thinking of a very close case in my opinion, the same type of situation. Bill C-36 was recently put down. It really flies in the face of the Bedford decision, which was very clear that given the dangerous conditions of sex work, those who are engaged in it need to be able to take the steps to protect themselves. Now we have a bill that is so disempowering. It is not an exaggeration to say that lives would be put at risk due to this legislation.
We also have Bill C-24, which is the immigration bill that creates dual citizenship. Dual citizens are treated as second-class citizens who potentially would be deported and put in danger in countries they may never have even known.
This is also in the context of several crime bills that have been returned due to their unconstitutionality. We see over and over that the Conservatives are marginalizing at-risk Canadians and further marginalizing already marginalized groups.
The many justice bills of the Conservatives, as I mentioned, follow the same model. They ostracize, isolate, and divide people. Instead of trying to address the root issue, the Conservatives tackle symptoms without even looking for the source of the problem. They throw people in jail without helping them reintegrate into society, and that does not solve the problem.
Let us not forget the unelected and unaccountable Senate blocking my colleague's bill on gender identity, creating rights for trans Canadians who are so marginalized and are put in situations of violence. I do not think I have time to get into the difference between an unelected, unaccountable Senate going against the elected thoughts of the House, and the judicial process, which is to protect the rights of Canadians despite the democratic processes that happen in this House.
The Senate works against that process, but over and over, the government is choosing ideology over facts. In these cases, every time the government is going to outrageous lengths, really, to subvert the courts, and these bills. I am not exaggerating, I know am out of time but I really want to get this out. These bills are putting people in danger--
View Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we still do not have any figures on the number of government-sponsored refugees.
In addition to the confusion over the issue of Syrian refugees and a reform that denies pregnant women and children the health care that they desperately need, the minister wants to pass his citizenship bill, which attacks the fundamental rights of Canadians. A growing number of experts say that the bill could end up in court because it does not comply with the Constitution.
Why does the minister want to rush through a bill that will inevitably end up in court instead of truly addressing the problems with our immigration and citizenship system?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2014-06-16 14:46 [p.6882]
Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our bill on Canadian citizenship, which will pass at third reading after question period today.
We are proud to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship and to talk about terrorism, treason and espionage, which should not be accepted as foundations of our citizenship. Indeed, we will revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who commit serious crimes.
We would like the NDP to think about that on a day when terrorists are causing panic in Iraq.
View Linda Duncan Profile
NDP (AB)
View Linda Duncan Profile
2014-06-13 12:11 [p.6836]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table a petition from residents of Edmonton, who are concerned that Bill C-24 unfairly treats current Canadian permanent residents. I have met with a number of these signators, who are expressing concern with the longer wait times. They have diligently learned to speak English well, in some cases French, have even played hockey, and they think that this bill would treat them unfairly. They would like to have their time served as permanent residents and students put toward becoming citizens.
View Scott Reid Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief.
I have petitions on a number of different subjects, so I will just state what they are by topic. Some of these petitions were presented to me by my constituents and others by constituents of the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, who cannot introduce them, as he is a minister. Therefore, he has asked me to introduce those on his behalf.
The first petition is calling for fair representation in the House of Commons. The petitioners would favour a bill on a proportional system of representation being passed.
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
2014-06-12 11:01 [p.6713]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is with respect to Bill C-24, the amendment to the Citizenship Act. These petitioners are concerned that it treats Canadian permanent residents who came to Canada as temporary workers and international students who have spent a considerable amount of time here and wish to have that time counted toward their citizenship unfairly. They are of great economic benefit, and the petitioners want the government to amend the Citizenship Act to recognize the contribution that these citizens make.
View Laurie Hawn Profile
CPC (AB)
View Laurie Hawn Profile
2014-06-12 11:05 [p.6714]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition, which is similar to the petition from the member for London—Fanshawe, is from people who want us to consider recognizing the cultural ties, et cetera, of foreign workers and international students with respect to recognizing more of their time here being put toward citizenship.
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2014-06-12 18:32 [p.6774]
moved that Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to open debate on third reading on what members across the room and Canadians across the country have concluded is a long overdue updating of a great Canadian institution: citizenship. It is a good bill with a huge number of positive provisions that are going to give better service to permanent residents on their way to citizenship, to citizens themselves, and literally lift up to an even higher level the sense of pride that we all take in our citizenship as Canadians.
I would like to begin by thanking many of my colleagues who have laboured long and hard on this bill. That work began long before I occupied this portfolio. I would like to salute my colleague, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, who really brought this bill, in most respects, to its current stage, along with the parliamentary secretary, who has done fantastic work in committee and in the House, as well as many members of Parliament. The member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country did very important work on the issue of lost Canadians and on citizenship generally. The member for Calgary Northeast tapped in to a particular facet of that pride that Canadians take in their citizenship in introducing measures in this bill that would make sure that gross crimes of disloyalty, when committed by dual nationals, result in the revocation of citizenship.
In the time available to me, I would like to cover four items. I would first like to respond to the critics, those who have misunderstood the bill or disagreed with the bill in one way or another. We are listening. Second, I would like to talk about where this bill takes our citizenship in the 21st century, about what is at the core of the value of Canadian citizenship that is reinforced by this act. Then I would like to remind the House of the main aspects of the bill before concluding with some forward-looking comments about the impact that this renewed pride in citizenship can have on all of us across the country, but above all on young Canadians.
First, I will discuss the questions that have arisen in the media, in the House, and elsewhere about the bill. There have been a few lawyers and a few voices in the House questioning the need to require those applying for citizenship to declare their intent to reside. Subparagraph 3(1)(c)(i) of the bill asks that the applicant be required to intend, if granted, to continue to reside in Canada. Some have misunderstood this provision to mean that anyone applying for citizenship or seeking to meet the requirements of citizenship, which would be four years of residency out of six, must declare an intention to reside in Canada for the rest of their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth and those who have perpetrated this misunderstanding have simply not read the further paragraph, which is (2)(1.1), on page 12 of the bill as I have it printed. It states:
For the purposes of paragraphs (1)(c.1) and 11(1)(d.1), the person’s intention must be continuous from the date of his or her application until they have taken the oath of citizenship.
