Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration hearings
on Bill C-18,the proposed Citizenship of Canada Act
The Chair (Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)): Good morning, colleagues. We're resuming our look at Bill C-18, an act respecting Canadian citizenship.
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Mr. Jonas Ma: Thank you. I guess I'll try to be as brief and accurate to the document as I can be.
Once again I wish to apologize for not having the French version of the submission, but I will be pleased to answer your questions in French.
First of all, I would like to thank the committee for inviting the Ottawa chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council to appear before you today.
As you are aware, the Chinese Canadian National Council was founded in 1980, and its mandate is to promote equality and the full participation of Chinese Canadians.
We are quite pleased with some of the changes that were introduced by Bill C-18, in the sense that it mentions in clause 16 that all citizens should be guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, and also under clause 12 that there will be equality among all Canadians regardless of where they are born. So those two are very welcome changes from previous versions of the act.
However, these two elements seem to be contradicted by other clauses in the bill, which I will highlight. Those clauses somehow contradict the Charter of Rights, as well as create a sense of two classes of citizenship.
Many of you are aware that our community fought to obtain citizenship for many years. Even though many generations of Chinese Canadians were born here before 1947, they were denied citizenship. It was only after they participated in the Second World War that they sought citizenship and received it. It's something we treasure greatly. It was a huge battle for our previous generations to gain that.
We also put it into the context of many experiences of other communities, such as the Japanese Canadian community, the Italian Canadian community, and the Ukraine Canadian community, who suffered some inequality during times of conflict and turmoil. They were singled out as different from other Canadians. So I would like to put it in that context when I speak of the following clauses that we have some concern about.
Clause 18 requires citizens to be treated differently for the first five years after they have obtained citizenship. That means the minister has the right to revoke citizenship if it is deemed to have been acquired under prohibited grounds or false identity. We see some merit in that, but at the same time we feel that during the process of applying for citizenship we can properly address these issues. We can properly conduct the security check to make sure applicants are not acquiring citizenship under prohibited grounds or under false identity. That's something that can be handled within the application process, so we do not see the need for clause 18 to create probationary citizens during the first five years of citizenship. So that's one point we find quite contradictory to the concept of equality under clause 12 and clause 16.
We also have huge difficulty with clause 17, where it talks about revoking citizenship. It states that the Federal Court can revoke citizenship without disclosure of the evidence against the person and without their presence if it is injurious to national security or to the safety of any person.
We're quite concerned about this clause, because it means that people who acquire citizenship as first-generation Canadians will not have due process or fair hearing. That's second-class treatment of citizens who are first-generation Canadians.
We also have a lot of difficulty with clause 14, which deals with the children of first-generation citizens who live outside the country. We know for a fact that many Canadians who have been here for generations, for example in eastern Canada, have to move to the States for jobs. If their children are born in the States, they will never lose their right of citizenship. Why would first-generation Canadians who do similar things be treated differently? We find that again creates a sense of two classes of citizens.
The requirement of physical residence in Canada is imposed now under clause 7. We have difficulty with that because many members of our community have to travel for work, for business, in order to support their families here. It does not take into account the changing global economy that requires people to travel in order to be globally competitive. It's not for lack of attachment or lack of a sense of belonging to Canada; it's just the economic reality.
We see that particularly in some regions of the country where the economy is not doing as well. They may find more opportunity in Asia and may have to travel there quite frequently. So we have some concern about that particular provision. We would like the clause amended to say "accumulate at least three years of residence in Canada" without defining it to be physical residence.
So those are my key comments. I would be very pleased to answer your questions in both official languages. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Jonas. Again you give us very valuable insight and information. We appreciate it very much. Lorne.
Mr. Lorne Waldman (Lawyer, As Individual): I'd like to thank you for letting me appear.
I have to admit that my desire to appear was provoked by clause 17. I wrote a brief, which covers other clauses, and perhaps I'll touch on them briefly in my comments.
As an opening comment, I just want to say that the major concern I have about the legislation in general is what I see as a significant erosion in the rights of certain categories of citizens. We're going to create in Canada two classes of citizens: those who acquire citizenship by birth, either because they are born in Canada or they are born of Canadian parents, in which case they are immune from the revocation proceedings, and those who are naturalized. I think this is not consistent with the overall stated purpose of the new legislation, which is to promote and encourage citizenship. I think it sends out a really erroneous message.
I think that some of the procedures included in this legislation will certainly be challenged under the charter.
