Ukrainian Canadian Congress
Position Paper: March 30th 2000
Bill C-16, Citizenship of Canada Act
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (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, the UCC has been able to ensure that the voice of the Ukrainian Canadian 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 (the predecessor of Bill C-16), 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 views of the Ukrainian Canadian community concerning Bill C-16 to members of Parliament and to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
One of the primary concerns the UCC had with Bill C-63 was found in Subsection 16(4), which would have introduced the concept of guilt by association.
The UCC was opposed to this concept and is pleased to see that this subsection was removed in Bill C-16.
Another provision of concern to the UCC is Section 17.
The revocation of citizenship and deportation are very serious issues which have a tremendous impact on an individual and his 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 Bill C-16, 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 its employees had already destroyed immigration files consistent with the governmentís 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 law, which result from contradictory first instance judgments, could be clarified by appellate courts.
Therefore, the UCC recommends the following changes to Section 17, namely:
Section 18 is also problematic.
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 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.
The UCC 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 Ministerís order under the Federal Court Act.
The UCC recommends 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".
Subsections 22(3) and 27(3)
The UCC also suggests 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 Canadian courts, including appeal courts, an order or declaration of the Governor in Council prohibiting such person to obtain citizenship.
Paragraph 6(1) d)
The UCC is pleased that Bill C-16 does not contain the requirement found in Paragraph 6(1) d) of Bill C-63 whereby an applicant had to communicate that he has an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship in one of the official languages of Canada without the assistance of an interpreter.
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, legislation dealing with citizenship, and especially proposed legislative provisions concerning the revocation or annulment of this right and responsibility, should also reflect the core fabric of our democratic system.
The proposals that the UCC is recommending attempt to strengthen the legislation, enhance the value of Canadian citizenship and ensure that the core values of our justice system are respected to guarantee fairness and justice for all Canadians.
March 30th, 2000FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
©2000 Ukrainian Canadian Congress
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3 May 2000