The intention to reside that we are requiring, which we wish had been required in the flawed 1977 version of this bill, relates to the period of physical presence in Canada, residency in Canada, required to become a citizen. That has always been a requirement to become a citizen for 100 years. It was in June 1914 when a five-year residency requirement was formally put in place. That was watered down by the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau in 1977. We think it merits an increase to four out of six years, but with a declaration of intent to fulfill this requirement.
Why is it important that we secure that declaration of intent? It is because, not just in Canada but around the world, many consultants and lawyers have sought to misrepresent this requirement and to argue that residency in Canada did not require a physical presence here, did not require the intent to actually be here. Hence, we have this large backlog of abuse that the RCMP is investigating, which may lead to revocation of citizenship. We need to send a clear message.
Henceforth, with the passage of this bill, residency will mean a physical presence in this country for four years out of six. We will require applicants to declare it over the period from the submission of their application to the day when they take the oath of citizenship.
Let me remind this House, nothing in those provisions constrains the mobility rights of either a permanent resident or a citizen. Someone can have the intent to reside, but then their plans change and they move elsewhere, not fulfilling the residency requirements for citizenship. They do not become a citizen, perhaps until later in their life. After they obtain citizenship, of course Canadians are free to do whatever they want as citizens.
Second, on revocation, it is extraordinary to us on this side, and I think it is extraordinary to Canadians, that so many opposition members would have expended so much breath opposing the revocation of a citizen, only of dual nationals, for crimes like terrorism, treason, taking up arms against the Canadian Forces, or espionage when we already revoke citizenship for much lesser crimes, such as the crime of having concealed a criminal record or having obtained citizenship fraudulently.
We take our responsibilities with regard to revocation extremely seriously. Every one of these cases of revocation involves judicial oversight, recourse to a court. There is judicial review available explicitly in the bill to every aspect of this bill. If citizenship is to be revoked based on a conviction for terrorism, a file would be prepared for the minister. The minister would review it. The person would be given notice and invited to make written submissions. There is provision for a hearing.
This review does not begin until a court has convicted the person of this crime. I do not need to remind members in this place of how few convictions, fortunately, happily, there are in Canada or of Canadians for these very serious crimes. These additional revocation provisions in this act are well understood by Canadians and well accepted.
With regard to membership in an armed group fighting the Canadian Forces, the minister would not be able to take any action without going to the Federal Court at the very outset, bringing facts and evidence that the Canadian citizen in question had been engaged in armed conflict, and satisfying the court that that was the case. That is the only way to even start this process. If the rules of evidence, or the case, is not strong enough, then it will not make it through the Federal Court and revocation will not take place.
These measures are being undertaken within the framework of our very robust judicial institutions, the rule of law in this country. Everyone should celebrate the fact that they will constitute a very profound deterrent, not just to younger generations, but to all Canadians, and a reminder that allegiance and loyalty to this country require that these grave crimes be avoided at all costs. When they are committed, they will be punished.
These were the two grave weaknesses of the 1977 act: the failure to obtain a declaration of intent to reside from applicants, and the neglect of issues of loyalty and allegiance.
Liberals did not make this mistake in their 1947 Citizenship Act that actually provided for these measures. Conservatives did not make these mistakes in our 1914 Naturalization Act, 100 years ago, which set us on the course toward the strong citizenship we have today.
Certainly our NATO allies, our closest partners in war and peacetime, the other leading democracies of this planet, have not at any time made this mistake. I remind this House there is only one NATO country, according to our analysis, that does not have revocation provisions equal to or more severe than the ones we are proposing in this bill.
Second, where is citizenship today in Canada? What would this bill give us, what would it strengthen for us that perhaps was not there before?
Here the key provision relates to residency, relates to the attachment, the connection, the experience of Canada that we are promoting with this bill, which heretofore newcomers to Canada have actually told us in large numbers was not strong enough. The knowledge test and the language test are part of that, but there is no substitute. All of us have heard from immigrants, newcomers, those looking for jobs, and those who started careers here, and those looking back on what their forebears went through that there is no substitute for direct experience of this country and that four years is a legitimate minimum for what that experience should be.
What happens to permanent residents and future Canadian citizens over those four years? They discover this country. They discover 10 million square kilometres. They discover its diversity. They discover how the rule of law works here. They discover our institutions. They discover why our economy is prosperous, why our agricultural sector is the third-largest in the world, why we have manufacturing and technology burgeoning in all parts of this country, and they find their path into that workforce, which need not just involve natural resources, manufacturing, or agriculture; it could be cultural industries, one of our fastest-growing sectors in this country.
There are old adages about the Trudeau-era standards of citizenship: that citizenship was of convenience, as a former member of this House called it, and that Canada was just a hotel where people checked in and checked out, passport in hand. Richard Gwyn spoke about The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian. People could come and live here and benefit from citizenship, but they were not asked to do much more. We have been reminded at every stage of our eight years in government that new Canadians, new citizens, and new immigrants want more. They want to understand the history of this country. They want to understand where the success comes from. They want to belong in that deeper sense, and the value of Canadian citizenship as reinforced by this act would help them to do exactly that.
Third, what are the improvements that we would deliver in this bill?
The first is about service. Because of high immigration of almost 260,000 per year over our eight years in government, the highest sustained levels of immigration in Canadian history, and because of our high rate of naturalization, because people who become immigrants want to become citizens and want to make the extra sacrifice of improving their language skills and mastering the “Discover Canada” guide and taking the test and literally discovering Canada by living here, we do have a backlog. The backlog is a bit larger because of the abuse and the residency fraud that took place that slowed down applications. We had to come to terms with which were legitimate applications and which unfortunately were not. With the measures in this bill and measures undertaken in previous budgets, we have the resources and we would have the decision-making framework to move through that backlog quickly, to take a processing time of two to three years for new applications today down to below two years in the course of next year, 2015, and to under one year by the beginning of 2016.
