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.)): We have quorum, so let's resume where we left off.
We were going to ask some people to draft a new amendment G-1A. We were going to call it G-1C, but it's now a new G-1A. I wonder if I could ask Rosaline just to take us through it. I understand there's a difference of opinion between whether or not “speech” is the same as “expression”, so let's get into that little discussion.
Ms. Rosaline Frith (Director General, Integration, Department of Citizenship and Immigration): Yes, essentially the new words are drafted:
values essential to a free and democratic society, including respect for human dignity and freedom of expression, commitment to social justice and equality, accommodation of a wide variety of beliefs, respect for cultural and group identify, and faith in social and political institutions that enhance the participation of individuals and groups in society;
The change of words was to reflect what we were asked to do as best we could. We've retained “human dignity” and we have retained “freedom of expression”. “Freedom of expression” comes straight out of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and one of the fundamental freedoms in the charter is freedom of expression.
The Chair: Madeleine.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Chair, I would like to digress a little to announce that I have a young student with me today. He has just graduated from Cégep Lionel- Groulx and plans to go into political science. He chose to come to this committee because I convinced him it was the most serious and the nicest. I am therefore appealing to each of you not to make a liar out of me. Welcome, Patrick.
The Chair: I can guarantee you one thing: we will not disappoint him.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Thank you.
The Chair: You're never going to forget this experience.
Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): If I may, Mr. Chairman, notwithstanding what the official just said, the translation of “liberté d'expression” in French is “freedom of speech” in English. Freedom of speech has a particular connotation in English. It's exactly equivalent to liberté d'expression. Liberty of expression, on the other hand, has no roots that I know of in the same pejorative and, if you will, poetic sense that freedom of speech has. Freedom of speech is an expression that goes to the very heart of our democratic values.
I should say that when we talk about speech, we're talking about all forms of communication of thoughts and ideas -- prejudices, positive things, negative things -- so speech is not to be understood in this context in the sense of merely a physical capability.
I also point out, Mr. Chairman, that before we broke, before we recessed, all of us agreed that the inserted words in the English version would be “freedom of speech”. We agreed on that. I also sent a motion to the clerk -- isn't that correct, Mr. Clerk -- explaining that the words I wanted to insert were “freedom of speech”.
Whether or not that is the expression that is used in the charter, I point out that the officials have repeatedly, time after time, said that they did not want to derive from the actual text of the charter, they only wanted to derive from the court's interpretation of a just and fair society, which is in the preamble of the charter. I find it passing strange that suddenly the charter should be cited as a justification for turning the intent of my motion on its head.
I would implore this committee to respect what it agreed upon, respect the intent of my motion, which I gave to the clerk, and which seems to be translated in a different way, and change “freedom of expression” in the English version to “freedom of speech”. In the French version, they might consider feminizing the word essentiels, which is masculine right now. No?
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: No, because the adjective applies to both “principes“ and “valeurs“. Since “essentiels“ applies to two nouns, and one of them is masculine, the adjective has to be masculine.
Mr. John Bryden: Well then, Mr. Chairman, on that note I would suggest that we should go with what Madeleine feels very strongly about if we go with what I feel equally strongly about—even more strongly about. “Freedom of speech” are the words I'd like to see here. We need an amendment—I don't know why we need an amendment, because I had a motion before the floor, which says precisely this.
The Chair: Let me deal with this. First of all, I need to get a clarification from the administration, because I do have something that was tabled by Mr. Bryden before the new G-1A was tabled before me. His amendment would have said “be amended by inserting the words “freedom of speech” after the words “including respect”, as well as moving the word in the second line.... Anyway, his did come first.
I just want to ask, Rosaline, I think it was at least in the mind of the committee that we were talking about freedom of speech. Could you tell us why the change between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” between when we left to when we came back?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Essentially we went back to try to draft according to what would be an accepted expression in Canada. The charter says “freedom of expression”. That's a Canadian way of writing it. It doesn't matter, sir, with all due respect. If you prefer to say “freedom of speech”, then we're prepared to change it. The reason we drafted it that way is because that is the normal Canadian way of expressing it.
The Chair: That's helpful.
Just hang on, John. Just sit still while you have a win so far, but hang on a second.
Ms. Raymonde Folco (Laval West, Lib.): Well, no, I take it back, because Madeleine has made a comment, which I agree with.
The Chair: Andrew.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo): Mr. Chair, you know when I tried to talk about this issue before and got rudely interrupted on it, the point I was going to make before is that this is drawn from the Charter of Rights, from “fundamental freedoms”.
Quite frankly, I have trouble understanding the difference between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression”. I would suggest to you that “freedom of expression” is on the one hand broader. Also it's more inclusive. It's just like when we all used to send out press releases, and then we soon learned that it should be a media release.
I can tell you that for a person who is dumb, who cannot speak, it's “freedom of expression”. As the chairman amply demonstrated before, he could use sign language to make his point. That's how some people do have to deal with sign language.
I don't understand how “freedom of expression”, as expressed under “fundamental freedoms” in the charter, is somehow narrowing freedom of speech. Maybe the honourable member could enlighten me on that. May I say also that the pen is mightier than the sword, as a former journalist.
Mr. John Bryden: I'll just reiterate what I said earlier. Freedom of speech is a well understood expression in the English-speaking world. The word “speech” in this context is not intended, and never has been intended, to mean only the physical capability of forming words.
Speech in the context of “freedom of speech” is the ability to express all of one's ideas, ideas that may be unacceptable to other individuals. They may be ideas that are in fact prejudices. They may be ideas that are poetic. They may be ideas that are controversial. They may be ideas indeed that are against the interests of the state. The idea is that in a free and democratic society, to use the expression from the preamble of the Constitution, one ought to be able to have the ability to express one's thoughts in every way conceivable, not only in the written word, as my colleague just pointed out to me. It's not only in the written word. It's the expression in the artistic word.
If you're doing a painting, taking a photograph, doing a dance, all these things are methods of speech. What we prize in this society is the fact that we have the freedom to do all these things and ways to express ourselves intellectually in ways that may be controversial or that may be against what the state may approve or our neighbours approve.
So speech in this context is a far, far more sweeping thought than simply the word “expression”, because it has such a connotation in English and because it literally translates from the French. “Liberté d'expression” doesn't mean “liberty of expression” in English, it means “freedom of speech”.
The Chair: Massimo.
Mr. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Lib.): Maybe I can just clear this up, because I was sitting next to Andrew this morning.
The Chair: My sympathies.
Mr. Massimo Pacetti: John, what you're saying is common language, but Andrew has the charter of rights before him, which says “freedom of expression”. I think that's all he's trying to say.
The Chair: Listen, I'm going to try to be helpful here, because I heard Andrew say that “expression” also includes, and should include, “speech” and something else. I heard John say that “freedom of speech” also includes “expression”. So we're both saying the same thing -- though you're right that “freedom of speech” might be known to more people than “freedom of expression”.
Let me ask the question, to make it clear and unambiguous, what then would be wrong with saying in the purpose of the act, “speech and expression”?
An hon. member: Oh, no.
The Chair: Is there a problem with saying “speech and expression” to cover both? I just want to make sure that everybody understands that when we say “expression”, it means “speech”, and that when we say “speech”, it means “expression”.
An hon. member: Exactly.
The Chair: Jerry, and then Sarkis.
Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.): Mr. Chair, this could go on for hours. One direction to take might be to have a show of hands to see which wording is the most predominantly accepted by the group. We've all heard the arguments.
The Chair: No, we're just about getting to....
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: [Inaudible—Editor]
The Chair: No, no, you've had your chance, Andrew. You've already had your chance to tell us why you think “expression” is fine, and he's had his chance about whether...
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): I'd like to ask my colleague a question.
When you go to an art exhibit, you say that the person or the show had very good artistic expression. But then you talked about “speech” versus “expression”. How did you make your decision?
