C-24 – Citizenship Act Revisions – Committee Hearings Started

Will be interesting to see how these play out. First day was essentially introduction plus some initial positions from the opposition parties:

… NDP opposition critic Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe started off by asking Alexander to address the bill’s constitutionality. Given the Harper government’s record on tests of constitutionality before the Supreme Court recently, the question’s a touchy one.

In particular, she asked whether the new requirement for those applying for Canadian citizenship to declare their intention to reside in Canada post-citizenship — violated sections six and 15 of the Charter — those that protect the right to free mobility and equal protection under the law.

“With regard to our bill and the constitution — of course we reviewed this bill in that context. I carried this out with my colleague the minister of justice and we believe this bill is in complete conformity with the requirements of our constitution,” Alexander answered in French.

“It is reasonable, in our view, to require that a permanent resident wishing to become a Canadian citizen express his or her intention to reside in Canada.”

Liberal critic John McCullum focussed on the impact of no longer providing credit to foreign students for time spent in Canada prior to becoming permanent residents as part of residency qualifications. Minister Alexander restated the government’s position.

This change also affects refugees, arguably not a priority for the Government, and live-in caregivers. The latter, largely Filipinos, may, should the Filipino Canadian community become active on this issue, may be more problematic given that this community is one of the Government’s political target communities.

To be continued, and thanks to iPolitics for covering the hearings.

Citizenship reform bill is constitutional, Alexander assures committee

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

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