Ukrainian Canadian Congress
September 26th 2000

SPEAKING NOTES OF UKRAINIAN CANADIAN CONGRESS PRESIDENT EUGENE CZOLIJ BEFORE THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS




MR. CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE,

MY NAME IS EUGENE CZOLIJ AND I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UKRAINIAN CANADIAN CONGRESS.

JOINING ME THIS AFTERNOON IS MR. PETER DOODY OF THE LAW FIRM BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS, WHO PROVIDED LEGAL ADVICE RELATED TO OUR PRESENTATION TODAY.


* * *

THE UKRAINIAN CANADIAN CONGRESS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE UCC, IS THE NATIONAL COORDINATING BODY OF THE UKRAINIAN CANADIAN COMMUNITY.

SINCE ITS INCORPORATION IN 1940, THE UCC HAS PLAYED AN ACTIVE ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL POLICIES AND PROGRAMS, WHICH NOT ONLY IMPACT ON UKRAINIAN CANADIANS, BUT ALSO ON CANADIAN SOCIETY AS A WHOLE.

THROUGH THIS PROACTIVE APPROACH WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENSURE THAT THE VOICE OF OUR COMMUNITY IS HEARD IN AREAS SUCH AS MULTICULTURALISM, IMMIGRATION, JUSTICE MATTERS, CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

SINCE THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA INTRODUCED BILL C-63 IN THE LAST SESSION OF PARLIAMENT, THE UCC HAS MONITORED ITS PROGRESS.

THE UCC HAS GATHERED INFORMATION AND FEEDBACK CONCERNING THIS DRAFT LEGISLATION IN ORDER TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY THE VIEW OF OUR COMMUNITY TO MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT AND TO THIS COMMITTEE.


* * *

ON NOVEMBER 25, 1999, WHEN BILL C-16 WAS TABLED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, THE MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION STATED THAT:

"Citizenship is at the heart of what it means to be Canadian. One of the ways we define ourselves as individuals is through our citizenship."

ON MARCH 30, 2000, WE APPEARED BEFORE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS STANDING COMMITTEE ON CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION AND MADE CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS TO ENSURE THAT THIS MINISTERIAL STATEMENT IS BETTER REFLECTED IN CRITICAL AREAS OF BILL C-16.

UNFORTUNATELY, OUR RECOMMENDATIONS WERE NOT RETAINED. THAT IS WHY WE ARE GRATEFUL TO BE GIVEN THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES ONCE MORE.


* * *

ONE OF THE PRIMARY CONCERNS THE UCC HAS WITH BILL C-16 IS SECTION 17 WHICH DEALS WITH THE REVOCATION OF CITIZENSHIP.

THE REVOCATION OF CITIZENSHIP AND DEPORTATION ARE VERY SERIOUS ISSUES WHICH HAVE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON AN INDIVIDUAL AND HIS/HER FAMILY.

IN SOME CASES, THE LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP COULD LEAD TO A LOSS OF FREEDOM.

THEREFORE, SECTION 17 NEEDS TO STIPULATE THAT AN ONEROUS STANDARD OF PROOF APPLIES IN REVOCATION OF CITIZENSHIP PROCEEDINGS.

IN ADDITION, SECTION 17 SHOULD INCLUDE A LIMITATION PERIOD SIMILAR TO THAT STIPULATED IN SUBSECTION 18(5) OF THE BILL, ESPECIALLY IF THE STANDARD OF PROOF OF "A BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES" REGARDING VIOLATIONS OF THE CITIZENSHIP OF CANADA ACT IS MAINTAINED IN SUBSECTION 17(1).

THIS WOULD ALSO ENSURE THAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD NOT USE DENATURALIZATION AND DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS AGAINST CANADIAN CITIZENS WHO HAVE LIVED IN CANADA FOR A SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF YEARS, EVEN THOUGH THE OVERNMENT'S EMPLOYEES HAD ALREADY DESTROYED IMMIGRATION FILES CONSISTENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S POLICY FOR DISPOSAL OF UNNECESSARY RECORDS AFTER A FIXED TIME.

