Liberals to repeal citizenship law Bill C-24: immigration minister – “coming days”

Whether in the form of “tweaks”, “significant” or “radical” changes (the Minister has used all three terms), likely that the changes will be more substantive than mere tweaks.

But overall, messaging is a reversal of the previous government’s approach of making citizenship “harder to get and easier to lose.”

The extent to which this undermines some of the needed integrity measures introduced by the Conservatives – more rigorous knowledge and language testing, physical residency requirements etc – remains to be seen, although the Minister in Committee did state the importance of language knowledge to integration.

These changes happen in the context of a significant decline in the number of persons applying for citizenship: from an average of around 200,000 in past years, to about 130,000 in the last three years.

Will be hosting a citizenship workshop at Metropolis next week in Toronto and should the Minister literally announce this within days, we will have a good discussion regarding the changes (I will post my deck next week, essentially an updated version of Citizenship – Canadian Ethnic Studies 24 Oct 2015 with more recent data:

Immigration Minister John McCallum says the government will announce significant changes to the Citizenship Act in the coming days.

Mr. McCallum said Tuesday that the Liberals will soon follow through on their election pledge to repeal the Conservatives’ controversial Bill C-24, which gave the government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

Asked when the changes will be unveiled, Mr. McCallum told The Globe and Mail to expect an announcement “in coming days, but not very many days.”

During last year’s election campaign, the Liberal platform committed to “repeal the unfair elements of Bill C-24 that create second-class citizens and the elements that make it more difficult for hard-working immigrants to become Canadian citizens.”

Mr. McCallum said the government’s announcement will make it impossible to revoke citizenship.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” Mr. McCallum said, repeating a line used by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a heated election debate last September. “We would not revoke people’s citizenship. … That will certainly be a part of it [the announcement],” the Immigration Minister added.

Mr. McCallum said the government will also remove barriers to citizenship posed by Bill C-24.

“We believe that it’s better to make it easier rather than harder for people to become citizens.”

However, he did not say which specific barriers would be addressed.

Source: Liberals to repeal citizenship law Bill C-24: immigration minister – The Globe and Mail

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.

4 Responses to Liberals to repeal citizenship law Bill C-24: immigration minister – “coming days”

  1. Justin Munce, Publisher of The Speaker says:

    What does it mean that only 130,000 are applying? There are still around 300,000 or so new immigrants every year, right?

    • Andrew says:

      Justin, you are correct regarding the imbalance. The number of new immigrants is closer to 250,000 but roughly only half of that number are submitting applications. Unclear the extent to which the changes announced today will have an effect.

      • Justin Munce, Publisher of The Speaker says:

        From what i understand, the number of legal immigrants not counting temporary workers and such is still above 250,000, but including temp workers and others, its around 300,000.

        You’ve been covering this issue pretty thoroughly, but I have two questions on it:

        1) have the Liberals offered any justification for returning to a system where more immigrants will not speak English / French, and for longer. How is this a benefit to Canadians, in other words.

        2) the voice of Canadians. I see you did a broad overview of the varying opinions on the change, but what about the voice of Canadians. Are any in favor of a change toward more immigrants who can’t / may never speak a common language with them?

  2. Andrew says:

    In response to your questions:

    1. reducing the testing requirement from 64 to 54 will affect about 5-6 percent of the total number applying (the 14-17 year olds will have been in the school system for 4-6 years so will meet the language requirements and knowledge to the extent that Canadian kids do).

    2. Most Canadians, myself included, believe that language is essential to integration. There are some who disagree of course. One can disagree with the Government’s decision but it reflected a response to constituents in ridings where visible minorities form a significant share.

    But what is noteworthy, from my perspective, is the Government did not go further. No dilution of the language benchmark and assessment rigour, no easing of the requirement that the knowledge test must be done in Eng or French and not through an interpreter.

    So I view these changes through the perspective of how the Government had to respond to some pressures, did so partially, but without undermining the overall integration approach to citizenship.

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