Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration hearings
on Bill C-18, the proposed Citizenship of Canada Act

NUMBER 062    |    2nd SESSION   |    37th PARLIAMENT
Tuesday, May 27, 2003

[The whole session is relevant to revocation of citizenship,
also known as the denaturalization and deportation process]

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(1105)

[English]

The Chair (Mr. Joe Fontana (London North Centre, Lib.)): Colleagues, this morning we are going to continue our technical briefing with the department with regard to Bill C-18. We'll pick up where we left off a few weeks ago with a view to getting some clarification as we move, hopefully, to clause-by-clause next week.

Rosaline, welcome to you and your colleagues. I know you have an opening statement, and then we'll cover off some of the issues we've left in abeyance until today.

So welcome again, and thank you so much to all of you.

Ms. Rosaline Frith (Director General, Integration, Department of Citizenship and Immigration): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the committee. It's a pleasure to be here again today to answer some of your questions on Bill C-18.

I have with me Patricia Birkett, registrar of Citizenship, as well as our legal counsel, Paul Yurack. Also with us today is Robert Batt, legal advisor from Justice, Brian Foley from our department, and Lynn Lovett, the acting deputy director and senior counsel for the War Crimes Unit.

In particular, Mr. Batt is here today to answer questions about the Federal Court process concerning security certificates. Before my colleague from Justice begins, I would like to present to you a few information notes that will respond to questions raised by the committee the last time we were here.

The first document responds to the question, why are residence requirements for citizenship different from those under IRPA? In short, the answer is that the requirements for retaining permanent resident status are and should be different from those for acquiring citizenship. Loss of permanent resident status for not meeting the residence obligations could lead to removal from Canada or refusal of entry. On the other hand, not meeting the residence requirements for obtaining citizenship status means only that the applicant must apply at a later date, after he or she has spent enough time here. Citizenship, to be meaningful, should require a commitment to Canada beyond that of permanent residence.

The second document responds to a question on the resources spent on the revocation process. As the briefing note explains, many revocation cases are handled under the broader framework of war crimes programs, and accounting methods do not permit for a breakdown of resources spent on specific aspects of those programs. Nevertheless, we have attempted to detail as accurately as possible the cost associated with the relevant programs.

The third document indicates the number of security certificates used for immigration purposes that have been considered reasonable by the courts.

Finally, the fourth document outlines current citizenship application volumes and the average processing times. Included is a chart explaining the current process when someone applies for citizenship. We've also provided an approximate breakdown of CIC employees involved in the citizenship process.

I hope you will find the information provided satisfactory.

With your permission now, Mr. Chair, my colleagues and I will be pleased to answer any further questions after Mr. Batt's short presentation.

(1110)

The Chair: Thank you, Rosaline.

Mr. Robert Batt (Counsel, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Department of Justice): Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

I was asked to appear here this morning to explain briefly how the security certificate process works in Federal Court. I have handled six of these cases over the past six or seven years.

The starting point for these cases is basically that intelligence is available that an individual is a member of a terrorist group, an organized crime group, or whatever or that he or she is otherwise inadmissible. This information is put together in the form of a security intelligence report, and then it is presented to the two ministers, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Solicitor General of Canada. It has to go to these two political ministers before it goes anywhere else. If these two ministers agree, they sign a certificate indicating that in their opinion the information is reasonable and that the person is inadmissible to Canada.

The certificate and the security intelligence report, which is a classified document, are then filed with the Federal Court, and the chief justice of the Federal Court appoints a designated judge to review the information. Before the judge does that, the individual is detained by Immigration and the RCMP within the context of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the previous Immigration Act.

Under the legislation the judge has seven days to examine the classified material. The judge goes through all of that material and then prepares a summary that is ultimately presented to the individual who's the subject of the proceedings, and a date is set for the open hearing.

At the open hearing the individual has the right to respond to the allegations that are contained in the summary and that have been stated in the certificate. The individual who is the subject of the proceedings is aware of the essence of the allegations that are being made against him or her. In most of these cases they're provided with documents several inches thick that outline the case against them or some of the allegations in relation to the groups they're alleged to belong to.

At this point we get into the Federal Court. The minister does not call witnesses in the public forum, but the individual who is the subject of the proceedings can himself or herself give evidence and can call witnesses. In most of the cases I've been party to this has happened, although over the years there have been one or two cases where the individual declined to call any evidence.