FURTHERMORE, THIS SECTION SHOULD PROVIDE A RIGHT OF APPEAL FROM DECISIONS RENDERED BY THE FEDERAL COURT - TRIAL DIVISION TO ENSURE THAT UNCERTAINTIES IN THIS IMPORTANT FIELD OF OUR LAW, WHICH COULD RESULT FROM CONTRADICTORY FIRST INSTANCE JUDGMENTS, BE CLARIFIED BY APPELLATE COURTS.

THEREFORE, WE WOULD RECOMMEND TO THE COMMITTEE THE FOLLOWING CHANGES TO SECTION 17, NAMELY:


* * *

SECTION 18, DEALING WITH THE ANNULMENT OF CITIZENSHIP, IS ALSO PROBLEMATIC.

AS MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ARE AWARE, A NOTICE OF INTENT TO SEEK A REVOCATION ORDER UNDER SECTIONS 16 AND 17 AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS SUSPECTED OF HAVING OBTAINED CITIZENSHIP "BY FALSE REPRESENTATION OR FRAUD OR KNOWINGLY CONCEALING MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCES" ENTITLES THE ACCUSED TO A HEARING BEFORE THE FEDERAL COURT - TRIAL DIVISION.

AN ANNULMENT ORDER UNDER SECTION 18 AGAINST SOMEONE WHO IS SUSPECTED OF HAVING OBTAINED CITIZENSHIP IN "CONTRAVENTION OF SECTION 28 OR BY USING A FALSE IDENTITY" SHOULD ALSO ENTITLE AN ACCUSED TO AN IMPARTIAL HEARING BEFORE THE FEDERAL COURT - TRIAL DIVISION.

INDEED, A NATURALIZED CANADIAN WHO HAS LIVED IN CANADA FOR ALMOST FIVE (5) YEARS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO "MAKE REPRESENTATIONS TO THE MINISTER", WHO IS ALREADY "SATISFIED" THAT THE PERSON OBTAINED CITIZENSHIP IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE CITIZENSHIP OF CANADA ACT, AS TO WHY HIS/HER CITIZENSHIP SHOULD NOT BE REVOKED AFTER ALL.

FURTHERMORE, AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THE LAW SHOULD NOT FORCE THE MINISTER TO BE A JUDGE AND A PARTY IN THE SAME CASE.

WE NOTICED THAT, CONTRARILY TO BILL C-63, SUBSECTION 18(4) OF BILL C-16 GIVES AN INDIVIDUAL A RIGHT TO APPLY FOR A JUDICIAL REVIEW FROM THE MINISTER'S ORDER UNDER THE FEDERAL COURT ACT.

WE RECOMMEND INSTEAD THAT SECTION 18 PROVIDE A REFERRAL BY THE MINISTER TO THE FEDERAL COURT - TRIAL DIVISION, SIMILAR TO THAT STIPULATED IN SUBSECTION 17(1).

IN ADDITION, SECTION 18 SHOULD PROVIDE A RIGHT OF APPEAL TO THE FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL AND, WITH LEAVE, TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA.

IT SHOULD ALSO STIPULATE THAT A HIGH STANDARD OF PROOF APPLIES IN ANNULMENT OF CITIZENSHIP PROCEEDINGS, NAMELY PROOF "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT".


* * *

MR. CHAIRMAN, THE UCC WOULD ALSO ADVANCE FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, AMENDMENTS TO SUBSECTIONS 22(3) AND 27(3) TO ENSURE THAT A PERMANENT CANADIAN RESIDENT, WHO HAS LIVED IN CANADA FOR "AT LEAST 1,095 DAYS", SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO SUBMIT FOR REVIEW BY OUR COURTS, INCLUDING APPEAL COURTS, AN ORDER OR DECLARATION OF THE GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL PROHIBITING SUCH PERSON TO OBTAIN CITIZENSHIP.