Perhaps by way of introduction I can try in one or two minutes to explain the overall context.
I've done a lot of charter litigation in the immigration area, and the use of security certificates has been hotly disputed. The whole idea of a security certificate is one that I think is contrary to the fundamental principles of due process. One thing I want to emphasize is that the only situation in which security certificates have been upheld by the courts is in the case of non-permanent residents; in other words, people who are either visitors or refugees.
The Federal Court in the Ahani case--the name of the case doesn't matter--upheld it. This was decided because of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Chiarelli case. The Supreme Court basically said that until you're a citizen, you can be deported at the will of the government as long as you're given due process, and the context of due process will vary depending on the circumstances. The key point about the Chiarelli decision was that it distinguished between citizens and non-citizens.
What this legislation is now trying to do is distinguish between citizens who acquire citizenship by birth, who would never be subjected to these types of processes, and citizens who acquire their citizenship as a result of naturalization, who can be subjected to these security certificate processes. I firmly believe that because the Supreme Court made the distinction between citizens and non-citizens as the foundation for their conclusion that certain procedures were acceptable under the charter as applied to non-citizens, the same argument will not be available in the case of citizens.
To give you some understanding of why I'm so concerned and why I came, let me just say that I felt it was really important that the committee understand what it's like trying to defend someone who has been made the subject of a security certificate. As not very many of them are issued and most of them tend to gravitate to a few lawyers, I think I'm one of the few lawyers who has a considerable amount of experience in this area.
Clause 17, the revocation provision, requires that the two ministers sign a certificate. It's then forwarded to a Federal Court judge, together with the secret information. The Federal Court judge reviews the information, and he has only one decision to make here. He decides whether or not this information should be disclosed and whether or not disclosure would be prejudicial to our national security interests, the protection of confidential sources, etc.
Once he decides that the evidence should not be disclosed, his hands are virtually tied. All he can do is provide a summary. My experience suggests that more often than not the summaries have been prepared by CSIS officers; at least that's what we have been led to believe. The summary cannot disclose any information that would be prejudicial to national security. Of course, CSIS is the overall decision-maker as to what gets disclosed and what doesn't.
Let me give you the example of a case I'm working on right now, protecting the anonymity of the client. The allegation is that he's a member of a terrorist organization. CSIS says that he is so-and-so, who is a member of this organization. He claims that he's not.
So what does the summary say? It says that CSIS has reason to believe, from confidential sources, that he is so-and-so and he is a member of the organization. That's it. All of the rest of the information provided by CSIS is about the organization. We don't know where they got the information from, what their sources are. We don't know if it's confidential informants in Canada, confidential informants outside. We don't know how reliable the informants are. We have no way of challenging the information.
So we end up in cases like this going through a charade where we ask the client, well, can you think of anyone in Canada who might have it in for you and who might be giving information to CSIS that you are so-and-so? He says, "Well, I had a fight with this guy last month and we had a dispute over money, and because there are informants perhaps he's the informant", and so on. "Well, do you think they might have gotten information from the security services in your country?" "Well, they could have."
So then what you do is you call a witness. And he says that if so-and-so is the informant--and of course we never know if he is--then they had a fight last month, so you shouldn't put any reliance on the evidence that so-and-so gave you. Then if you want to track the credibility of the CSIS evidence from the security service abroad, you bring in an expert, and he says you can't rely on confidential information because it's not...all the things.
At the end of the day, you engage in the most unsatisfactory form of shadow-boxing that you can possibly ever imagine. At the end of the day, because of all the security certificates that have been issued so far, only two have been quashed -- unfortunately, neither of them were mine, so the ones I've been involved in I've lost -- you come away feeling that you don't know what the evidence is. My client claims he isn't who they say he is. How can I defend this person? Did I do everything I could?
The whole concept of a hearing is someone accuses you. You have an opportunity of confronting that person and asking, "Where did you get that information? Are you a reliable witness? What interest do you have that might be there to discredit the person?" When you use a security certificate all of that is gone, and you're really left relying on one organization, CSIS.
It's such an insidious process that I hope I can convince you that you should give serious second thought to endorsing it.
The other important point to note is that there is an alternative. Up until the previous immigrant act, IRPA, a different process was available to non-citizens. That was the one that had been upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal in the Ahani case, where they used the security certificates, and in the process used in the case of permanent residents. In those cases there was a hearing before the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
What happens in those circumstances is the committee receives the confidential information. The committee has a lawyer who is its counsel. And I've been involved in those types of hearings. You're excluded from part of the process, but there's a lawyer who is counsel to the committee whose function is to make sure that the person who's providing the evidence....