Second, we are reinforcing the value of citizenship, as I mentioned that the residency requirement would get longer.
Third, we are giving ourselves new tools to ensure that fraud is a thing of the past, if we can possibly make it that in our citizenship programs. We would be much less vulnerable to residency fraud. We would regulate citizenship consultants to ensure they could not lead applicants astray, as we have done with immigration consultants and increasingly with immigration lawyers. We would also raise the potential penalties from $1,000 to $100,000, and from one year to five years imprisonment, for the forms of fraud and misrepresentation that unfortunately have been all too common in our citizenship program.
Finally, we would deliver on our commitment across all of our programs to honour those who serve, who wear the uniform of the RCMP and military abroad, and those who work in embassies, as I had the privilege of doing. They would be able to pass on this citizenship beyond the first generation, even if their children were born outside of Canada. New Canadians, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Forces, would have a slightly faster pathway to citizenship of three years instead of four.
What does our citizenship look like in the 21st century?
There would be less fraud. There would be more penalties. It would be a much more prized citizenship. Because of all these things, we would be properly able to say that Canadians were in a position to promote our citizenship and use it as never before. It would be something that those outside of Canada would seek to acquire with more determination than ever. It would be something that those of us in Canada who have it would seek to use as never before in the world, to do good in our country and in places not so fortunate.
It is our citizenship that lets us undertake the kinds of initiatives our Prime Minister has been undertaking for maternal, child, and newborn health. It is our citizenship that allows us to take action on child, early, and forced marriage. It is our citizenship that lets us be the second most prominent country in the world for refugee resettlement, accepting roughly one is ten refugees resettled every year in co-operation with UNHCR, including those now coming to us in ever greater numbers from Syria.
Our citizenship also lets us work toward building the economy of the 21st century. It was interesting that the OECD report released this week on Canada gave a prominent place to immigration reforms, to the naturalization rate in Canada and the citizenship program, which we consider part and parcel of our immigration programs. Without these kinds of programs, modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century, it would not be possible to match more specialized skills than ever to the needs of a changing economy. It is because of our prosperity that the Canadian economy is changing faster than almost any other.
It was interesting to read that the OECD saw immigration policy as an economic driver and spoke of Canada in relatively glowing terms because of the extent of our immigration reforms over the past year and as a pioneer and innovator in this field.
We have been citizens of our country from day one, from the day we arrived here, and from the day we met the requirements. It is vital for new generations of citizens to see this great institution of citizenship protected and to see where it comes from. It is important to understand what it was in the time of Nouvelle France, or at the time the War of 1812, or for those who stormed Juno Beach on D-Day, or what it was in 1914 on the eve of the Great War.
We will have many occasions to celebrate our citizenship in the next few years in the run up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation. I know all of us on our side look forward to celebrating with all Canadians.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech. Of course, the proposed bill contains some acceptable provisions. However, many others are simply not acceptable.
Let me come back to one of the minister's last comments: that we have been citizens of this country from day one, from the day we arrived here, and from the day we met the requirements. Not too long ago, the minister said in The Star that “citizenship is not an inalienable birthright”.
I find it very surprising that the minister believes that the right to citizenship can be taken away from a person born here in Canada and that he is putting this idea forward.
In addition, this bill also allows the minister to take away the right to citizenship as he pleases. There are very few criteria. Ministerial discretion comes into play both when citizenship is revoked and when it is granted.
Under what specific circumstances could the minister grant Canadian citizenship unilaterally and in secret? Will he disclose the list of people to whom he has granted citizenship? How will he disclose that information? Why does the minister think it is acceptable for a minister to grant citizenship in secret?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2014-06-12 18:53 [p.6777]
Mr. Speaker, the special conditions for granting citizenship are very clear. The person must have a very hard time acquiring citizenship through the normal process, and there must be a national interest at stake. The conditions are clear and they are in the bill.
Citizenship has never been inalienable. Canadian citizenship was legislated in the House. Canadians born in Canada who have only one citizenship, like myself, have the right to renounce their Canadian citizenship if that is what they wish. It is therefore not inalienable.
Individuals born in Canada who have only one citizenship, not dual citizenship, cannot have their citizenship revoked under the criteria in our bill. However, a person who received citizenship illegitimately by hiding crimes can have it revoked, even before this bill is passed.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 18:55 [p.6777]
Mr. Speaker, when the minister first talked about making changes to the Citizenship Act, he made a point of emphasizing that it was going to be a legislative format and that there were going to be some other changes. One of those changes was a fairly significant jump in the cost of acquiring citizenship, not only in the application fee itself but also in the fees for the requirement of language testing results, IELTS. There would be substantially increased fees for individuals who want to acquire citizenship.
Could the minister explain why those changes were implemented, along with the idea of the knowledge tests? Does he have an opinion on whether a citizen should be expected to know more than someone has been born in Canada and has gone through all of his or her education from nursery school to high school? Should a new citizen have a better understanding of Canada than an individual such as that? I am interested in the minister's thoughts on those three issues.
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2014-06-12 18:56 [p.6777]
Mr. Speaker, I hope the member opposite is not implying that our school systems in the various provinces and territories are teaching less over the course of primary and secondary education than the “Discover Canada” guide teaches newcomers to Canada.
Those who have the benefit of going through that school system, whether they are immigrants or not, have great knowledge of Canada. It is equivalent to or greater than what the “Discover Canada” guide represents. The “Discover Canada” guide is a key for those who are new to the country to essential knowledge about Canada that will help them be citizens. It is as simple as that. The success of new Canadians in mastering that material is there for all to see. It is popular, and they are doing well.