* * *

FINALLY, MR. CHAIRMAN, SUBSECTION 44(1) IS TROUBLESOME SINCE IT AUTHORIZES THE MINISTER TO DELEGATE "ANYTHING...THAT MAY BE DONE BY THE MINISTER UNDER THIS ACT" TO "ANY PERSON".

WE BELIEVE THAT SUCH A BROAD RIGHT OF DELEGATION BY THE MINISTER SHOULD NOT APPLY TO THE PROCESS OF REVOCATION OR ANNULMENT OF CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP IN VIEW OF THE VERY SERIOUS AND DISTURBING CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH ACTIONS ON THE LIVES OF CANADIAN CITIZENS.


* * *

CITIZENSHIP IS ONE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL TENANTS OF ANY NATION.

THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY, CANADA HAS OPENED ITS DOORS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD WHO WERE LOOKING FOR A TOLERANT AND FREE SOCIETY, BASED ON DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES.

AS A RESULT, CANADA STANDS PROUDLY ON THE WORLD STAGE AS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE, WORK AND RAISE A FAMILY.

THEREFORE, WE MUST ENSURE THAT LEGISLATION DEALING WITH CITIZENSHIP, AND ESPECIALLY PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE PROVISIONS ADVANCED BY GOVERNMENT CONCERNING THE REVOCATION OR ANNULMENT OF THIS RIGHT AND RESPONSIBILITY, ALSO REFLECT THE CORE FABRIC OF OUR DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM.

THE PROPOSALS WE HAVE BROUGHT FORWARD TODAY ATTEMPT TO STRENGTHEN THE LEGISLATION, ENHANCE THE VALUE OF CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP AND ENSURE THAT THE CORE VALUES OF OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE UTILIZED TO GUARANTEE FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE FOR ALL CANADIANS.


* * *

MONSIEUR LE PRÉSIDENT, LORS DU DÉPÔT DU PROJET DE LOI C-16, LA MINISTRE DE LA CITOYENNETÉ ET DE L'IMMIGRATION A ANNONCÉ QUE:

«La citoyenneté est au coeur de notre identité à titre de Canadiens. C'est par notre citoyenneté, entre autres, que nous nous définissons comme individus.»

LES RECOMMANDATIONS DU CONGRÈS DES UKRAINIENS CANADIENS CONCORDENT AVEC CES PROPOS DE LA MINISTRE. EN EFFET, NOUS RECOMMANDONS QUE LE PROCESSUS DE RÉVOCATION ET D'ANNULATION DE LA CITOYENNETÉ CANADIENNE SOIT UN PROCESSUS JUDICIAIRE ÉQUITABLE, COMPORTANT UN DROIT D'APPEL DE PLEIN DROIT ET PRÉVOYANT UN FARDEAU DE PREUVE ÉLEVÉ LORSZU'UN GOUVERNEMENT DÉSIRE RÉVOQUER OU ANNULER DES DROITS FONDAMENTAUX DES CITOYENS CANADIENS.

NOUS VALORISONS AINSI LA CITOYENNETÉ CANADIENNE EN NOUS ASSURANT QUE NOS PRINCIPES DE JUSTICE NATURELLE, D'ÉQUITÉ ET DU RESPECT DES DROITS DES INDIVIDUS NE SOIENT PAS SACRIFIÉS AU NOM DE LA SIMPLICITÉ ET DE LA RAPIDITÉ DU PROCESSUS ENVISAGÉ.


* * *

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO ANSWERING ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE.

Ottawa, September 26, 2000



September 26, 2000

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Lydia Shawarsky
Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Congress
(204) 942-4627
http://www.ucc.ca/


 

©2000 Ukrainian Canadian Congress
456 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 1B6
Tel: (204) 942-4627 Fax: (204) 947-3882
UCC E-mail: ucchq@istar.ca
WebMaster E-mail: www@ucc.ca

26 September 2000