Mr. John Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I was an art critic for many years in one of my former lives. In my day, one of the issues shaking the art world was the portrayal of sexual activities. Right now we don't think of this as such an earth-shaking thing, but in the seventies it was very controversial to have artistic paintings or drawings, shows and openings, that explicitly showed the sexual act. There were various attempts to shut down this type of activity, with accusations of pornography, and that kind of thing. The argument for maintaining those shows and the reasons why those shows did carry on and we did not shut down those types of artistic expression, and why we made progress as a society, was the freedom-of-speech argument.
I'm afraid of repeating myself, but “freedom of speech” is a concept that is well understood in Canada; “freedom of expression” is not a Canadian expression. I think Canadians understand the meaning of “freedom of speech” far more than they understand “freedom of expression”.
The Chair: Finally, Andrew, for the three short words you said you would say.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Mr. Chairman, I also have a simple question.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: I didn't get my answer.
Mr. John Bryden: Oh, I'm sorry, didn't I answer?
The Chair: Go ahead, Andrew.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I have a simple question, if we could have this clarified.
During the vote, I chose to stay seated and abstain from voting. Was that a novel way of saying that I had “freedom of speech”, or would it be more real to say that I had “freedom of expression”?
Mr. John Bryden: That's “freedom of speech”, Andrew. That's what it is in a democracy.
The Chair: All right. We're all trying to get to the same thing.
For the record, though, because our proceedings have sometimes not gone unnoticed by the courts, let me ask the question.... I'm going to put two motions, as Jerry suggested, because I hear there is and may be a difference.
For the record, though, if we used the words “freedom of expression”, are you saying on behalf of the government that they also include “freedom of speech”, so that courts and judges for the next 25 years will hopefully say the same thing?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, that is correct.
The Chair: Now, if we were going to change it to “freedom of speech”, would you say for the record that it also includes “freedom of expression”?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I cannot answer that. I think the judge would then have to interpret whether or not they felt that it included all forms of expression.
The Chair: Okay, then on that basis I'm going to put Mr. Bryden's motion first, which was an amendment that said it be amended by inserting the words “freedom of speech and” after the words “including respect” in the second line of the text under (b), which replaces lines 10 and 11 on page 3. Depending on what happens with that, we may then go to new amendment G-1.
Is it clear to everyone?
Mr. John Bryden: You don't know what you just did.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: They used their freedom of speech.
The Chair: On new amendment G-1A, which includes the words “freedom of expression” -- but, John, by the way, also includes freedom of speech, as is on the record --
Mr. John Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I have to leave. That's more than I can stand.
The Chair: Okay, have a drink of water on us, John.
Sarkis, are you moving the new amendment G-1A?
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: That's correct. The government supports this motion as presented. As the government spokesperson said to the department, this is inclusive --
The Chair: Hang on, Sarkis. Before you move the new amendment G-1A, you're going to have to move that the old G-1A be withdrawn.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: I move that the previous G-1A be withdrawn for the purpose of accommodating the new amendment G-1A.
The Chair: Are there any objections to that? None?
The Chair: Okay, now you'll move new amendment G-1A.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: That's correct...as drafted, because we changed two things there. You know that.
(Amendment agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]
Mr. Jerry Pickard: We've expressed our views now?
The Chair: We've expressed our views in all forms. Those who waived, those who stormed out, and those who spoke.
Now I want to make sure we've covered all the things we wanted to do so far in clause 3.
Before I put the question on clause 3, are there any other points to be made on the preamble? Amendment L-2 essentially covered part of the preamble.
Just to be fair to our colleagues who are not here who wanted to talk about a preamble, which was amendment PC-1, which I think I indicated couldn't be moved as a preamble because there was no preamble before, before we call the question on clause 3, does anybody else want to have anything to do with any preamble in addition to what we've just done, or forever hold your peace?
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: You can perhaps answer my question. When clause 3 was discussed, there were lengthy exchanges of views on paragraph 3(e)? Has it been done away with? I would be very pleased to know.
The Chair: That's paragraph 3(e) in the bill. That was negatived. I'm sorry, that was dealt with and it was negatived. So it is as it reads, “to require strong attachment to Canada for the acquisition of citizenship”.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: What does the French read for that?
The Chair: It's in the bill.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: If I can speak on that for a second, we had a discussion last Thursday that had to do with the word subordonner in French. I understood that a motion I presented on Thursday wasn't voted on, so I just want to make sure that paragraph 3(e) in French has been changed so that the word subordonner no longer appears and is replaced by the word requérir. C'est ça. Requérir is what I suggested.
The Chair: But we don't have that amendment. I don't know in what context we were talking about it last Thursday.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: If I could answer on that, Mr. Chair, I don't know, but this is the second one today. I'm not blaming anyone here; I just want to understand the systematic words.
Last Thursday I presented an amendment to the amendment on the order of French and English in the French text, which we needed to vote on again this morning. I thought it had been voted on, on Thursday. It wasn't. We did it this morning. That's fine.
But I remember very clearly last Thursday also that Mr. Bachand had said the word subordonner was not acceptable in paragraph 3(e) in French. So I had spoken on that and suggested requérir, which had been generally accepted by this group.
The Chair: It might have been generally accepted, but it was not formally put. If you'd like to put it formally now, we will deal with it. That's why I didn't want to close it.
Can you tell us, then, what it will read?
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Mr. Chair, I'd like to present an amendment to the French text,
paragraph 3(e), page 3.
I'll read paragraph 3(e) in English: “to require a demonstration of attachment to Canada for the acquisition of citizenship”.
The French version would read as follows:
e) de requérir l’acquisition de la citoyenneté à un profond attachement au Canada;
The Chair: Okay, so it's just a change of the word subordonner to requérir.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Yes.
The Chair: So I will accept that as a technical but very good amendment. But before we do that, Rosaline is expressing herself.
Go ahead, Rosaline. Can I ask for your comments on that word?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I don't have a problem with the word requérir, but the rest of the phrase is not reading correctly now to match the English. It's no longer correct.
We need to drop the word profond, because in English we're talking about “a demonstration of attachment”, not a “strong” attachment. So we took out the word profond.
I would suggest that if you give us a few moments, we can reword the French of this one and come back with it.
The Chair: Madeleine.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: What I have here seems to me to be absolutely the same as what Raymonde was saying: “requérir la démonstration d'un attachement au Canada ”.
The Chair: Okay, take a moment to do that, and I'll allow you to put it. While we wait for that to happen, I'll just stand down clause 3 for a moment and we will move to clause 4, which, believe it or not, has absolutely no amendments whatsoever.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Somebody messed up.
(Clause 4 agreed to)
The Chair: I also have clause 5, but I have an amendment here, and Libby wants to be with us soon. So I'll hold that one.
(Clause 6 agreed to)
The Chair: On clause 8.... Hang on a second; I know what I'm doing here. I'm taking non-controversial clauses. I will be standing clauses 5 and 7 until I call them again, but on clause 8 there are no amendments.
Are there any questions or objections?
(Clause 8 agreed to)
The Chair: We will stand clause 9.
On clause 10, there are no amendments. Are there any questions or objections on clause 10?
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I don't understand. On the list I have here, I have amendment BQ-6 to clause 10.
The Chair: The clerk tells me that it's a new clause, not an amendment to clause 10.
(Clause 10 agreed to)
(Clause 11 allowed to stand)
The Chair: We'll stand clause 11. We can't do anything else.
We'll go back to clause 3, for a subamendment to L-01. We could move the subamendment to L-01, which would replace the word “subordonner” with the new word requérir.
Raymonde, maybe you can read it into the record as a subamendment to L-01.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Mr. Chair, I would ask that the wording of paragraph 3(e) in the French be changed by replacing the verb “subordonner” by the verb “requérir”. I do not have the text in front of me, Mr. Chair.
e) de requérir la démonstration d’un attachement au Canada pour l'acquisition --
Ms. Raymonde Folco: “de la citoyenneté”.
The Chair: Is there any further discussion on that one?
(Amendment agreed to)
The Chair: I promised Libby that before I closed off clause 3, I was going to give her an opportunity to speak. I don't want us to get too far ahead of ourselves here.