On the question of cost, it would go to $300. We have a responsibility to recover the full cost. We have not been doing that up until now. It would be $100 for minors. Here is the good news. It is less than half of the U.S. cost. It is less than a fifth of the cost in the U.K., and that cost, under certain conditions, has to be paid annually. Even the cost in New Zealand is 50% more than it is in Canada. In that sense, Canadian citizenship would continue to be an extraordinary bargain.
View Costas Menegakis Profile
CPC (ON)
View Costas Menegakis Profile
2014-06-12 18:58 [p.6777]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. minister for bringing this bill before the House. These will be the first comprehensive changes to the Citizenship Act in almost 40 years, and they are much needed.
One thing in the legislation that is of particular importance with the changing dynamic throughout Canada, given the record numbers of immigration at 1.4 million new Canadian citizens since we took government in 2006, is that some have decided to perpetrate fraud on those who seek Canadian citizenship. They are doing so under the guise of being citizenship consultants.
Could the minister elaborate on how, in the legislation, we would go after those who would prey on new Canadians seeking their citizenship?
View Chris Alexander Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chris Alexander Profile
2014-06-12 18:59 [p.6778]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his hard work on this bill.
We will force them to be regulated, as we have done very successfully with immigration consultants. We will also prosecute any and all cases of fraud that lead us to unscrupulous citizenship consultants who may still be out there, with the help of the RCMP and the CBSA if necessary.
This is a smaller citizenship issue than it has been in our much larger and more complicated immigration programs. However, the need for integrity and to enforce the very high standards of behaviour is as strong here on the citizenship side as it is on the immigration side. Citizenship is a privilege that involves immeasurable benefits for Canadians, but it also brings with it responsibilities.
That is why we are absolutely determined to address abuse and fraud. That is why we do not think that terrorism, espionage, treason, and taking up arms against the Canadian Forces are compatible with Canadian citizenship, and we will revoke it for those who have dual nationality. They will have, in effect, withdrawn their allegiance to Canada by these very acts. The principle of allegiance has been an elementary principle behind citizenship. Those who show these gross forms of disloyalty have clearly forfeited their allegiance, and if they are dual nationals, they will forfeit their citizenship as well.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister once again for his speech. Unfortunately, the NDP will not be supporting this bill.
Some parts of the bill are sure to be challenged in court. Unfortunately, I expect that the Supreme Court will once again be called upon to strike down a bill that the Conservative government is forcing Canadians to accept. It is forcing Canadians to use up valuable resources to strike down bills that do not deserve the support of the House.
I just cannot understand why the government always expects the Supreme Court to fix its mistakes. The government is abusing the legal system, and I find it very discouraging that the minister has introduced a bill as badly written as Bill C-24.
There are some very good parts to this bill. For example, it finally addresses the problem of stateless Canadians, lost Canadians. Many of them are people who were involved in the Second World War. In 2007, the Conservatives came up with a bill to fix the problem, but they messed up again because they just do not take the time to draft their bills properly. They had to introduce this bill to fix the mistake they made in 2007.
Fortunately, it seems that the lost Canadians problem will finally be fixed. I should at least thank the minister for that, but the government should have taken its time in 2007 to fix the problem once and for all.
The Conservatives keep talking about how this is the first time in 25 years that there have been major changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Actually, the government has changed immigration laws and regulations several times, without ever solving the problems. What about the 320,000 people who are still waiting for their applications to be processed so they can become Canadian citizens? That is because of the Conservatives' cuts.
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration does not have sufficient resources to process the applications. The Conservatives are saying that they will speed up the process, but they are the ones who created major delays. It is simply their fault. I would like this government to start learning from its mistakes, to admit them and be accountable for them, instead of always saying that everything is better. We keep going backwards. Every time we take one step forward, we take 12 steps back. According to the Conservatives, we should be celebrating this step forward and hiding the 12 steps back.
The government should admit that it is unable to manage the immigration file. The temporary foreign workers file very clearly shows that the department is out of control, and the minister is responsible for that. He missed his chance to solve the problems. Instead, he is hiding behind blacklists. More and more people are waiting to be admitted to Canada, while the Conservatives keep trying to make us believe that they are solving the problem. Unfortunately, Bill C-24 is their only proposal.
Let us get into the details of Bill C-24. The Conservatives keep saying that they are going to take away the citizenship of individuals who commit immigration fraud, the idea being to deport them from Canada. Are there so many people in Canada who have defrauded the system that we do not have the tools to fix the situation? We already have the Criminal Code, regulations and police forces that are fully capable of going and finding people who defraud Canada's immigration system. With the tools we have, we can crack down on people who commit crimes in Canada, and we can decide whether to deport them from the country. That is already set out. We do not need this bill to solve the problem that the government keeps on raising.
One of the alarming aspects of this bill is the fact that it is a mirage. The Conservatives would have us believe that they are going to solve a problem, when the problem stems from their inability to manage the file. In order to try to solve the problem, the government decided to give the minister additional discretionary powers.
The minister can now decide, based on a balance of probabilities, to revoke the citizenship of a Canadian, without that person having the right to appeal, the right to natural justice or the right to present evidence to a judge. Only the minister, in his little office, with documents in front of him, on a mere balance of probabilities, can revoke an individual's citizenship. It is beyond comprehension why the minister would want such a responsibility, because in our legal system people have the right to be respected. In this case, there is a risk of abusing that right. Once again, why create a situation where rights can be abused?
This bill will probably be challenged in court because it threatens the fundamental right of citizenship. There is nothing more fundamental in a free and democratic society than citizenship. How can the minister sleep at night? Quite frankly, I do not know.
The bill creates new residency criteria. The residency requirement will increase from three to four years. The person must remain and intend to remain in Canada for this entire period.
