Citizenship workshop @ImmigrationCBoC: Points of interest

Good workshop panel, with Charlie Foran and Arghavan Gerami joining me, with each of us covering different aspects.

Two points of interest for me that arose in the questions and discussion:

  • The impact of the physical presence requirement on internationally mobile professionals and business people. One CEO made the persuasive case that this requirement precluded citizenship for those based in Canada but whose frequent travel abroad meant they were not able to meet the minimum number of days in Canada requirement; and,
  • A former citizenship judge picking up on this point, noted the reduced role of judges in decision-making meant that the lack of days could not be balanced against the overall contribution such individuals made. The lack of discretion, introduced to provide greater consistency in decision-making (a valid policy and program objective), had consequences for this small but significant group.

Physical presence was introduced to address those who only had a legal residence or presence in Canada but who lived abroad, with the main examples being from Hong Kong and the Gulf countries.

Some early consultations and discussion on residency requirements suggested that making it four out of six years (being changed to three out of five years in C-6) would provide reasonable flexibility for those whose work took them outside Canada (e.g., truckers, pilots and a number of professions), while balancing the need to have the meaningful experience of Canada that came from living here.

I suspect that additional consultations and analysis would provide better data on how many people are affected, or potentially affected, with consequent reflection on whether policy and program adjustments are required.

Given the nature of the Conference Board audience, many of the plenary sessions focussed, directly or indirectly, on questions of business or investor immigration. Most of these speakers were advocates, given the nature of their organization or business, and largely ignored the body of evidence that previous programs had not generated significant economic returns.

One panelist even praised the Quebec model, despite the common knowledge that many if not most business investors in Quebec left, with Chinese investors in particular largely ending up in British Columbia, and who also advocated for a citizenship investor program similar to Malta and Cyprus.

Will be interesting to see if these comments on citizenship and business and investor immigration make it into the Conference Board’s immigration action plan and, if so, the precise nature of the recommendations.

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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