We are now on proposed clause 10.1 on page 25 of your book.
Madeleine, it's yours.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: This amendment is in line with what we heard from the witnesses. They told us that some people who had been in Canada a long time met all the requirements Canadians would expect an immigrant to this country to have. It might be worthwhile for the minister to declare them permanent residents after 10 years in the country.
I am not talking of a general amnesty. It is really a case by case matter. I am speaking of people who have proven themselves for at least 10 years.
The Chair: Sarkis, do you want to do that?
Rosaline, do you want to comment on this first?
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: It might be worth pointing out that this amendment was in Bill C-16.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Mr. Chair, the minister has full authority under subsection 25(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to grant permanent residence to anyone, where justified.
It is already in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the minister has total authority to do so. It is in section 25(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Would it create a legal problem to have it in the Citizenship Act? It is a matter of giving citizenship to those wishing to become Canadian citizens.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: The minister does not have the right to do under the Citizenship Act something he ought to do under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As soon as someone is a permanent resident and meets all requirements of the Canadian Citizenship Act, he or she may become a Canadian citizen. The minister therefor already has total authority to do what the amendment says under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I am thinking of some people who do not necessarily have permanent resident status. At the moment, there is the whole problem of the Algerian refugees, but there are certainly other situations as well. There are for instance the people from Ivory Coast who have come here, not as permanent residents but as temporary residents. We do not know how the situation in Ivory Coast will evolve.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: In really extraordinary cases, the minister can always, under section 10 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, examine each case on its own merits. There are already a number of powers the minister can make use of.
The Chair: Daniel.
Mr. Daniel Jean (Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Program Development, Department of Citizenship and Immigration): Ms. Dalphond-Guiral, every year hundreds of persons are granted their permanent residence based on humanitarian considerations. Take the case of Algerians, for example, there was an agreement between the federal government and the Government of Quebec. Using an establishment test, we verified if these people may merit permanent residency based on humanitarian considerations.
The Chair: Raymonde.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I agree with the principle that Madeleine mentioned, that people be admitted to Canada after 10 years of residency, but I think this is not the right bill for this type of provision, given that this is a citizenship bill. As Ms. Frith said, there is a provision on this in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
You are asking that persons who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years be deemed permanent residents, but this bill does not contain provisions on permanent residency; they are in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The Chair: Jerry.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I think the officials have it dead on, that they can apply under IRPA. But at the same time, if someone wanted permanent status after being here ten years, why on earth wouldn't they apply? To me, they have to take a necessary step on their own behalf; otherwise, you leave a notion that it's up to the minister to find everybody who has been here for ten years and to do something. To me, the act we dealt with already contains the right of the minister to do that, but at the second point, at least it leaves some initiative to anyone who has been here ten years to make an application for permanent status.
I don't see any problem with what exists right now. Why should it be in the Citizenship of Canada Act?
The Chair: I wonder, Madeleine, on the basis of the discussions with regard --
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I have a question, nonetheless. This was in Bill C-16. Why is this not in Bill C-18? Is it because the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has dealt with this?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: More or less, yes. We have carefully examined the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and we found that this already exists. We do not have the authority to do it under the Canadian Citizenship Act. This provision never should have been contained in Bill C-16. That was rectified with Bill C-18.
The Chair: I wonder, Madeleine, as it was dealt with because of IRPA, do you want to withdraw this one, as opposed to --
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I will give you the pleasure of voting against an amendment moved by the Bloc Quebecois; there will only be one.
The Chair: You want us all to express ourselves.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: That is freedom of expression.
The Chair: All right, amendment BQ-6, which is proposed new clause 10.1, has been moved.
The Chair: Sorry, Madeleine.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Oh, well, thank you.
The Chair: I like when people lose and say thank you, as opposed to losing and walking out the door. But that's okay.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I am an adult.
The Chair: Excuse me a moment.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Could I put an amendment forward and then go home?
(On clause 12 -- Rights and Obligations of Citizens)
The Chair: Let's move to clause 12. I will, on behalf of our colleague Inky Mark, move amendment PC-4 on clause 12. Or someone else can. It's on page 28.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I'll move amendment PC-4.
The Chair: Do you want to take us through it, Jerry?
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I can move it, but I don't have to support it.
The Chair: No, no, of course not.
Does anybody want to read it into the record so we can discuss it?
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I'll read it into the record.
The Chair: Mr. Mark had asked if we could facilitate him. In fact, Mr. Bryden was supposed to do it.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Yes.
12.(1) A citizen, whether or not born in Canada, is entitled to all the rights, powers and privileges, and is subject to all the responsibilities, duties and liabilities, to which a person who is a citizen at birth is entitled or subject and has the same status as that person.
(2) A citizen has the rights granted and the responsibilities set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian law, and is entitled to enjoy the peace and prosperity that prevails in Canada and to participate in its growth.
(3) Every citizen shall recognize and respect the application of the rights and responsibilities mentioned in subsection (2) to other citizens.
The Chair: As you know, this was additional to the clause. You will note clause 12 is a fairly short clause, but pretty powerful in its words. It says “All citizens have the same rights, powers, privileges, obligations, duties, responsibilities and status without regard to the manner in which their citizenship was acquired”. I think Inky was trying to add some additional substance to that clause.
Is there any discussion on that one?
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Mr. Chair, I must say that I preferred the original wording in the bill. When you say, “A citizen, whether or not born in Canada”, infers that all citizens are not really equal. If we really want to affirm that all citizens of Canada have the same rights and responsibilities, we need not say, “whether or not born in Canada”.
If the committee does prefer the wording proposed by our colleague Inky, I would like to point out that it contains a redundancy. His text reads as follows:
12.(1) A citizen, whether or not born in Canada, is entitled to all the rights, powers and privileges... to which a person who is a citizen at birth is entitled...
We could stop at the word “privileges”. My suggestion is that we keep the original wording of clause 12. Incidentally, I would be perfectly prepared to include the two new subsections suggested by Inky.
The Chair: Okay, Sarkis.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you very much.
The government will not support amendment PC-4. We think it is not desirable, because the clause, as is, says everything that needs to be said. It also goes somewhat beyond the application of the law, creating an obligation between citizens. So the government will not be supporting this motion.
Maybe the officials could expand on it.
The Chair: Sure.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: The way this clause was written, I believe it has two things in it that create an impression. It may not actually do it, but it gives the impression that it restricts rights and freedoms of the charter to citizens only, and that is not the case in Canada. Anybody on Canadian soil is entitled to the rights and freedoms of the charter. So it's how it's written.
The second thing is it appears to create obligations between citizens through the application of the law, and the law should apply to each person individually. For that, it would be preferable to stay with clause 12 the way it's written currently.
The Chair: Andrew, I think you were next.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I think Inky does express a fairly profound concern. And I do believe, going through our travels, there's a fair amount of uncertainty about rights. Yes, the charter should apply to all of the people all of the time. If we want to make it more inclusive, we can certainly do that.
But I feel pretty good about those two paragraphs that Inky put forth. I think it will give more comfort, if you will, to new citizens who are part of our country. I think those are two good paragraphs to add, and I think they would enhance the bill.
The Chair: Which two paragraphs are you referring to? I see three paragraphs here, and I know Madeleine said two paragraphs.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: The second and third paragraphs.
The Chair: Okay.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): I never thought I'd catch myself doing this; however, I'd like to defend the officials here. They have a certain expertise and depth of background in this whole area. They also particularly know how certain provisions and certain wording is likely to be interpreted and applied by the court.
Although this wording sounds beautiful and nice and warm and fuzzy to us, we have to remember that the law is going to be applied by the courts under certain rules of jurisprudence and legal interpretation. I think we'd be very wise to at least be cautious about amateur night at the drafting table when it comes to provisions that are going to affect people's lives and rights. Although it might sound good to us, as a lawyer I can see this kind of language can be full of holes that are going to get us into a lot of trouble when it comes to judicial interpretation.
I wouldn't always take the officials' word for it, but unless we have an awfully good reason to add language that's imprecise or could be interpreted in ways we don't intend, we should be pretty cautious.