I would like to point out that the intent to reside is a vague principle that is difficult to prove. I invite the minister to go and see the people at the Canada Revenue Agency and ask them how successful they have been with respect to proof of residency in Canada. It is a very difficult thing to prove.
Under the bill, an individual must show proof of residency for four years. The individual bears the burden of proof. It is up to the applicant to prove this. How do you prove intent to reside? If a person encounters a problem and must return to their country of birth because a family member is ill and needs their help, does he still intend to reside in Canada? How can he prove this intent when he is abroad?
I would not want to see such discretionary items on the minister's table so that he can make decisions based just on a preponderance. We are well aware that the preponderance is in the minister's head and nowhere else. It is up to him to determine whether there is sufficient preponderance of evidence to revoke an individual's citizenship. That is completely unacceptable.
In terms of the bill, frankly, it is high time the government fixed the problem of lost Canadians. I agree with that and I am very pleased that the minister will be able to fix the problem of lost Canadians.
However, as for the other citizens whose citizenship the minister plans to revoke, there may be individuals who have always lived in Canada, who are deported and who find themselves in a country that they are simply not familiar with. I do not think that is very charitable on our part, regardless of the reasons why the minister thinks the person should leave the country.
Once again, if the minister is convinced, on a simple preponderance of evidence, that the person committed fraud to enter Canada, it is not enough.
Since 2008, 25 changes have been made to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, including a moratorium on sponsoring parents and grandparents, fewer family reunifications, punishments for vulnerable refugees and an increase in the number of temporary foreign workers. The Conservatives have made changes to the immigration system that fail to improve the efficiency and fairness of the system.
On the contrary, they created a system that is so rigid that penalties are being imposed that should not be.
Before the Conservatives, Canada was a country that was very welcoming to immigrants. Our country is basically built on immigration. My family is an immigrant family. My ancestors came from England and France. My great-grandparents, who came to Canada from France, would have come here today as refugees. They were Huguenots. That religion was frowned upon in France and they had to flee the country. They came to Canada, a safe haven.
Huguenots were considered terrorists in France at the time, and any who wanted to come to Canada would have been deported. They never would have been granted citizenship based on this government's way of thinking. At the time, we were a welcoming country. We would have let them come settle here. In fact, we did welcome them, and since then, they have built a good family life here in Canada. However, with the criteria set out in the bill before me, these people would never have been accepted. They would have been deported. That is not very welcoming.
The first time I realized that people living outside Canada do not have the same advantages as we do—advantages that we basically take for granted—was during the Prague Spring.
In 1967, Russia overthrew the government of the former Czechoslovakia by means of a military invasion. My family welcomed refugees from that country. Under the rules set out in this bill, those refugees would have been considered terrorists. They would have never been granted Canadian citizenship and they would have been deported.
We are supposed to be a welcoming country that abides by international law. Unfortunately, the bill before us transforms us into exactly the opposite.
The minister also stated, “In cases where citizenship was fraudulently obtained, it can already be revoked.”
Let us come back to the matter of people who would never have been found guilty elsewhere. Such individuals would not be considered terrorists in a country where there was a revolution, such as Czechoslovakia or France in the time of the Huguenots. These are simply people who came to Canada in good faith with good will, but who are found guilty because fraud occurred somewhere along the line. This fraud, which was perhaps unintentional, was committed in good faith or bad faith, but regardless, fraud occurred.
The minister himself said that we already have tools to deport people from Canada and strip them of their citizenship. If those tools already exist, I do not know why the government is forcing the House and Canadians to accept Bill C-24.
It would be nice if the government stopped wasting our time and resources, when we could simply be using the existing tools.
In my opinion, the Conservatives just like to play political games. They are not proposing these things because they think there is a need for them, but because they want to talk about their policies and ideology. It gives them the opportunity to be ideological and waste Parliament's and Canadians' resources for purely partisan reasons.
The Conservatives are trying to win more votes in certain ridings; that much is clear. They do not want to improve Canada's immigration system. If they wanted to improve it, 300,000 people would not be waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed. The Conservatives would have taken care of that. In addition, they would not have fired 28,000 federal public servants. Instead, they would have hired more people to process the applications.
The Conservative government keeps doing things backwards. It starts by creating problems and then it finds poorly designed solutions for the problems it created.
I am very discouraged by the fact that this bill was introduced in the House. It was discussed in committee. Some witnesses appeared before the committee. It is worth noting that the BC Civil Liberties Association sent a letter after it testified. On May 23, 2014, the association said the following:
In my view Bill C-24 will change a core principle of Canadian citizenship—that all Canadians have equal rights.
As was said during question period today, we are creating a two-tier citizenship system in Canada. This bill is creating another class of citizenship, and people could lose their Canadian citizenship, once again, on the mere preponderance of evidence and the minister's say-so. That is not enough, and it is not at all satisfactory that the minister should have such excessive power.
I want to go back to the intent to reside provision. I would like to talk about it again. In her testimony, the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic stated that:
…not only is the new intent to reside provision unfair, as it only applies to people who are naturalized citizens, not people who are born in Canada, but it could lead to revocation of citizenship from Canadians who are deemed to have obtained their citizenship status by misrepresenting their intent to reside, even when they may have legitimate reasons to leave Canada, such as for employment reasons or family obligations. As well, this provision is potentially in breach of section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the mobility rights to all Canadian citizens, both native born and naturalized alike, as well as section 15 of the charter, the equality rights provision.
The file of someone who has to leave Canada unexpectedly could end up on the minister's desk with the apparently preponderant evidence that the person no longer has the intention to reside in Canada. Not only do we need to know whether or not this discretionary power should be given to the minister, we also need to know why we want to open the door to what would clearly be a legal challenge based on the charter.
There also used to be a fund so that people could make charter challenges, but the Conservatives cut off access to that program. Now there will be an additional difficulty: not only will people targeted by this legislation have to go to court to mount a charter challenge, but, if they are not well-off, they will not have enough money to hire a lawyer and make their case in court. Once again, we have two-tiered citizenship. There is one kind of citizenship for those who have money and another kind for those who do not. This is wholly unacceptable in a free and democratic society.