The committee hears the witnesses. So informant A comes in. I never see informant A. I may not even get a summary of what information A says, but there's a lawyer who is counsel to the committee who has met with me and who knows my client's position, who cross-examines informant A.
That process, in my view, strikes a satisfactory balance between protecting national security and protecting the rights of the individual. When IRPA was debated I didn't hear any explanation as to why they did away with the permanent residents. We'll challenge that. Based on the Chiarelli decision, we may well lose, but I think when you try to apply the same types of processes to citizens, it's going to be a far different story, or at least I hope it will.
I will give you one other example of how the balance in other situations has been struck differently than it has been in the security certificates as they will now apply to citizens.
When the anti-terrorism legislation was before the House there were provisions in there that allowed for the same type of use of confidential information, but there was a fundamental difference in those cases. The Federal Court judge received the confidential information and he had to do what's called the balancing of two competing interests. One is the interest of the person for a fair trial. The other is viewed not as a personal interest but a societal interest: the person has a right to a fair trial, and society has a right to ensure the person gets a fair trial. That's one interest, as opposed to the interest of the state in suppressing the evidence.
So the judge has to balance these two interests. That's how it was done in the anti-terrorism legislation. There's no balancing here. Once the information is confidential, it's suppressed.
I can tell you, where these provisions are implemented and security certificates are filed the odds are so stacked against the individual that it's unbelievable. Try to imagine defending someone in the context of a case where you have no clue as to what the charges are. That's what security certificates are about. That's why I came here, because I think until you actually have experienced what it's like, you have no idea.
When I talk to lawyers who have never experienced them and tell them what we go through, they're shocked. Criminal lawyers would say they could never do this in a criminal context, and of course they couldn't. They didn't even try because the Evidence Act provisions are more balanced.
I haven't heard any reason or any rational explanation put forward by the government as to why, instead of using the clause 17 security provisions, the government doesn't use the SIRC. There are other provisions in this bill where SIRC is used for a hearing. In other words, it's interesting that in the case of a person who is going to be denied citizenship based on national security, that person gets a SIRC hearing under clause 23.
Listen to how strange our priorities are. In the case of a person who applies for citizenship and the government wants to deny citizenship to that person based on national security, the matter is referred to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, who have the hearing that I just described. In my view, this is a fair process, a fair balance. So persons who apply for citizenship get a SIRC hearing before they're denied their citizenship. Persons who already have their citizenship from whom the government wants to revoke it don't get that. They get the security certificate, which is as far removed from due process as anything I could possibly ever imagine.
So what I would urge the committee to consider is an amendment that would amend clause 17 to provide that the review not be done by the Federal Court judge through a certificate but be similar to the process contained in clause 23. Now, I didn't draft an amendment because it would be rather complicated to do it. But if the committee is interested I'd be more than glad to help them with it, if they want me to.
I'm just going to make a few other brief comments on some of the other clauses, but that was the main message I came to give.
On clause 7, eligibility for citizenship, I have just one point. I'm not going to enter into all the debate. Other people have spoken about other concerns. There's one tiny little point I don't know if anyone else has made. It has to do with persons who have been granted refugee protection in Canada.
Many of these people don't have other citizenship, or if they have other citizenship, they can't get access to passports. So although they can apply for and sometimes obtain refugee travel documents, it's very difficult to go anywhere on a refugee travel document these days, especially in the post-9/11 era.
This is a serious handicap. It creates all sorts of hardships for people who are trying to re-establish their lives after having been forced to flee, hardships for people who need mobility to go to the United States for jobs, etc., or to travel to visit loved ones.
What I would propose is that the committee consider adding to subparagraph 7(1)(b)(i) a clause that just basically recognizes, in the very special case of persons who have been granted refugee protection, that the counting of the days shouldn't be the same as it is for others--in other words, half a day for every day prior to permanent residence and then one day for every day after. Why not give persons who have been granted refugee protection credit for a full day for every day after they are granted refugee protection?
I don't see any reason why it couldn't be done. It would allow those people who need our protection, who have been granted our protection, who need the protection of citizenship, to get it more quickly. I can't see any reason why the government would oppose that amendment. It would alleviate a lot of hardship.