The Chair: Okay.
Sophia, and then Raymonde.
Ms. Sophia Leung (Vancouver Kingsway, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We know in Canada there are so many immigrants. We know also, it's true, there are the naturalized citizens and the natural born. They are different. We know that. That's why I like Inky's first and second paragraphs. I think they very specifically clarify what is meant, that it should be the same. We know there are problems in terms of the two different statuses.
So I like his specific indication of what he really meant. In the official one, it says “in which their citizenship was acquired”. What does that mean, “acquired”? I guess you can say natural born or acquired as naturalized. I don't know. There are many different ways.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: It could have been a person who was born as a Canadian citizen in Canada. It could have been a person who lost citizenship status and then resumed it. This person is also a citizen. It could be someone who went through the process of retaining a citizenship and is a citizen. And it could be someone who was naturalized. There are different ways of becoming a citizen in Canada.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Or it could be someone who was born a citizen.
The Chair: Okay, now we go to Raymonde.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Well, I never thought I'd find myself agreeing on immigration with a member of the Alliance, but I totally with what Ms. Ablonczy has said.
The Chair: That's not unusual around this committee. We have a very nice chemistry working here.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I would rather say what I have to say without interruption, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Even when I pay you a compliment. You're incredible. That's fine.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I am. That's true.
What I wanted to add to what Madam Ablonczy has said -- and I fully, fully support what she had said in terms of fuzzy language and legal language -- a text of law also has a symbolic presence, a symbolic influence. And I think it's very important that in the text of law, in clause 12, it says “all citizens”; it doesn't say this kind of citizen, that kind of citizen. From the very beginning it states without ambiguity that they are all citizens. And I think the text of law brings forward this message very strongly.
I know in the past -- and I was one of those people who was hit by this -- there were citizens who could lose their status after ten years of non-residence in Canada and so on. But the text of law is non-ambiguous and symbolically clear to all people, no matter where they were born: as long as they are citizens, they are citizens, as we say in French
So I would fully support leaving clause 12 as it is.
The Chair: All right.
Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I immigrated to Canada in 1968 and I obtained my citizenship in 1974, I believe. Up until that time I was an immigrant. After that I considered myself a Canadian. So my immigrant status continued up until the moment I swore my alliance to this country. And I consider myself to be equally Canadian with my children and my granddaughter, who were born here.
So I think clause 12 is covering everybody equally, “all citizens”. To me, this is quite acceptable and I don't think there is any need to change it.
The Chair: Okay, Jerry.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I agree. The clause is a heck of a lot less ambiguous when you have the concise clause that says everyone has the same privileges, obligations, and so on. I think it's pretty clear and crisp.
The Chair: Sarkis.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you very much.
Also, it covers the citizens who lost their citizenship from 1947 to 1978, I believe. This kind of citizen is also covered in this definition we have here, because they lost it and then they received it back.
The Chair: If Inky were here in person to express himself, I think he would want to say -- and I think you've already done it for him -- that while clause 12 is all-encompassing and would include.... I think he was trying to, without doubt or with greater clarity, indicate that there is no difference between those citizens who were naturalized and those created by birth. We have different ways of expressing ourselves, and I think that's what Inky was trying to do. I think the debate we've just had on his motion has strengthened the intent of where he was trying to go. So I appreciate that on behalf of Inky.
I will call PC-4.
(Amendment negatived on division)
(Clause 12 agreed to)
(On clause 13 -- General principle)
The Chair: Clause 13, amendment PC-5.
Would you care to move that for us, Jerry?
Mr. Jerry Pickard: I move amendment PC-5, which reads as follows: “The right of citizenship may be revoked only by due process of law and on the grounds prescribed by law”.
The Chair: Okay. We'll now have discussion on that.
Sarkis will speak first.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The government will not be supporting this motion because it limits the government's ability to revocation only. Revocation is not the only way people lose their citizenship. They also lose their citizenship by renunciation, detention, and annulment of citizenship. We support clause 13 under “Loss of Citizenship” the way it stands as described in the bill.
I ask the department, if they have any more clarification, to make a presentation.
The Chair: Rosaline, do you have anything to add to what the parliamentary secretary has said?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: No. I would repeat that if we adopt this amendment, it would eliminate all of the provisions with respect to renunciation, retention, and annulment. In other words, if a person wished to take up the citizenship of another country and was no longer able to retain Canadian citizenship, and so sought to renounce it, doing so would be negated by this particular clause.
The same thing would apply for people who would not meet the requirements to retain their citizenship. This too would be negated by the clause. It would not allow for any procedure to cancel citizenship for people who should never have received it in the first place.
The Chair: The chair recognizes Andrew.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Well, maybe the officials can help on how the wording might be accommodated. This is clearly one issue Inky identified that is of great concern across this country. As a matter of fact, I'll be speaking at the civil liberties meeting in Ottawa this evening about citizenship and second-class citizenship.
I think there should be a way for us to work it so that, yes, if someone wants to give up citizenship, they can, if they want to take on citizenship in terms of another country. But if citizenship is going to be revoked, I think Inky has the right wording, except he might even have said “in accordance with the legal sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.
I think that is very important. I think it would give a great deal of comfort, particularly in terms of what has happened over the last number of years where this question has very much been raised. It's a topic of great discussion out there.
The Chair: Okay. I'll get to your question of the officials in a moment, Andrew.
Now we'll hear from Raymonde.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Yes, thank you.
Rightly or wrongly, I see clause 13 as an introduction to the clauses that follow in part 2, “Loss of Citizenship”. It seems to me the kinds of preoccupations Andrew has brought forward -- and I know he's very preoccupied by this, and has been for some time.... I think the place to discuss this, and to perhaps include it, is not in clause 13, but later on, when we discuss each part of how loss of citizenship, whether forced or volunteered, can occur. But it should not be here in the introduction.
All the introduction says is read what follows and then decide based on what follows. It is subservient to what follows: clauses 14, 15, 16, and so on. I would leave clause 13 alone and discuss where changes may be applicable in clauses 14, 15, 16, and so on.
The Chair: Thank you, Raymonde, and I think that might happen.
If I could, I think Inky's intent was.... As we move to the most important part of this bill, the biggest preoccupation is the loss of citizenship, as you know. If you look at clauses 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, you will know that most of the witnesses, or hundreds of witnesses, talked to us about the general theme of the due process of law.
I know where Inky is coming from with regard to due process of the law, and I know that what Raymonde says.... I guess the proof is in the pudding, so that each of the clauses that follow clause 13 -- which is just an introductory clause -- will have to meet the test of due process. Whether or not you do it in the spirit of clause 13, or whether or not you make sure it's there in clauses 15, 16, 17, and 18, I guess we will do it.
Rosaline, I think Andrew's question was whether there is any way one could work with the spirit and/or the wording of clause 13 to change it—or I suppose we'll deal with it clause by clause, as Raymonde has suggested.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I agree entirely with what Madame Falco has raised. In fact, this is an introductory clause. As we go through the bill, every one of the clauses must respect due process. We will discuss each one individually, and should something come up, I'm sure it will be debated.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: The designation in the margin for this clause is “General principle”. As presently enunciated, the general principle is that revocation will have to follow the measures outlined in succeeding clauses.
I think this amendment says the general principle should be that revocation should be based on due process. That principle was emphasized over and over by the witnesses we heard across the country, and is really in line with what many of us think on the committee; that is, if someone is going to be stripped of this very important status, it should be done only on the basis of due process. So it seems quite appropriate that we would enunciate that principle of due process, as it relates to revocation in the clause, because that is the general principle. The general principle is if we're going to revoke citizenship, it has to be by due process. So I think there's a lot of merit to this amendment.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I believe that in clause 16, where we're discussing simple revocation, it does follow due process of law. It is very clear.
Again, I think there are several different aspects falling under part 2 in terms of the loss of citizenship. Each one of them is in accordance with the rules set out in this clause. All of them are very clear.