I would like to end by quoting Amnesty International on the subject of revoking citizenship:
...the Supreme Court of Canada said...“The social compact requires the citizen to obey the laws created by the democratic process. But it does not follow that failure to do so nullifies the citizen’s continued membership in the self-governing polity. Indeed, the remedy of imprisonment for a term rather than permanent exile implies our acceptance of continued membership in the social order.”In other words, the Supreme Court of Canada stated quite clearly that punishing somebody by depriving them of their constitutional rights, indeed, by denying them all constitutional rights and casting them out in the name of the social contract, is not constitutional.
View Bernard Trottier Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the member's speech. He said that the minister already had the tools to revoke citizenship from dual citizens if they commit fraud. I hope he realizes that the minister is able to do that now.
Is the member defending the status quo and saying that it is acceptable to be able to revoke citizenship from dual citizens if they commit fraud, but not if they commit more serious offences such as terrorism, spying or treason?
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his good question.
I want to point out that when I said that the minister had tools at his disposal, I was talking about natural justice. We have a legal process for revoking citizenship from someone in the case of fraud or other types of crimes. My problem with this bill is that there is no process of natural justice. It is a discretionary process. The minister has that discretion and can make decisions as he sees fit. It is up to him to determine whether he is satisfied on a balance of probabilities. This decision should be left to jurists, after all of the interested parties have had a chance to submit evidence. We need a system based on equality, not on inequality.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 19:23 [p.6780]
Mr. Speaker, since January this has been a two-part phase. One is the legislative part, which we are debating now. Another is the implementation of a policy that landed residents now have to have English testing.
I am wondering if the member might want to provide some comments on that requirement.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is troubling that there are new language requirements in the bill. I would like to point out that the government does not believe that many in its own employ have to meet those kinds of language requirements. The government does not agree that Supreme Court justices have that kind of language requirement.
We should have some consensus. We should have language requirements in this country that are consistent for everyone. We should not expect immigrants to be held to a higher standard than people in this chamber or the people in high justice situations, such as the Supreme Court. We need to have some fundamental equality here.
If the government stopped cutting programs so that people could actually get that kind of language acquisition, maybe this element would make a little more sense. However, if the government keeps cutting back on all the programs and prospective citizens do not get the training they need, surely they could never respect the language requirements that the bill is presenting.
View Anne-Marie Day Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, QED means what had to be demonstrated. The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles clearly demonstrated that two types of Canadians were being created. There are Canadians and immigrant Canadians.
If we take the example of extreme cases of notorious terrorists or spies, those individuals can be tried in Canada if they are Canadian. However, if they are not native-born Canadians, they will be deported and their citizenship will be revoked. That is wrong. You are either Canadian or you are not. We do not have two systems. I would like to hear what the member has to say about that.
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent question. I would like to point out that the work she does in her riding is second to none. She is probably the best MP the region has had in quite some time. I would like to congratulate her on all the work she is doing.
As for her question, two-tier citizenship is definitely unacceptable. You are either a citizen or you are not.
Canada has constitutional guarantees that all Canadians should benefit from. According to many experts we saw, the bill has created an unacceptable situation in a free and democratic society. The Canadian Bar Association clearly stated that this bill would almost certainly end up before the Supreme Court. It is almost certain that many aspects of this bill will be deemed unconstitutional. Two-tier citizenship is one of those aspects.
It is unfortunate to have to move in that direction. If the bill is challenged in court, I hope that the Supreme Court will deal with this file quickly so that there is more fairness in this country.
View Denis Blanchette Profile
NDP (QC)
View Denis Blanchette Profile
2014-06-12 19:27 [p.6781]
Mr. Speaker, the minister often compares Canada to other NATO countries. That bothers me because I think that an independent country should do things its own way.
What does my colleague think of the fact that the government is trying to standardize our practices with those of other countries? Does he think that is the right thing to do?
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
When we change Canada's laws and regulations to standardize them with those of other countries, we must first verify whether other countries' legislation is consistent with our laws, charters and customs.
The Conservative government is not introducing this bill to improve the immigration system. This is partisan-driven. The government is looking for more voters in the next election. It would have us believe that this bill is militaristic. The government keeps talking about the First World War, the Second World War, and NATO.
The bill is about immigration in 2014. To my knowledge, we are not bringing immigrants into Canada to send them into the army and declare war elsewhere. People come to Canada first and foremost to seek refuge, then to contribute to the Canadian economy, democracy and the good life we lead. That is what immigration is about. We are welcoming here in Canada.
There is no room for partisanship in bills. Bills should be able to stand alone. Unfortunately, this bill does not stand up at all.
View Anne-Marie Day Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to rise on a point of order, but when I was naming the riding of the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, I used the name of my own riding instead. Would it be possible to correct the record?
View Philip Toone Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that clarification.
We all do our best to represent our ridings. I can guarantee that people living in the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands are very concerned about this bill. Society should continue to be free and democratic. This bill, however, does not comply with the charter. It does not embody the fundamental characteristics of a free and democratic society.
I would not be surprised if the people represented by the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, a name we have heard frequently of late, also want a society based on freedom and democracy. Regardless of which riding we represent, those basic values always matter.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 19:30 [p.6781]
Mr. Speaker, I know the former minister of immigration has been waiting in great anticipation of what I might have to say, because he knows full well that when I get the opportunity to talk about immigration and citizenship, I like to reflect on not only the current minister but the past minister. I like to take a holistic approach in dealing with the issues as I see them and as many of my Liberal colleagues see them. The government often chooses to use immigration and citizenship in an inappropriate fashion, if I can put it that way, maybe putting politics ahead of what is in the best interest of good, solid, sound immigration and citizenship policy. I would not mind talking a bit about that, being afforded the opportunity to again share my thoughts.