As for the other points I noted, I agree with what Jonas said on clause 14. It causes me a lot of concern. But I won't repeat what he said there. I'm concerned that what might happen is people might assume they're Canadian citizens, not even be aware that they're going to lose their citizenship, and not have citizenship elsewhere.
I think the committee ought to at least put in a clause saying that this can only apply to persons who have their citizenship. You don't want to revoke Canadian citizenship from someone and leave the person stateless, because Canada has signed the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and we're committed to not creating stateless people. So even if someone has never been to Canada, and the only passport they have is a Canadian passport, it shouldn't be revoked unless they have some other option. So I think the committee should at least consider exempting stateless people from this provision.
Under clause 16, dealing with misrepresentation, they could lose not only their citizenship, but also their permanent resident status. I noted that the Canadian Bar Association brief commented on the inequity that a permanent resident gets a right to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division, but a citizen doesn't. It doesn't make any sense that there should be this inequity. I hope the committee would consider alleviating this.
I echo the concerns Jonas has about clause 18. This is another clause that really, really makes me very nervous. I actually hadn't thought of it in the way Jonas had pointed out. As a result of what Jonas said, I think there are now three categories of Canadian citizens once this law is passed: persons born here or who can have citizenship by birth; naturalized Canadians who are in Canada less than five years, and who can be subject to revocation without a hearing; and naturalized Canadians who are in Canada for more than five years, who are immune from that process, but can still be subject to the security process.
Do we want to send out a message...? When the government said it was amending the Citizenship Act, I thought it was going to strengthen it. But what I think the government is doing is diluting the meaning of citizenship for people who obtained citizenship by naturalization. In their zeal to prevent abuse, they've created processes that go far beyond what is necessary.
I think any procedure in clause 18 allowing for revocation without a hearing would be struck down under the charter. I can't imagine that something as important as the right to citizenship can be taken away without a hearing.
The other thing of concern is that clause 18, as currently drafted, doesn't even take into account the possibility that someone made an innocent mistake. In other words, let's connect clause 18 and clause 28. Let's say I applied for citizenship and got it, and at the time I applied for citizenship I wasn't aware there were charges pending against me in my country. I'm a refugee who left my country, and the charges are all politically motivated. After I get my citizenship, the Government of Canada finds out there is a pending charge.
Clause 18 doesn't even allow for the concept of mens rea. In other words, it should at least say "If the minister is satisfied that the person has not knowingly, after the coming into force of this section, acquired citizenship...". We should at least give the person the out of showing that it was an innocent mistake, and that there was no mens rea. If you're going to take away someone's citizenship, it should at least be based upon an intent to misrepresent.
The other thing about clause18 is that it doesn't allow for a hearing. How can we contemplate taking away something as important as a person's citizenship based upon a written submission without any due process, and without a requirement for mens rea?
I didn't put into my brief the whole idea of including a requirement for mens rea, or for having an intent. But I think it's important that the committee consider adding in clause 18 the word "knowingly", so that a person who makes an innocent mistake is exempted.
Clause 21 deals with demonstrating a flagrant disregard for democratic principles. We all know why the government introduced this clause; there has been one case that has been dragging through the courts for years, which I won't mention.
The Chair: Go ahead and tell us why. We're still trying to figure it out.
Mr. Lorne Waldman: I think it's in response to the Zundel case, which has been driving the government crazy for years. I was told it's in direct response to their frustration over that particular case. But that's just what I was told; I may or may not be correct on that.
I have a whole malaise about the clause in general, but I didn't really address that. If the government believes it needs this power, I suppose I'm not going to be the one to say that it shouldn't have it. I just can't accept the fact that it should not be subject to any judicial review. I don't believe it's necessary, and I leave it in the hands of the committee to determine whether it is or isn't necessary. What you have to understand is the way it is currently drafted, after the minister makes a recommendation and the Governor in Council makes a decision, there's no appeal.
Normally a decision like that would be subject to judicial review in the Federal Court. What you have to understand is judicial review isn't even an appeal. When you get judicial review, the court will be very deferential to the minister and the Governor in Council. I go to the Federal Court all the time -- I'm going tomorrow -- and anytime you get a discretionary decision like this, they're going to be very deferential, and they're only going to overturn the decision if either the process that was involved was really unfair, and we can show that, or if the decision that was made was so unreasonable that there is no evidentiary foundation for it.