The revocation in clause 16, where we're just dealing with misrepresentation, clearly follows due process of law.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: With respect, what follows doesn't always follow due process. A lot of times, the minister just decides; there is no appeal, there's no hearing, there's nothing, which has been one of our real concerns.
The second point I would like to reiterate is that the present wording of clause 13 is not a principle at all, but a process. It says revocation follows the process in this part, which is not a principle, but a process. Ergo, if you're going to call this a general principle, then it should enunciate a principle, and not say there's a process that has to be followed. The principle is due process, as set out in the succeeding clauses.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: The principle laid out here is that “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless they lose their citizenship in accordance with this Part”. So this is a positive statement that a citizen continues to be a citizen unless they lose it according to the following parts; and then each one of the clauses in part 2 has to lay out, with respect to due process, why you would be losing your citizenship. And the reason for losing citizenship in the case of revocation is misrepresentation.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: How else would they lose their citizenship?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: You could lose your citizenship because you failed to retain your citizenship. You could lose your citizenship because when you applied for citizenship you had a prohibition against you and it was a factual prohibition that we did not have in front of us, but the person --
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: All of which is set out in the succeeding clauses.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Absolutely.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: In other words, you're stating the obvious in clause 13: you're a citizen unless you're stripped of citizenship in the succeeding clauses. But that's still not a principle; it's a fact.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: The fact is, there's no other way of losing your citizenship.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: A fact is not a principle.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Thank you.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to leave the chair because I too want to talk about this.
Because it says “General principle”, I think I agree totally with what Diane is saying.
On part 2, as we move into clause 13 through to clause 18, there's a process by which someone who's already acquired.... Let's not forget that this is about loss of citizenship. Therefore, if you're going to call it a principle, then let's talk about the principle and not the process, because everything that follows in clause 14 to clause 18 is a process by which you will lose your citizenship by misrepresentations, by falsehoods, and so on and so forth. It's prescribed there.
I think this is what Inky in amendment PC-5 and what clause 13 try to do, whether or not Inky has it right or whether or not clause 13 has it right. I'm afraid that if we're going to talk about a general principle of loss of citizenship, which perhaps is, as we heard from witnesses, at clause 16, at clause 17, and at clause 18, it is probably the most profound loss they can have happen to them, because we're talking about people who already have their citizenship.
Let's not get into how they may have acquired it, but how in fact they have it and now they're going to lose it because someone says they've done something wrong: they've misrepresented the facts, there are some falsehoods, and so on and so forth. Therefore we are talking about a process of how we're going to remove their citizenship and how they're going to lose it.
Therefore, if we're going to talk about a principle in clause 13, then I think what I heard -- and I have to be true to the witnesses as well as some colleagues who spoke here -- is let's understand what that principle is.
Clause 13 says: “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless they lose their citizenship in accordance with this Part”.
Diane is absolutely right: this part is all about process. It's not about a principle that says you shall lose your citizenship but also be afforded the due process of all of the laws this country has to offer, including some of the ones we've just spent hours talking about. We spent a half an hour, 45 minutes talking about freedom of speech, freedom of expression, because it was dear. And we were told that this was part of the charter, this was how Canadians act.
So for greater clarity, I too want to ask the same question, I suppose, that Andrew may have asked. That is, how can we reflect the spirit of Inky's amendment PC-5 in clause 13 so that at the outset people will understand and know that to lose the citizenship will be in fact within the spirit of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, within the spirit of due process?
If you say that's assumed, that's in our laws, there's nothing wrong with essentially saying that in the general principle clause, because this clause 13 is not an operative clause, that people are going to be given the opportunity of due process of law with regard to the loss of their citizenship. A lot of people think that's probably the greatest thing they have. It's about their identity.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Before you answer that, I have an interpretation as well, and that is, you're innocent until proven guilty. Am I wrong? You're a citizen until it's taken away for certain things you've done. I see it as exactly the same wording, and I see it as a principle in which all things operate: innocent until proven guilty, citizen until such other action is taken.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's the way I read it, and that may be different.
Would you answer Joe's question?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I would come back on two things. Number one, we've already added a clause today to make sure that decisions respect the charter, and that was discussed.
The second thing is, I believe there's a way, if we were to say “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless they lose their citizenship in accordance with this Part.” Then we would add in the words, “Any loss of citizenship should be subject to due process of law and on the following grounds and in accordance with this Part.”
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Mr. Fontana, does that answer your concern?
Mr. Joe Fontana: Yes, and I think it goes a long way to answering your question, the presumption of innocence until you're proven guilty, so to speak.
Perhaps you can let me try this suggestion, because I think what Rosaline just suggested might work and it might even be better than mine.
I was looking at something right after the words “with this Part”, to add on “The right of citizenship may be revoked only by due process of law and on the grounds prescribed by laws in accordance with the legal sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” I can tell you that clause 16, as we get into that after, as we move into the process and as we try to protect due process, talks about laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and so on. So it wouldn't be inconsistent.
I think clause 13 can be worked on, again, whether it's Rosaline's words or whether it's mine, or Inky's for that matter, the spirit of which is trying to get to a principle in clause 13 that says presumption of innocence, due process of the law, and then you can move into the other thing.
So at this point, I don't know. I'm not prepared to move my thing.
Let me ask Rosaline whether or not that wording will cause her an awful lot of problems.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: It does, because, once again, we're talking about revocation. I believe this is an introduction to this part, and I believe we can respect the principle of what you're trying to put forward. I will repeat it again, as follows: “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless they lose their citizenship in accordance with this Part. Any loss of citizenship should be subject to due process of law and on the following grounds.” Then they would be laid out in each of the following clauses.
Mr. Joe Fontana: I'm prepared to move that amendment, so indicated by Rosaline.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): I'm not sure.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I asked for the right to speak about ten minutes ago, and I see the chair going on in a dialogue here.
Mr. Joe Fontana: What chair? I'm a member just like you.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: This is the chair.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Possibly, I can clarify.
Mr. Fontana was on the list, and I allowed Mr. Fontana to have his say. Mr. Telegdi is on the list before you are. Next on the list is Madam Folco, and you put your hand up at almost exactly the same time as Mr. Peric. I am paying attention and I am trying to facilitate, but I do have Mr. Telegdi ahead, Mr. Fontana ahead, and Mr. Peric is very close.
So if you give me your patience, I will try to deal with it in a fair way. I don't wish to have a difference with anybody. I have no idea of having a difference. I would like to see this go through. Everyone is concerned about getting the best solution we can, so I think we have to be patient with each other.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: If you'll pardon me, Mr. Chair, what I'm trying to say is this. I understand that people have a chance to say things, to bring other elements into the argument, rather than going back and forth between two people, whether it be a member or somebody representing the fonctionnaire. I think this is the way it normally works. Am I wrong in this?
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): I believe the discussion is going between a member asking questions of staff. To me, that is the way the process has always operated. I have chaired several committees, and that's the way I have chaired a committee. If you don't believe I'm chairing the committee properly, try to overrule me. Otherwise, let's go with the process.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: I don't want to do that, no.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Thank you.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I think you raised a very important question. I think the committee at some point is going to have to get its head around this issue. In the question you raised, you assumed there was a presumption of innocence. You asked the question, and it wasn't responded to.
The fact of the matter is that in the revocation of citizenship there is no presumption of innocence, no presumption at all. As it is set out in the legal rights section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the presumption of innocence does not apply. It's a real problem.
The reason is that you basically have the civil standard and the criminal standard in law. If you are charged with a criminal offence and you are an official, we dealt with that the last time we dealt with the Citizenship Act. We were talking about the penalties to be given to officials who are in a position of trust. If they are charged with fraud they are given the presumption of innocence, because the proceeding against them is done in a criminal court according to criminal procedure. It's done by giving them the presumption of innocence. That's a very important point.
When you go to the civil section, you're dealing with a balance of probabilities. What's a balance of probabilities? It's 51% or 49%. That's a balance of probabilities. In that area, the whole presumption of innocence doesn't apply. This is a huge problem that was identified as we went through the country.
