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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 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. 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.
This enactment amends the Citizenship Act to, among other things, update eligibility requirements for Canadian citizenship, strengthen security and fraud provisions and amend provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions.
Amendments to the eligibility requirements include(a) clarifying the meaning of being resident in Canada;(b) modifying the period during which a permanent resident must reside in Canada before they may apply for citizenship;(c) expediting access to citizenship for persons who are serving in, or have served in, the Canadian Armed Forces;(d) requiring that an applicant for citizenship demonstrate, in one of Canada’s official languages, knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;(e) specifying the age as of which an applicant for citizenship must demonstrate the knowledge referred to in paragraph (d) and must demonstrate an adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages;(f) requiring that an applicant meet any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act to file a return of income;(g) conferring citizenship on certain individuals and their descendants who may not have acquired citizenship under prior legislation;(h) extending an exception to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent to children born to or adopted abroad by parents who were themselves born to or adopted abroad by Crown servants; and(i) requiring, for a grant of citizenship for an adopted person, that the adoption not have circumvented international adoption law.
Amendments to the security and fraud provisions include(a) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who are charged outside Canada for an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament or who are serving a sentence outside Canada for such an offence;(b) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who, while they were permanent residents, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring those persons from acquiring citizenship;(c) aligning the grounds related to security and organized criminality on which a person may be denied citizenship with those grounds in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and extending the period during which a person is barred from acquiring citizenship on that basis;(d) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who, in the course of their application, misrepresent material facts and prohibiting new applications by those persons for a specified period;(e) increasing the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences;(f) increasing the maximum penalties for offences related to citizenship, including fraud and trafficking in documents of citizenship;(g) providing for the regulation of citizenship consultants;(h) establishing a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality;(i) increasing the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after their citizenship has been revoked;(j) providing for the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens who, while they were Canadian citizens, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring these individuals from reacquiring citizenship; and(k) authorizing regulations to be made respecting the disclosure of information.
Amendments to the provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions include(a) requiring that an application must be complete to be accepted for processing;(b) expanding the grounds and period for the suspension of applications and providing for the circumstances in which applications may be treated as abandoned;(c) limiting the role of citizenship judges in the decision-making process, subject to the Minister periodically exercising his or her power to continue the period of application of that limitation;(d) giving the Minister the power to make regulations concerning the making and processing of applications;(e) providing for the judicial review of any matter under the Act and permitting, in certain circumstances, further appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal; and(f) transferring to the Minister the discretionary power to grant citizenship in special cases.
Finally, the enactment makes consequential amendments to the Federal Courts Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
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. 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.