So by allowing an appeal, what you're doing is ensuring that there is some scrutiny of this very broad power that the court has to deny citizenship for five years. If the clause is going to go through, I cannot understand and I cannot think of any argument the government could make that would justify denying access to the courts, given the very broad powers the clause contains.
The final point is the same one that Jonas made, having to do with prohibitions about citizenship. I want to point out I'm not going through everything, just the ones that are of most concern to me. Again, it goes back to what I mentioned earlier: there has to be some recognition in there that people in certain circumstances may be innocent victims of trumped-up charges that are laid, especially for political reasons.
We can take, for example, the case of a person who fled to Canada and obtained refugee status here. I'll just give you an example of how this clause could be applied in the case of a client I have, who will obviously remain anonymous. I'll just relate the facts. He fled his country using a false passport, came to Canada and was granted refugee protection here. Under our Immigration Act, he can't be charged with an offence of using a false passport to get into Canada, but he was charged, and tried and convicted in absentia in his country and sentenced to three years.
If you don't make an exception, a person who used a false passport to leave his country as a way of escaping and was accepted here as a refugee after the fact, if the country then decides to take reprisals against the person by prosecuting him or her, that person will be denied the right of citizenship during the whole charge process, the trial process, and until the sentence is finished. So what that does is it gives the countries of persecution a lot of power to continue to punish people after they leave by initiating prosecutions, by dragging out trials for years and years.
I have some clients who were charged in some countries, and the trial process in some countries takes 10, 12, 15 years. So what are we going to do? And then at the end they may be innocent. Even if they're not innocent, the charges may be totally politically motivated. We know there are a lot of governments that use prosecutions as a means of persecuting people. I won't name the countries, as I don't think it's appropriate for me to do so, but we all know them. So a client comes here, he's granted refugee status based on his being a victim of a trumped-up charge in his country, and they drag the charge out for ten years and he can't become a citizen during the whole process. The act is too black and white. There has to be some contemplation of some exceptions.
Anyway, I've spoken for more than I was allotted, but thank you for the time.
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Mrs. Lynne Yelich: Yes, what are the circumstances that cause an individual to have a certificate filed?
Mr. Lorne Waldman: It's hard for me to answer that question -- sorry, I have a bit of a cold -- totally because I represent the clients once the certificates are filed. So I don't really understand why in some cases they choose to file them and in some cases they don't. They're generally filed in cases involving persons who are alleged to be members of terrorist groups, or alleged to have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity, or members of organized crime, things like that. So they're filed in the cases involving the most serious grounds for deportation of individuals.
Generally speaking, I think the reason why the government feels they need the power is because they've received evidence in confidence from different sources and they have to protect the confidentiality of those sources. So the security certificates were introduced in one of the major changes to the last legislation, I think in 1989, and it was thought to be a balance between protecting the national security interest and protecting the individual. At the time, the government distinguished between non-permanent residents and permanent residents. They only used the security certificates for non-permanent residents. Last year, when the IRPA was passed, the certificates were introduced for permanent residents as well. Now we're seeing it extended to citizens.
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Judicial review is a fundamental principle of a democratic system, because given the balance of powers, courts necessarily must be able to scrutinize the power of the executive. If you want to talk about the battle of the history of our jurisprudence and the history of administrative law for the last 120 years, it has been the battle between the executive and the courts.
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Mr. Lorne Waldman: I can tell you, it's difficult to predict in the post-September 11 era what will be the degree of tolerance of our courts, the Federal Court, ultimately the Supreme Court, and how deferential they will be on issues of national security.
In my view, clause 17 is suspect. I try to explain that I think the whole foundation for the security certificate has always been the decision of the Supreme Court in Chiarelli, which made a distinction between citizens and non-citizens. What the government is now doing is making a distinction between citizens by birth and naturalized citizens. There's nothing I see in Chiarelli that would allow for that.
I believe that if the process of a security certificate were subjected or used in a criminal court, it would be struck down. That's why the government didn't go that far in the anti-terrorism bill, and they provided for this balancing of the right to a fair hearing with the right to protect national security. So I think there are very strong charter arguments against clause 17 for that precise reason.
As to what the courts will ultimately do, I can assure you that if I am involved in such a case, I will raise all those arguments very aggressively. I think it's a very strong position. I don't feel the same way, for example, with respect to applying security certificates to permanent residents. That hasn't been approved by the courts, but I think there's a fair likelihood that the courts would accept that. But when you try to take that process and apply it to citizens, given how fundamentally unfair it is, I think there's a good chance the courts will strike it down.