Let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I don't think there's one person, or very few people -- and they would be people who are guilty, most likely, of crimes -- who would not want to get rid of anyone who was a criminal, a terrorist, a war criminal, or committed fraud to get citizenship. The problem is in the way the decision is made. It is made on a balance of probabilities and, under the present act, with absolutely no appeal.
Wrong decisions are being made. People are upset about it because they figure that the criminal standards should apply. They also believe that people whose citizenship is at stake should have the right to a presumption of innocence, as does a person who is picked up for fraud for trying to pass a bad cheque for $200 in a store. They get the benefit of the presumption of innocence.
In this act, the existing act, the presumption of innocence isn't there. If the presumption of innocence were there, I dare say that there'd be virtually no complaints. I think a lot of people would feel a lot better about citizenship. As we've said, citizenship is about a sense of belonging.
I felt it in my gut. I never wanted to get into the immigration and citizenship committee in the first instance, because I lived through it. I came to this country as a refugee. When I found out that the presumption of innocence did not apply to me, I found it really shocking.
Here I am, in my mid-fifties, really caught up in human rights issues and civil liberties issues because the place that I left was a communist dictatorship, a totalitarian regime, where citizenship rights were not respected. I came to the realization that although I am a member of Parliament and a parliamentary secretary, I am a second-class citizen, because I do not get the presumption of innocence if someone wants to take my citizenship away.
The presumption of innocence is very important and fundamental. If you want to deal with some of the anxiety out there, there are reasons for the anxiety.
If you go through the history of this country and look at what has happened in the past, there are a lot of things we are sorry for as a nation, as we should be. In 1982, on April 17, this country embraced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was to answer to past transgressions, if you will, with the recognition that what happened in the past was wrong. It was a promise not to go there again, and to have our fundamental human rights laws reflect the charter as we move forward as a society.
I dare say that this act, which has been in place since 1977, never had the benefit of the charter. It's important that the right to citizenship should have the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If we are an inclusive nation and we're not going to repeat the problems of the past, it is such a fundamental principle that we have to deal with it.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Thank you, Andrew.
Ms. Raymonde Folco: Thank you.
First of all, I'd like to remind my colleague that all legislation is subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada, and that includes the particular bill, Bill C-18, that we have in front of us.
Secondly, I wouldn't have put it in exactly the same terms as the chair put it when he talked about a presumption of innocence.
I think we're on the same wavelength when I look at the first part of clause 13. It says “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless...”. I think this is something we have not looked at sufficiently. If I take, for example, the communist regimes that have been brought up by my colleague, in those regimes it was possible for a citizen not to be a citizen very quickly and for very little reason.
The bill says “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless...”. That is fundamental. That is why I would accept, although it's really ancillary, that this is the general principle. The general principle of clause 13 is that “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless...“.
I think I can quote Madam Frith when she says that any loss of citizenship, and so on and so forth. I think that in this way the civil service is ready to add the spirit of amendment PC-5. I would agree with adding the spirit of amendment PC-5, but I would ask you to consider that clause 13 is a general principle. According to Bill C-18, “A citizen continues to be a citizen unless...”. That is fundamental.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Mr. Peric.
Mr. Janko Peric: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I will go one step further. Most likely some colleagues will not agree with me, but I have the right to express my views. Freedom of expression means that I can express myself vocally or in the Italian way.
A citizen continues to be a citizen until death. In my opinion, I don't think that anyone should have the power to take citizenship away from citizens.
In my view, I'm a citizen who came to this country and chose this country. I'm the same as, let's say, Mr. Charbonneau, who was born here, or my own children who were born here. I don't see any difference.
The only difference under this law would be that I might lose my citizenship. Citizenship is like a bond. It's like a marriage, a commitment of the individual and the nation. It goes both ways.
We may discuss and talk about somebody down the road who lied to us when coming to Canada. We know that today we have visitors coming to Canada, and then two weeks down the road they apply for refugee status and lie to us. Even immigration lawyers and consultants encourage them to make up stories and to lie. Is that a crime? Is it a crime not to tell the truth? What are we going to do with those people? Do you know how many thousands of them we have here?
If we're going to strip the citizenship from individuals, it means that we have flaws in our laws. Why don't we fix them?
I said that I have the right to express my views. It's why I feel that citizenship is a bond and no one can take it away. It's a loyalty made to the country, to the nation, and, in the same way, is an affirmation to me. It's like a marriage. You make a commitment to your partner for the rest of your life. I make a commitment to this nation for the rest of my life.
There should be no power to take this away. If I commit a crime, then I should pay for that crime. There are other ways to pay for crime.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Rosaline.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Mr. Chair, I too am the daughter of a refugee, and I could go through my family history of everyone who came as refugees.
I feel very strongly that we've tried to lay out some reasonable rules in part 2, “Loss of Citizenship”. They are not rules for our going out and revoking the citizenship of thousands of people; in fact, we revoke very, very small numbers. We take it very, very seriously when we deal with revocation.
An example would be people who blatantly lie about the fact that they are prohibited. They sign documents saying they are not prohibited, yet we find out within weeks of their having attained citizenship that they are prohibited -- and they may have committed a terrible offence in Canada, which Canadians do not accept.
If I don't have an ability to remove their citizenship, then we would allow people to lie to become citizens, and then to retain that citizenship and be dealt with just like anyone else. The current act has in place provisions to deal with people who misrepresent themselves to acquire citizenship. It already exists in the present act, which we have dealt with for over 26 years. Proposing to remove citizenship from someone who has acquired it through misrepresentation is nothing new.
Mr. Janko Peric: It defeats the whole purpose of clause 12:
All citizens have the same rights, powers, privileges, obligations, duties, responsibilities and status without regard to the manner in which their citizenship was acquired.
Now you're telling me -- and I want to be clear -- we have cases here because immigration lawyers and consultants are encouraging people to apply as refugees, even if they had come here as visitors. I'm saying that two weeks after they've been here.... I respect human rights, but I cannot respect abuse of the law on the backs of credible citizens or hard-working Canadians. If somebody is going to come here to abuse the system.... At the same time, we have some people, such as Africans, who have been waiting for two or three years, while somebody else is going to abuse the system by coming here on a shortcut, and get landed within the country....
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Thank you, Mr. Peric. I do appreciate the comment.
I am going to try to do something, but if we don't have unanimous support for it, we'll carry on as we are.
There are five people on the speakers list. There was an earlier suggestion by Rosaline and her officials that we place another proposition on the table to deal with due process and try to cover some of the things talked about. If it's okay with all committee members, I would like to see the new proposition put on the table, so that we know clearly what it is. If anyone objects, I will not go forward.
If it's okay with everyone, I'm going to ask Mr. Fontana to move a motion removing what we have on the table and to put forth the new one -- or however he wishes to handle this.
Mr. Joe Fontana: Sure, I will do that, and I would --
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): By the way, before I do that, is there any objection? None?
Mr. Joe Fontana: I would withdraw amendment PC-5 and essentially introduce a new motion that would say that the right of citizenship may be lost only by due process of law and in accordance with this part. That would be the new clause 13.
Now, can I just say, if I could put that forward, I think Raymonde is right. As a general principle.... And everybody has agreed that in its present form, it's not perfect. Therefore, one could add the spirit and everything else. I think adding the words “due process”, as suggested even by the administration, gives an awful lot of comfort that as we move through this process of clauses 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, we will be guided by the principle in clause 13 that essentially says that a citizen continues to be a citizen, and will only lose that in accordance with the due process. I think that would be helpful.
Because I can tell you, if you look at clause 16, just to give you an example, subclause 16(3), what's the sidebar on that? It says “Presumption”. That's what the chair was getting to. Guess what it says about presumption -- it says:
(3) For the purposes of this section, a person shall be considered to have acquired or resumed citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances...
Well, guess what? It's saying, holy geez, the presumption is you've already lied, and that's why we're going to take away your citizenship. I'm sorry, but if one were to read the word “presumption” and then read subclause 16(3), all of a sudden it says....
