Nelson: Gaining Canadian citizenship is more than just about ticking the box

From rural Alberta, another voice opposing the change. Too much anti-Trudeau vitriol but fundamentals on oath administration sound:

The greatest gift any country can confer is citizenship.

So why is it any surprise, given the ongoing ineptitude involving virtually every branch of our federal administration, that Canada is considering turning such a remarkable moment into something akin to tying your laces?

In fact, if a proposal by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is accepted, becoming a citizen will take even less time than needed to actually fasten your shoes. All it would entail is ticking an online box on a federal website.

No longer would you swear a solemn oath before a judge alongside other assembled proud recent immigrants from across the globe. Nope, you can get it done during a commercial break while watching a hockey game on TV. Won’t that feel oh-so special?

Maybe that’s how our current government sees this country. After all, Justin Trudeau’s administration has spent years apologizing for all sorts of perceived wrongs committed by Canada over the past century. It might therefore reckon becoming an actual citizen of such a dubious land shouldn’t be cause for public celebration.

Well, they’re wrong. So wrong they should hang their collective heads in shame.

Becoming a Canadian citizen, 38 years ago, remains a major highlight in my life: the poignancy of that day in Edmonton, following the required three years as a landed immigrant, remains a proud memory. It’s doubtful I’m alone in that sentiment.

Of course, given the recent track record of our federal government, this sad ‘tick-the-box-and-become-a-Canuck’ plan arises from yet another virtue-signalling boondoggle – one guaranteed to end in confusion and disarray once exposed to the light of day.

OK, according to the latest government figures, there are 358,000 citizenship applications outstanding, with some of those folk waiting more than two years for a ceremony.

Why such a backlog? Well, in his usual preening manner, our prime minister announced immigration levels to Canada would be boosted to such an extent that by 2025 we’ll accept 500,000 newcomers a year.

No doubt Trudeau gets some figurative gold star from the UN for this: yet the fact we can’t process such huge numbers remains an unmentionable and inconvenient truth.

Therefore, is it any wonder fewer and fewer immigrants even bother becoming citizens at all? According to Statistics Canada: in 2021, about 45 per cent of permanent residents in Canada for less than 10 years hadn’t taken citizenship. In 2001, it stood at a much lower 25 per cent.

So, why are more newcomers unwilling to commit to Canada? After all, they picked up sticks and came here in the first place – a huge, life-altering choice to make.

Is Canada becoming simply a country of expediency? Or are those continuing assaults upon our good name and once-stellar reputation, from those supposedly representing us, eroding our national brand?

Add in the organizational chaos facing enthusiastic would-be Canadians resulting in years of delay and it becomes a toxic mix of disengagement.

The official response is promoting a ‘tick-the-online box’ solution.

Such crass make-do is shameful. This is the best country on the planet, populated by a diverse bunch of Homo sapiens, somehow finding joy under sunny skies, even if it’s -20 C outside.

This remains, as always, next year country: the horizon beckons and the past is exactly that: the past. Leave it at the entrance door.

It’s time the federal government realized becoming a Canadian citizen isn’t akin to finding some loose change down the sofa. It’s a remarkable gift to bestow and one that should be suitably celebrated.

Source: COLUMN: Gaining Canadian citizenship is more than just about ticking the box

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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