Change to citizenship oath not needed, [Conservative MP] Melillo

The Conservatives are making this an issue (while I agree with the original TRC proposed additional wording, the government version is excessively long – see Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights):

Kenora MP Eric Melillo says a change to Canada’s Oath to Citizenship shouldn’t be the priority of the House of Commons, as the Indigenous community is facing much larger issues than the wording of an oath.

In his comments at the House of Commons, Melillo spoke of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. The bill aims to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #94, which is to update Canada’s current Oath of Citizenship. The official oath is recited at a citizenship ceremony, and it is the final step to becoming a Canadian citizen.

“As an MP who represents 42 First Nation communities in my riding, I recently took the opportunity to speak with chiefs, community leaders and community members on their thoughts on this proposed change,” said Melillo.

The current oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The proposed new oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

“What I heard resoundingly, was that we should not be spending our time debating this, when we could be talking about issues like clean drinking water, healthcare, and many things that impact the lives of First Nation communities much more prominently,” added Melillo.

In response, Richmond Hill MP Majid Jowhari says that this is just one step on the journey of reconciliation, and more needs to be done.

As of Feb. 15, 88 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted since November 2015, and 62 long-term drinking water advisories are still in effect. This is actually higher than the previous 57-long term advisories that were in place as of July 10, 2019.

Across Canada, northwestern Ontario has the highest concentration of long-term drinking water advisories. Of the 62 advisories remaining, 20 can be found in the Kenora District.

Source: Change to citizenship oath not needed, Melillo

Peter Kent, at Second Reading, on 24 February:

….In the week since these proposed changes were reintroduced by the government, I have received messages from constituents, and from far beyond, which contend that this amendment amounts to typical Liberal tokenism and virtue signalling, pandering and should be opposed.

    I cannot speak to the Liberal government’s motivation here, because when it comes to public policy, inconsistency and contradiction are the hallmarks of legislative process and decision-making. However, I can say that I have spoken often in this House against proposals, very often from the Liberal government, to burden various sections of clearly written sections of law, of the Criminal Code, with unneeded specificities.
    In this debate, I must be clear that I believe the existing oath of citizenship does not need to be burdened with 19 new words that I believe are redundant. If we are to add first nations specificity, why not official bilingualism, why not privacy, why not national security, why not anti-Semitism?
    Therefore, I propose the following amendment. I move:
     That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), since the existing Oath of Citizenship already includes the profound promise of citizens to faithfully observe the laws of Canada and the bill does nothing to support real action to address reconciliation with Canada’s first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Rail blockades could affect vote to change citizenship oath: Conservative critic

May be more virtue signalling to the Conservative base or just another way to raise the profile of the blockade issue and the government’s response. But we shall see (for my earlier commentary on the proposed change to the oath, C-99 New Citizenship Oath: Dead on the Order Paper):

Blockades by Indigenous protesters will make it harder for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to adopt planned legislation to add respect for First Nations treaties to Canada’s citizenship oath, says Conservative immigration critic Peter Kent.

“It will be difficult to engage in debate of this piece of legislation without the shadow of this week’s illegal blockades and the refusal of some in the Indigenous community, and many beyond the Indigenous community, to respect the rule of law,” Kent told CBC News on Friday.

Blockades by Mohawk protesters near Belleville, Ont., have snarled train traffic and stalled shipments of goods by rail. They are calling on the RCMP to leave Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia, where hereditary leaders were blocking roads leading to a construction site for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has served notice that he plans to reintroduce a bill first tabled last May in the dying days of the last Parliament. The bill would require new citizens to promise to observe the laws of Canada, “including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which studied the impact of Canada’s residential school system, recommended adding respect for treaties to the citizenship oath.

Trudeau made changing the oath one of his instructions to former immigration minister Ahmed Hussen in his 2017 mandate letter. By the time legislation was finally tabled, however, there wasn’t enough time left before the House of Commons rose for the summer — then dissolved for the election — for it to be adopted.

Now, the 157-seat Liberal minority government is facing a very different Parliament — one where it needs the support of one or more opposition parties to get legislation passed.

Mendicino has started that process; he reached out to Kent on Friday to discuss the bill.

Kent said it’s too early to predict whether the 121-member Conservative caucus will vote to change the oath. However, he said, the blockades should trigger a “dynamic” debate in the House of Commons and within the Conservative caucus.

“This would have received, I think it is fair to say, dynamic debate in the previous Parliament if it had been tabled in time for a responsible consideration,” he said. “But I think in this minority Parliament, and given the realities that we see today, it’s going to be perhaps more dynamic than it might have been.”Kent said the Conservative Party respects treaty rights and the quest for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. He also said it could be argued that a promise in the existing citizenship oath — to observe Canada’s laws — encompasses treaty rights.

“Although I stand to be convinced in debate, I’m not sure that the specificity of including treaties, which are respected and which are among our body of laws, need to be specifically added,” Kent said.

“This is an opportunity to discuss and debate and hear from all quarters.”

Carolane Landry, spokeswoman for the 32-seat Bloc Québécois caucus, said the party will wait to read the bill before deciding whether to support it.

The 24-seat New Democratic Party caucus has not yet responded to questions from CBC News about whether it plans to endorse Mendicino’s bill.

Source: Rail blockades could affect vote to change citizenship oath: Conservative critic