I know have to read the whole section. I know it says that. But when I see “presumption”, it says we're going to presume something. I think clause 13 in its amended form, by putting in “due process”, allays an awful lot of the fear that as we move through a very difficult process of the loss of citizenship, we will be guided by the general principle of due process in accordance with the law. I think that is a very powerful statement to make at the outset in clause 13.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Jerry Pickard): Thank you.
Now I have Sophia Leung, Lynne Yelich, Mr. Assadourian, and Mr. Telegdi on my list.
Ms. Sophia Leung: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think I really want to follow Rosaline and Joe, who are trying to insert “by due process of law”. Then revocation can be done. It's simple. Let's do it together, unless someone objects, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: Okay, Lynne.
Mrs. Lynne Yelich (Blackstrap, Canadian Alliance): Actually, I wanted to say I agree with the motion, because for all the witnesses we've heard, due process was a huge concern throughout the act. I think to put it in clause 13 would be a real comfort for a lot of witnesses, and it sets the principle of the bill. So I agree with it. I'm happy to hear this.
The Chair: Sarkis.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you very much.
I, too, would like to wait for the department to draft clause 13 in the new fashion, the way you proposed.
The Chair: I'm just taking their wording.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Oh, okay.
The point I want to make, Mr. Chairman, is.... Let me put the question the following way. You have two new Canadians, and you ask them after they become citizens if they lied. One says yes. You ask the second one, they say no. Now, tell me how you make a judgment. One says he lied or committed fraud on the application, whatever the case may be, and he says “I'm a citizen. Too bad.” The other one complied with the law, didn't lie, didn't do a thing. He's a citizen, too. The question is, how do you treat the two -- the same or differently?
There is something called proceeds of crime. If someone commits a crime, goes to court, is found guilty -- a notorious crime, say arson -- the court will say you cannot profit from your crimes; you cannot write a book. What we're saying here is you can profit from your crime. When you lie to me, you can still maintain your citizenship -- don't worry about it.
Is this the message we want to send? Or do we want to say there's a process here, and if you lie, you're going to lose this? This is the punishment: you're going to lose your citizenship.
Before you come, you know not to lie. If you commit a crime, you have to do the time. In this case there is no time. The time is that you lose your citizenship. You have to reward those in society who are straightforward, honest, and productive. I don't think we should reward those who lie to get citizenship to come to this country and get the rewards and benefits. For me, it's black and white.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chair: I believe the last speaker is Andrew, unless there is someone else.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I think it's really unfortunate that the only lawyer we have on the committee is not here, because due process --
The Chair: Who's that?
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Diane.
The Chair: No, she's a teacher.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: She's a lawyer.
The Chair: Oh, she's a lawyer too. A teacher and a lawyer, oh my God!
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Is she coming back?
Mrs. Lynne Yelich: No.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I happen to know something about the law, having worked in it for quite a number of years, in fact since 1976. I was so impressed with the way our legal system operated, particularly the presumption of innocence. I worked with the criminal courts. In April we completed our 25th justice dinner in the Waterloo region. Since I've been a member of Parliament, it has been taken over by a community group.
The due process of law does not guarantee presumption of innocence. You see, we have a very unfair piece of legislation right now in terms of citizenship revocation. It was the issue I resigned over as parliamentary secretary. I could not face letting this thing go while I was parliamentary secretary. I could not accept the fact that I and people like me would not have the benefit of the legal section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I didn't go as far as my colleague Janko -- he wants to hit a home run. I'm quite happy to get a double, and let the legislation.... But I think we need to make improvements.
I don't disagree with Sarkis. We don't have a disagreement on that. But the fact of the matter is if somebody comes along and says to Sarkis, “You committed fraud; you gave a bum cheque knowingly for $500 -- you tried to defraud a store”, guess what? The Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to Sarkis, so he can defend himself against the charge of fraud, even though in all probability he's guilty, because there's so much evidence around it.
I'm just saying the presumption of innocence is there. A person can be caught red-handed, committing a crime, captured on camera, and until that individual pleads guilty or is found guilty, the presumption of innocence is there.
Now, let's suppose somebody says to Sarkis -- under the present act -- “Sarkis, before you came to this country, you knew some people in the Middle East, and some of those people turned out to be terrorists. You know, when you came to this country you knowingly concealed material circumstances”. Surely to God we would want to know if you were in touch with terrorists.
Now, it's important when you look at this legislation, because this government wasn't satisfied with the present inadequate act under Bill C-29. When they tried to change the act in Bill C-63, they tried to remove “knowingly”. It's in the record. It's in one of these explanation books, where they talk about it -- well, if we're only doing a civil case, we don't have to have “knowingly” in there; we can take it out.
That previous act also had a section in there...not only are we not satisfied with the present flawed process; what we're going to do is remove “knowingly”. But heaven forbid, not only are we going to get that evil person who we caught in the scrap, but if he or she happens to have a dependent child who came in with them, we're going to be able to take his or her citizenship away, as well.
Well, here I was, 55 years old, thinking to myself, my God, if they found something on my mother or my father under this what I consider very fraudulent process, they would propose to come and take my citizenship away. This came out from our officials. This came from our people in our citizenship department. There was no due process. It was becoming more and more draconian.
So if you wonder why I have a little concern with this issue, that's why.
Unless you put in under due process that it be in accordance with the legal sections of the charter -- because there are a number of them, including presumption of innocence -- then the due process doesn't mean anything. You can have a bad due process. I think it's important to understand this.
As long as we are all agreed that if someone tries to take my citizenship away, I have the same right to defend it as I have if somebody accuses me of stealing $500.... My citizenship is a hell of a lot more important to me than $500.
To put it in another context, Clifford Olson committed a heinous crime; so did Paul Bernardo. They could never have their citizenship revoked, if they had citizenship in this sense, because they committed their crimes afterwards -- heinous criminals.
The Chair: That's true, but they were born here --
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Even if they hadn't been born here, you couldn't have their citizenship revoked.
The Chair: That's true.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: So I think this is very, very important.
The Chair: I know what you said about due process and then attaching something to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and all that sort of stuff, but you can't move it.
I understand it, but in the words of John Bryden, who said freedom of speech is known to anyone who knows the English language, “due process” does mean those laws as prescribed, or those within the Charter of Rights, without having to say so. I would hope. That's how I see it.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Ask the officials if that's --
The Chair: Well, could I just ask this simple little question? Do you believe that when we use the term “due process”, that in fact is the due process under the Constitution of this country, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, I do, but I also believe we've made reference to the charter, and the charter specifically says that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
The Chair: Yes, and we're going to do that, and you read from clause 16, which is where you would put it. Okay, that's fine.
We'll hear from Massimo, and then we'll take the vote on this.
Mr. Massimo Pacetti: I'm going to start at the end, but just in answer to Andrew, whether it's Clifford Olson or Massimo Pacetti, if a citizen commits a crime, he's going to be punished under the Criminal Code. But if Massimo Pacetti -- or in this case, Janko -- committed a crime as a former citizen of another country, if I understand it, he's going to be under jurisdiction of that other country.
The Chair: This thing only actually kicks in if he misrepresented those facts when he was applying for citizenship. Right?
Mr. Massimo Pacetti: What I've heard up to here is that there are two types of citizens. There are. There's a timeline. We can't ignore the fact that somebody has come from another place. We do not absolve them for what they've done in the past just by giving them citizenship. If they haven't done anything, they haven't done anything; but if they've done something and it's come to light, what is wrong with that? We're talking about two different things.
As you said, we'll probably talk about due process later on. Even if it's my parents who had done something wrong and then come here, what should happen? Should they have gotten their Canadian citizenship and then be given a free ride? I don't understand. I think that's what we're talking about here.
The act is very rarely put in place, and that's what we're talking about. Some of the cases you've given me.... I'm talking to Andrew, and I should be talking to the chair. Andrew has given me a lot of documentation, always referring to the same cases. Maybe some of those were not in proper due process, but --
The Chair: Andrew has used examples from criminal cases. We're talking about misrepresentation, essentially with regard to revocation, as we get into this section on loss of citizenship and everything else --
Mr. Massimo Pacetti: But we've been told it has to be major misrepresentation. We don't even process people lying on their application forms.