I come to this issue because, over the last 20-plus years, I have had the opportunity of representing in a very real and tangible way a community in Winnipeg North that has allowed me to deal with immigration and citizenship issues, at one time maybe on a weekly basis. That has evolved into dealing with numerous immigration cases on a daily basis. Depending on who we might talk to and depending on the week and the time of the year, it could be anywhere from 200 to 300 or 400 cases.
There is a great deal of satisfaction in working with people and helping them on immigration files and citizenship files. I could provide the House with endless examples that will give an indication of just how off base the government of the day has been in regard to immigration policy. The government has fallen short, not in one or two areas but in a number of areas. I am hoping, by being able to provide direct input to those who are ultimately responsible, both the former minister and the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, that they will recognize that they need to start working on behalf of our immigrant community. When I say immigrant community, I am talking about the wider grouping of individuals who live in Canada, call Canada their home, and do so in a very proud fashion.
I was very pleased to have been appointed immigration critic when I was first elected after the general election, and I enjoyed it immensely. When I think of immigration policy, I can say that there has not been that much change in the government's attitude in terms of policy and the direction in which the department is going. This is something that I would like to highlight.
There are so many things I could be talking about. Let me start by commenting specifically on a bill known as “425”. Bill C-425 was a private member's bill that was introduced last year by a backbench Conservative member of Parliament. What was that member of Parliament hoping to be able to do through that legislation? He came up with an idea that we should give citizenship out to individuals who have been here for three out of four years. His idea was to allow for military personnel to acquire their citizenship after two years. This is something that was proposed by a Conservative member of Parliament, and it actually received fairly good support from all members of this House. Maybe he did not have the green light from the Prime Minister's Office. The bill passed the House and went into committee, and the arguments that were brought forward at the time were that three out of four years was a good overall policy, that it would work, and that there was nothing wrong with it.
What the member and others around the table were talking about was, in fact, reducing it for certain individuals who decide to serve in the Canadian Forces. I remember the debate well, because I was the critic at the time.
Listening to the comments in this chamber, I did not hear one member—not one Conservative, not one New Democrat, and definitely not one Liberal—make the suggestion that we needed to increase the residency requirement. No one was talking about that, not even the then minister of immigration.
When it came time to provide comment on Bill C-425, what did the then minister of immigration choose to talk about? He chose to talk about the dual citizens. He chose to talk about how important it is to be able to deport or take away citizenship from individuals who commit a crime of treason, and he cited a couple of other things. That was the minister's concern. He not once mentioned that we should be increasing the residency requirement from three years to four years.
Something happened over that late fall from October to November that triggered a thought. I do not know what triggered it, but the thought was to make it more difficult, or increase the requirements, for someone to achieve citizenship. I question why the government made that decision, because it definitely was not an issue. We know that. If it had been an issue, if MPs or the government were being challenged on the issue, it would have been brought up at the immigration committee. The minister of immigration back then would have raised the issue. However, they chose not to, because it was not an issue then. It is only the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration who decided this was an issue.
I will put one caveat on that. I suspect that someone within the Prime Minister's Office might have had a say on that issue. Maybe a new minister, being eager and wanting to please the leader, decided he would do that even though there was no need. There was no need. This is what I believe has actually taken place. It is a change that is being dictated from the Prime Minister's Office, which wants to make it four years as opposed to three years, even though it was not an issue. I suggest that is bad policy.
I was not surprised when the government made the decision it would double the cost of the application for citizenship, because it hinted about that in the immigration committee. We could tell by some of the questions Conservatives were asking. We anticipated that the government was considering an increase. That was not a surprise. The surprise was the fact that it wanted to increase the residency period.
An hon. member: Louder.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, if the member does not like my volume, he is welcome to leave the chamber.
At the end of the day, we believe that the government has made a bad decision, and the vast majority of the Conservative caucus recognize that. However, of course, there will not be any free vote on this legislation.
What have the Conservatives done in citizenship? They have created a crisis. When they took office, they increased the processing time for a person to acquire the eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship. They rapidly increased the processing time.
When the Conservatives took office, it took roughly a year for a person to acquire the necessary paperwork when applying for his or her citizenship. What is it today? When I say 28 months, I am being very generous. It is likely closer to 30 months. That is for the majority of individuals who put in their applications; I will give the government that much. What does that mean in a very real way? It means, Mr. Speaker, that if you had put in your application today, under the Paul Martin or Jean Chrétien governments you would have had it a year from today. Now we are talking about at least three years, and heaven forbid that a residential background check is required. If that has to be done, we are talking about five years, six years, and even beyond that.
This is the government that created the crisis with processing times. Now what does it say about this legislation? It says it is going to fix the problem. It has a new process and it is going to fix the processing times. It did not require legislation to fix the processing times. It required the political will, and that is what has been lacking with the government. It does not have the political will to improve the processing time; and that does not only apply to citizenship. It has no qualms about processing times for other immigration types of programs. What does it do? It always blames the other government. It constantly does that, and it is just not true.
The minister who had the most significant increase in backlog in the skilled worker program was, in fact, the former minister, the individual sitting across from me right now. When he issued ministerial instructions, he increased the backlog by more than 130,000—I believe that was the number—over a period of weeks. How did the government deal with backlogs? It froze the program of sponsoring parents and grandparents for over three years. It hit the delete button. Imagine deleting 300,000 people who were waiting for years.
The point is that the government has been playing politics when it comes to immigration and citizenship, and it has done a miserable job. It has failed, and I would ultimately argue that it has intentionally failed, because it could have been doing more. The current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration says, “Look at how wonderful we are. We have this legislation and we are developing a new process. Our target is to reduce the processing times from three years to one year, and we will do it by 2016.” This is the government that created the crisis that built it up to three years, and it does not require legislation to get down under a year. That could have been done without legislation.