As counsel for the two ministers, I am entitled to cross-examine the individual who is the subject of the proceedings and any witnesses he or she may call. We're often asked to provide witnesses for examination by the individual. We do provide individuals from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or from other agencies who may have some knowledge of the individual, who may have interviewed the individual, and the counsel for the person who is the subject of the proceedings can then cross-examine these government employees.

Ultimately, after hearing all of the evidence, the judge renders a decision, and that's basically the end of the security certificate process insofar as the court is concerned. In these cases the next step is removal from the country, but we don't get involved in that in the court itself.

So that's the essence of the process.

In the course of cross-examination by me or other counsel for the ministers the Federal Court judges have made it very clear to us they are in a difficult position having to make a decision in relation to an individual on the basis of classified information, so we attempt to elicit as much information as we can during the course of cross-examination.

In all the cases I've participated in, I think, the judges have made clear in their decisions that they are basing their decision in large part on the fact that they found the individual who was the subject of the proceedings not to be credible. The judges have said, for example, that they have found the individual, in stating he or she is not a member of a terrorist group, is not a credible witness. Then he goes on to say, this position is backed up by the classified material I have before me.

(1115)

So we do make an effort to make it more comfortable for the judges to render a decision. We're very much aware of the fact that it's difficult for everybody, including the counsel for the individual, to deal with the classified information, but that's the process we have before us.

The Chair: I wonder if we could just stick to the subject matter, because this was an important one and I know a number of questions had arisen. Last time, Mr. Assadourian had asked some with regard to how many in numbers. I'm just wondering if you could take us through the process.

All our witnesses raised a number of questions, including a retired Federal Court judge who indicated that most judges are put into the difficult position of having to either believe or not believe the security service's or the Crown's position on the basis of nothing other than the evidence presented by you or the fact that the minister believed something.

Second was the lack of an appeal mechanism after the finding of the judge with regard to whether the security certificate was in fact valid, and therefore before removal.... There were a lot of people who indicated that perhaps, because a lot of this is done in private as opposed to in public, another vehicle other than one judge could be used to assess the evidence presented. What is the bar?

There was another fundamental question too. Subclause 17(1) says:

“information” means security or criminal intelligence information and information that is obtained in confidence from a source in Canada or from the government of a foreign state, an international organization of states or an institution of either of them.

Perhaps you can take us right from the beginning to the end of the process again. How do we verify, especially if it's a source coming from within Canada, that this is not just a case of someone getting back at a person they may not like? They may therefore deposit a letter or make an insinuation or an accusation to the effect that this person may have done something inside Canada or, worse still, outside Canada, such as being involved in war crimes and so on.

In the first instance, I wonder, who determines whether or not that's a valid source or valid information?

Mr. Robert Batt: Mr. Chairman, if we go back to the process used under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the section says that the judge must examine the information. It's not my position to decide what the ministers would do, but I certainly would not advise them to go ahead with just one piece of information.

Normally, the documentation in camera before the Federal Court judge is fairly voluminous, and it may come from a number of different sources that corroborate each other. There could be foreign agency information, there could be domestic agency information from the RCMP or from Immigration Canada or CCRA, there could be human sources, and there could be intercepts, wiretaps, and other sorts of materials.

I would not see a case where it proceeds simply on the basis of one person saying this person is a member of an organized crime group, a terrorist group, or whatever. I wouldn't want to go to court on the basis of that as a lawyer for the ministers. Again, I don't want to presume what the ministers would do, but I wouldn't think they would go ahead with such a minimal amount of information.

As I say, the section says the judge is obliged to examine the information. Some of the decisions indicate the judges have looked at the information pretty carefully and have made a point of testing it, either by examining witnesses in camera or by asking questions. I think there are court cases that indicate that.

The Chair: Sarkis.

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Thank you very much, and thank you very much for the information you've provided. I think it's very informative.

I have a couple of follow-up questions to those raised by the chair and some questions of my own. When you are in court making a decision on someone's crime, you have the judge and you have the jury with 12 members; they all make a decision. But we know of four or five incidents in the past where the decisions made were wrong, and an innocent person was in jail for 10, 15, 20, or 25 years.

What I'm trying to get at is, even a 12-member jury can make a mistake, based on the evidence provided by the police. Why do we have to have only one judge? What's your feeling about having two judges combined in a hearing on a particular case? This would benefit both you as the counsel for the government and the individual who's being charged, so at the end of the day you don't feel guilty that you could have changed the decision some other way. That's my first point.