I feel the same way about clause 18. The total absence of any right to a hearing and in clause 18 as it now stands the absence of any mens rea are serious flaws. I don't think the courts would sanction the removal of the right to citizenship, once you have acquired citizenship, without at least there being mens rea, an intent to misrepresent, and also without there being some due process where those issues can be addressed.
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Mr. Lorne Waldman: You asked me two questions. The first question is about the warning. My recollection from recently looking at a citizenship application makes it clear that there is a warning and people are advised. The issue I'm concerned about is what is the process whereby the government determines whether or not a person misrepresented?
I think, first of all, there has to be an intent. It's possible that the courts may well read into the section an intent and say if there's evidence the person didn't intend to, they can't revoke the citizenship. But I think it would be a lot better if the committee were to include that word in the section, as I suggested.
So the issue is finding the proper balance between administrative efficiency so that the people who abuse the system can be dealt with appropriately, but making sure that there's proper due process. I think there are ways of striking a balance that don't go as far as....
Obviously, the bureaucrats, who are the ones who crafted this, love to have acts that are really easy to administer. There's absolutely no question that clause 18 is really easy to administer. They send you a notice, you get 30 days, and that's it--no hearing, no nothing.
I guess my question is, is that really an acceptable balance? I would suggest, and I hadn't thought about it until you posed the question, but the more I think about it.... The immigration division or the appeal division of the Immigration and Refugee Board are two tribunals that already exist, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel, and they routinely deal with exactly the same issues that are being dealt with here. In other words, they deal with misrepresentations.
I don't see why it would be difficult to refer those cases that are covered by clause 18 to the immigration division or one of the divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board. You get a simpler bureaucratic process that isn't as costly as the Federal Court process, but you have a little bit more due process.
On the last point I was asked about, paragraph 28(c) says "the person is charged with, on trial for, or subject to or a party to an appeal...relating to an offence outside Canada...". So once the government charges you in country A with an offence, you can't get your citizenship until country A deals with the charges. There's no exception for refugees that says wait a second; these are political.
You can have a situation where the refugee comes in, he's accepted, based upon these charges, because they're phony, trumped-up charges, and you get a decision from the refugee board saying these are phony, trumped-up charges that are politically motivated because this person is a political dissident in his country. Yet when he applies for citizenship and the charges are still sitting there, outstanding, he can't get it, because there's nothing in this section that allows the government to make an exception.
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The Chair: Thank you.
Again, on behalf of the committee, let me thank both you, Jonas, and Lorne. They were exceptional presentations and provided some good food for thought. You presented some great ideas.
Lorne, I'll take you up on your offer to write those amendments. I think they'd find them intriguing, whether it's the SIRC one or the one with regard to the mens rea. I welcome those.
Jonas, I don't think I could have said it better, you're right. Not only the immigration bill, but the spirit and essence of immigration, and now the spirit of citizenship, is a positive. It's about Canada and it's about our values, and we ought not to cloud this and put everything through the prism of what the world went through on September 11. And unfortunately more and more we see that the focus is always on the negative or the security aspects, as opposed to talking about the value of citizenship.
I can guarantee that one thing this committee is going to do is that we're not going to create two classes of citizens, or even three for that matter. At the end of the day, by birth or by choice, you are a citizen, and it doesn't matter how you got that citizenship, the system ought to be fair and equal for both sides. Because the moment.... The Americans pointed that out to us -- and I think a saving grace is that they did it even though it's repulsive to us -- when they started to choose who in fact they would stop at our border with the Canadian passport, which has one colour. All of a sudden they started to look at birth, and choice, and started to make the difference themselves as to who really is a good Canadian citizen.
At the end of the day, it should not be for them or anybody else to say who's a good Canadian citizen or who's a bad Canadian citizen based on where you were born or where in fact you came from. And therefore at the end of the day I can promise you that in this citizenship bill, which is now five years in the making -- three times we've tried this -- not only do we want due process, because that's what we all stand for in Canada, due process and Canadian values, but at the end of the day we're going to make sure that there is only one class of citizen, and it's called "Canadian citizen". And it doesn't matter how you get it or got it, it's of value. More and more people like yourselves are talking about how much that is of value to them, and we're not about to just let it go by the wayside and be able to get rid of it or whatever.
So again, thank you so much for your passion.
We will now adjourn till Thursday, when we have the minister and we'll be able to pose all these tough questions to him again.