What will be the real impact on people in our communities—outstanding, wonderful, contributing individuals? What will the real, tangible impact be? Let me tell a couple of stories.
Someone met up with me at my local McDonald's on a Saturday and told me his passport had expired. I will use the example of the Philippines, because this is what in fact happened. The problem is that he has applied for his citizenship, which means he does not have the ability to go to the Philippines after a death in the family. He has now been waiting for well over a year for his citizenship. He asked me if there is anything I can do.
Maybe if there is a two- or three-week period of time and it looks very close to being finalized, a member of Parliament might be able to assist to a certain degree, depending on the situation. However, when there is a waiting period of two and half years, and a person is one year in, and the homeland passport is no longer valid, there is very little one can do when the person needs to get the documents quickly so that they can be there for a funeral or something of that nature.
How many permanent residents do we have in Canada today who have been waiting for their citizenship well beyond a year? We are not talking about a few thousand. We are talking about well over 200,000 people who have been waiting for over a year.
One of the privileges of having Canadian citizenship is having a passport. I do not know if the government is sensitive to that fact, because it is denying Canadian passports, due to its incompetence or its decision to frustrate the system, to tens of thousands of people who should be Canadians today.
Imagine wanting to be a long-distance truck driver obligated to cross the Canada-U.S. border. What do they want? They want valid passports.
What if one wanted to travel to the United States to see friends or travel anywhere outside of Canada? What about getting on a plane? One of the most common pieces of identification asked for is one's Canadian passport.
Why are we making people wait three years? Do not tell me it is because we needed this legislation, because that is a bogus argument. It is not necessary.
Some hon. members: Wrong.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: No, Mr. Speaker, right. Just because there are a number of Conservatives on the other side saying “wrong”, including the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, does not mean that they are right.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 19:48 [p.6783]
I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker.
There is an election taking place today in the province of Ontario. Imagine the tens of thousands of people who should be able to vote today, but because of the Conservative government's incompetence in dealing with the issue, because of the three-year-plus waiting period to get citizenship, they are being denied the opportunity to vote. I speak first-hand about the great sense of pride new Canadians have when it comes time to be able to express themselves by going to the polls and voting, yet what sort of response do we get from the government? It is most unfortunate.
There are many aspects of the legislation the Liberal Party is uncomfortable with. The Liberal Party critic has enunciated a number of flaws. Our expectations are far greater.
I must conclude my remarks by saying that the comments by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration about millions of second-class citizens during the 1970s and 1980s because of a change in government policy backed by Pierre Elliott Trudeau was really a disservice. I suggest that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration apologize for those comments.
However, I am thankful for this opportunity to share a few thoughts.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2014-06-12 19:50 [p.6783]
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to be a Canadian citizen, and it is a privilege for me to rise in this House to address this point.
Women in this country were given their citizenship and the right to vote about 100 years ago. The Chinese did not get their right to vote until 1947. The South Asians did not get their right to citizenship until 1948. Although many Japanese during the internment period were born in Canada, they did not have the right to vote in the 1950s. This was all under the rules of the former Liberal government.
If we had let the Chinese write their laws when we first came to this country in 1421, if I remember properly, we probably would have written them in such a way that one would have to live here a lifetime before being permitted to be a citizen. Under Chinese law, if one parent was from Switzerland and the other from Japan, the children would have to be either Japanese, Swiss, or Chinese and they would have to change their name before they could be citizens.
It is a privilege to be a Canadian citizen. As we define that privilege, I think this current act does a good job. What are we looking for? We are looking for the intent to stay, a commitment to this country, to be grounded in this environment, to pay taxes, and to learn the language so that people can communicate as Canadian citizens. Those are the elements that are necessary.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 19:52 [p.6784]
Mr. Speaker, the member brings up an interesting point. I suspect that many of those issues would have been resolved when Mr. Trudeau, as prime minister, would have brought in the legislation. I think the Conservatives need to recognize a good thing. We had a better thing in terms of three out of four years versus what is being proposed in this legislation. My gut feeling is that the member who posed the question knows that, because he sat on the immigration committee with me. He will recall that not one member of Parliament, not one presenter, made the suggestion that three out of four years was not good enough. Why did the government make the decision to change it to four years?
I am sure the member has posed that question to himself, because it was a surprise. A tip probably came from the Prime Minister's office.
View Christine Moore Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, since my colleague spoke at length about this in his speech, I would like to go back to expedited access to citizenship for persons who are serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Of course we support this measure. It makes sense that someone who has served in the armed forces should have faster access to citizenship. That being said, the problem with this measure is that it applies to almost nobody. The simple fact is that to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, one must be a Canadian citizen. If one is not a citizen, one cannot join the forces. I did not even know that, but I looked into it and I found out that in some cases, the Chief of the Defence Staff can authorize an individual with the necessary training to serve in a position where there is a skills shortage.
When I asked how many people this would affect, I was told that it was fewer than 10. Currently, fewer than 10 people serving in the armed forces will be able to benefit from this measure.
I would like to know what the member thinks about that. Did the government try to include a measure that looks good on the surface but that really applies to almost nobody as a way of making the rest of it, which is pretty bad, look better?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2014-06-12 19:55 [p.6784]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question.
If we go to the Canadian Forces website, we see that it says that one has to be a Canadian to apply. The question is why we would allow the residency requirement to be reduced for someone to become a Canadian. There are very few this would actually apply to.
The member is quite right. Generally speaking, there may be individuals outside of Canada who might be recruited by the hierarchy within the military, brought to Canada, and offered something of this nature. There are very few. I had the opportunity to question the military directly on the issue, and I can confirm that it is a very low number.
This goes back to Bill C-425, if that is what the member was trying to get across. It is only meant as a gesture of symbolism to try to give an impression. It is not as if there is going to be a Canadian Forces recruitment banner at the airport as new immigrants come walking in.
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