Second, there's a gentleman in Montreal who's been in the news the last couple of days; he's been in jail for two years. I wonder if a certificate was served against this guy, and if there was a certificate, how come this person is still in jail after two years but has never been charged with anything? This is in your jurisdiction.

Third, you talk about issuing certificates in the last year or so since September 11, and the government has made a list of 2,000 or maybe 3,000 undesirable or inadmissible individuals who belong to certain groups. For the certificates issued before that time, how do you determine if the person was involved in anything or what have you?

(1120)

The Chair: On question one, with regard to having two or three judges or another mechanism, you may want to answer that, of course, and also the last question as it relates to what Sarkis indicated about the number of groups that are listed.

On the second question, the one about the individual who is now in jail in Montreal, I'll leave it up to you to disclose any information you need to tell us in camera as opposed to making it public, because it is a specific case.

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Mr. Chair, if I can make a clarification, I'm not interested in what the guy did. What I'm interested in is the process. Two years in jail without being charged: why is that, if you have a security certificate that says the judge has seven days to make a decision? Hopefully, a decision was made.

The Chair: But if I'm not mistaken, there was a security certificate issued in that case.

Mr. Robert Batt: I believe there was an individual arrested in Montreal last week. I'm not aware of anybody who's been in jail for two years in Montreal.

I am aware of a case that was decided yesterday by the Federal Court where an individual has been in jail since August of 2001, when it was commenced by a security certificate. That's the Jaballah case, but I don't want to comment on it too much because I think there's a right of appeal on the part of both parties within the next 30 days. There is a 60-page decision you might wish to look at that explains part of the reason as to why there has been this delay.

But as I say, I'm not aware of a case in Montreal.

The Chair: I think that's the one he's referring to, the Jaballah case.

Mr. Robert Batt: Insofar as three judges are concerned, I guess that's really for Parliament to determine. Wherever you have a process that involves human beings -- and I've been involved in the courts for about thirty years -- there's always a possibility of making a mistake. All I can say is that the process we have here in Canada was recommended by the European Court of Human Rights to the British, and they have adopted it there as one of the more progressive types of procedure that can be used in cases where you have a need first to protect national security information but second to give the individual a fair trial.

Whether or not you have one or three judges is not really for me to decide. I work with what Parliament has given me.

The Chair: How about the list of inadmissible groups? That was his third question.

Mr. Robert Batt: I think I missed the question, but maybe I could just explain that even before they had the process of listing groups, the judges were in a position to decide whether or not a specific group was a terrorist group. Insofar as this process has been concerned, the listing process wasn't necessary to the security certificate process.

But I missed your question, so perhaps you could repeat it.

(1125)

The Chair: I think you covered it.

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: I have one final point. How do you delist a group from this list?

Mr. Robert Batt: I'm not really familiar with that legislation, so I'd probably better not answer it. It's a different piece of legislation from what I work with.

The Chair: Thank you.

Diane, do you have any questions? If we could, let's stick to the security certificates.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Canadian Alliance): That's what I have a question about.

You mentioned that a person could be subject to a security certificate if they were terrorists or if they were affiliated with a terrorist group or a criminal organization. Then you said “or is otherwise inadmissible”. Can you just expand on that and help us understand what the “otherwise” might mean.

Mr. Robert Batt: In the legislation under the Immigration Act you had to look at section 19, and I think it's now sections 33 and 34 under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They define different categories of inadmissible persons. One category was for members of a terrorist group, and I believe there are sections dealing with organized crime, although I have never personally dealt with them. Individuals could be determined to be inadmissible because they themselves were terrorists or engaged in terrorist activities without being members of a group.

All I meant to say was that there are a number of subcategories of inadmissible persons, and you would go either under the old act to section 19 or under the new act to sections 33 and 34.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I can reference that, thank you.

The Chair: Madeleine, do you have any questions?

[Translation]

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): You said that you are not aware of the Moroccan man who has been in jail in Montreal for several days. In media interviews, he said that he had been approached a long time back by CSIS and asked by them to act as an informer, but he had refused. Of course, anyone can say anything they like, including politicians. It happens every day. It seems logical to me that if someone is asked to be an informer and refuses, there would be a need felt to get rid of him. In any case, that might be the thinking.

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: If you'll excuse me, I'll answer in English.

If I understood your question correctly, I really don't want to comment on that case because right now it's under consideration by a Federal Court judge. I believe we're referring to the Charkaoui case. It would be improper for me to discuss anything either Mr. Charkaoui has said or the ministers for their parts have said, so I ask to be excused from answering that specific question.