The Chair: We'll ask the officials.
Rosaline, would you answer Massimo's question?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: We deal with three different kinds of issues. The very serious ones fall under clause 17 in this legislation, which deals with the war criminals, the terrorists, and the organized criminals. Those are dealt with here. Then you have a small group of people who lie, either on their residence issues...they lie in order to acquire citizenship. Those we would deal with under clause 16, where we would revoke their citizenship. The consequence would be that they'd lose their citizenship and would return to being permanent residents, and they would have to wait five years before they could reapply for citizenship, and then they'd have to meet the requirements. Essentially the message here is don't lie when you apply for your citizenship.
There are also those people who may have lied when they immigrated during the immigration process, and they would also normally be treated under clause 16. They would go through a full court procedure to determine whether or not they had lied. If they had, they would have their citizenship revoked and would fall back under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for any further action that would be taken; and they would have all of the rights that appear under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, such as appeals. They would have everything that they had coming to them.
We also have clause 18 here, where we're talking about cancelling someone's citizenship because we made a mistake and never should have given it to them in the first place. They had a prohibition against them that wasn't in the system, and we shouldn't have given it to them, but we didn't find out about it. Then they lied when they signed their oath and said they didn't have anything against them. And in those cases we would remove their citizenship. Again, that would be just a removal of citizenship; they would still be a permanent resident and would have to wait five years before they could apply again for citizenship.
There are several different ways of dealing with loss of citizenship. There is definitely due process in the sense of if someone's citizenship is to be cancelled, it would be based on a factual paper that showed they were prohibited and had no right to citizenship. In the case of a normal revocation, they would go through a full court procedure, through the Federal Court, and they would have a right to appeal all the way with leave to the Supreme Court of Canada. They would have the full process.
It is only for a small number of criminal cases, where we would have evidence that we would have to use a security certificate because there would be a danger to the public or to someone else that we couldn't refer back. Those would be dealt with differently. But in general --
The Chair: And this applies to clauses 16, 17, and 18, as we get into those. Right now we're just talking about clause 13, but that was a very good question and a good example.
Sarkis, you had another question, quickly, for Rosaline.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Yes, I have a quick question.
Can you tell us which one of those categories will send a person back to the home country, the place where he or she came from?
The Chair: Probably at least clause 17 would do that.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: The removals would usually arise in cases where the person is a criminal associated with organized criminality. It could be terrorism. It's normally in a really bad case where we revoke citizenship and then proceed with a removal order. It could be people who are wanted for crime in another country. There could be many situations, but it's usually a serious issue.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Under the other two clauses, they only lose their citizenship, but they remain residents of Canada.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: They retain their permanent resident status.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: And they have the right to apply again to be a citizen.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, they do.
The Chair: So that applies to the misrepresentation stuff and everything else in clauses 16 and 18, right? Okay.
Mrs. Lynne Yelich: Does the presumption of innocence apply? Some have said it doesn't.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: Essentially the person is going through a court system, so the judge would have to see the case. A case is going to have to be made to prove that the accused party misrepresented the facts. The government has to make the case.
The Chair: I think the question was whether there is a presumption of innocence even on the basis of the government and/or the judge -- we know that -- before you move toward 16, 17, and 18, which is the process.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: We would never bring forward a case unless we believed we had all the facts. We, as the government, are bringing forward a case, so we would have to say here are all the facts and this is why we believe there was misrepresentation when this person applied for citizenship or was going through the immigration process.
The Chair: Listen, we're talking about clause 13. As we get into clauses 16, 17, and 18, on how applications get done, that's when you can start to ask the question. That's why the loss of citizenship in general principles.... We've now improved to say that the right of citizenship may be lost only by due process of law and in accordance with this part.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Mr. Chairman, I'm sitting here and listening, and we must be very clear: it doesn't apply. I think you know it doesn't apply.
The Chair: It doesn't apply to what?
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Presumption of innocence does not apply in this case the way it's set up. It doesn't apply. Ask the lawyer, and he'll tell you it doesn't apply.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: We're not there yet. We're talking about clause 13.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: If we're talking --
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, that question has been asked repeatedly, and you did not give a straight answer. Just tell this committee, does the presumption of innocence apply, or does it not apply?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: If you're asking me --
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Every prosecutor believes the person they're charging is guilty, and that's how our system works. I understand that. But answer the question: does the presumption of innocence apply, yes or no, either in front of you or in front of the court in this, the way this is set up?
Ms. Rosaline Frith: This is not a criminal case we're talking about.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: So it doesn't apply. So just say it doesn't apply. Don't talk around it, just say it doesn't apply.
Ms. Rosaline Frith: I'm trying very hard not to talk around the issue. If you asked me why the government would bring a case, I told you precisely why: we would bring the case because we have evidence that to us would indicate very clearly that the person lied, they misrepresented in order to either acquire their immigration status or at the citizenship process. We have what we feel is clear proof.
We would have to bring that proof forward to a judge in the case of a revocation proceeding, and then we would have to make the case to the judge that in fact those are the facts. If the judge believed those to be the facts, then we would proceed and he would revoke the person's citizenship.
The Chair: Let's use this as an example. Let's face it, when the police go to charge you, Andrew, there's not a presumption of innocence on their part. They have some evidence that might say they're going to move to charge you. Once you move from that to a legal system, then all of a sudden hopefully due process of the law starts to say he's presumed innocent.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, it doesn't.
The Chair: Wait a minute. He's presumed innocent on the civil basis and regulations, until such time.... Of course the prosecution is going to try to prove that wrong, but let's face it, it's a judge, the due process, because now you're starting to question the whole legality of our legal system.
The police lay the charge based on whether they have enough evidence to bring the charge forward. It's not up to them to bloody well determine whether the person's guilty or innocent. That's left to the judicial system to do so, right?
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I wish Diane were here, because she was a teacher, as well as a lawyer.
The Chair: I don't care. I know Diane's a lawyer.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, but what I'm saying to you, Mr. Chairman, is under the process, when you proceed in a civil action, the presumption of innocence never applies. It doesn't apply before the judge.
The Chair: Let me ask the question, then. You asked for me to ask the question of Rosaline or Paul, because it has to be a lawyer, right?
Answer Mr. Telegdi's question. Is the presumption of innocence embedded in clause 13?
Mr. Paul Yurack (Counsel, Legal Services, Department of Citizenship and Immigration): You've asked two different questions.
The Chair: He's a good lawyer.
Mr. Paul Yurack: Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
To answer Mr. Telegdi's question directly, the presumption of innocence as set out in the charter applies to a person who has been charged with an offence -- and that is, in my understanding, a criminal offence. We're not talking about criminal offences in the Citizenship Act; we're talking about a civil proceeding in a civil court of law. Hence, Mr. Telegdi's point is accurate that a person would not “benefit from the presumption of innocence”.
However, let me clarify that as we had set out in clause 13, the principle is that a person is a citizen. If you want to talk about that as being your presumption that the person has the status of a citizen until that is taken away in accordance with due process as set out in clauses 16, 17, or 18, as the case may be, then that person would benefit.
The Chair: We're halfway there. As we move from principle to application, I can hardly wait for those discussions on clauses 16, 17, and 18.
I'm going to put the question on the motion, the new clause 13, which reflects what we've just been talking about. It says “The right of citizenship may be lost only by due process of law and in accordance with this Part.” That's what's formally before us.
(Amendment agreed to)
(Clause 13 agreed to)
The Chair: Colleagues, it's 5:30. I'm going to leave clause 3 open because I promised Libby and everything else.
Anyway, I'm going to adjourn these meetings to the call of the chair. Some additional consultation has to take place between the House leaders and everything else, because the chances are we may be not doing anything until the fall. I will let you know whether or not we're having a meeting on Thursday or any time next week.
The meeting is adjourned to the call of the chair.