[Translation]

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: The case is currently under consideration by a Federal Court judge. Will the judge have access to this person's allegations, or will his decision be based merely on the information in the security certificate?

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: No. Again, if I understand your question, first of all, the judge reviews in camera, in the absence of the individual concerned, the classified intelligence that has been presented by the two ministers. Then the individual, using the summary that has been provided to him by the court, has an opportunity to respond in public. So he or she can make any allegations they want against the ministers, the intelligence service, the police, or whoever, and they will be cross-examined in relation to those statements.

But no, the judge doesn't make the decision only on the basis of the classified information. If the individual declines to testify or declines to present any evidence on his or her behalf, then the judge is stuck with making a decision on the basis of the classified information. But if the individual takes advantage of his or her right to be heard in public, then the judge has the benefit of that person's testimony and the testimony of any witnesses they may call.

As I said, in most of the cases I've handled, the judge has commented on the credibility of the individual and has said that in part his decision is being made on the basis that he finds the individual who has given evidence not to be credible. In other words, he didn't believe somebody who stood up and said no, I am not a member of a terrorist group. He just didn't believe them for whatever reasons he might state in his judgment.

(1130)

[Translation]

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Does the judge have to indicate his reasons for finding that Mr. Charbonneau, for example, is not credible, or does he merely decide that the person is not credible and that is all there is to it?

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: You're asking me if he must express his reasons. I'm not sure if there's any law. I believe there are some decisions in the Court of Appeal that say a lower court judge should explain why he or she finds somebody not to be credible.

If you go to the decisions under the security certificate process, in most cases a judge will detail why he or she does not believe the evidence they received from the individual. I recall one case where the judge said, based on the open information and on information from other witnesses who gave testimony in public, I have counted at least nine lies this person has told. In other cases judges may detail exactly why they find a person not credible. So in general they do specify why they don't find the individual to be credible.

[Translation]

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: He is not required to do so.

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: Well, it doesn't say that in the statute, but there are decisions in courts of appeal that say a judge of the first instance should explain why he's finding somebody not credible. I think in these cases, because part of the process is secret, there's also a desire on the part of the judges to explain to the public, to the person who's being held in custody, and to the ministers why they are ruling the way they are ruling.

You will find, for example, some of these decisions are quite long. The one in relation to Mr. Jaballah yesterday is 60 pages long. The judges generally want it to be known why they are making the finding they are because they're very conscious of the fact that part of the process is in secret, and that's contrary to the general traditions of our legal process -- except in certain cases.

The Chair: For better clarification for me and the committee, can the judge ask questions of the accuser, whoever that might be, even if it's a foreign government or if it's anybody inside Canada? I just want to know whether or not the judge can actually test the evidence that's being brought forward, even if it's under confidential cover because it's a security issue.

Mr. Robert Batt: Again, the section says the judge has to examine the evidence in camera. He can ask questions of government employees, the ministers' representatives.

Let's just go to the Jaballah decision on a technical point; the judge required me and my colleagues, counsel for the ministers, to assist him several times in camera in trying to ascertain exactly what the information was. There have been other cases where the judges have said, I want you to go back and pursue this issue for me and find me more information in relation to these classified documents I have.

So the judge can exercise some initiative and seek out more information for clarification.

The Chair: Yes, but it's only with the Crown or people like you, not necessarily with the people who are putting forward a particular question or concern. Is that what you're saying, that the judge cannot do that?

Mr. Robert Batt: If you're asking me if the judge can call witnesses, the answer is that I've never seen that happen. I know in the Jaballah case he did say, I want you to make available a witness from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to publicly give information in relation to this case, and that in fact happened.

The Chair: I'm talking about other than the RCMP, CSIS, you, and everybody else. Can he compel or can he ask a witness to come forward, maybe the person who gave the information in the first instance? It's an adversarial system, and in a court case that's not security-related the judge is there, you have a defence counsel, you have a prosecutor, and you're able to face your accuser.

I understand that this is all constitutional because the accuser is essentially not there aside from those who prepared the certificate, and therefore you're being asked to submit all of this evidence. I think the retired Federal Court judge who spoke to us, Justice Salhany, indicated that any judge might find it difficult and therefore has to rely on the government information they have because they can't test it anywhere else.

(1135)

Mr. Robert Batt: I'll just go back to Mr. Justice Salhany. My understanding is that he was a justice in the Superior Court of Ontario, not the Federal Court of Canada. Although in that capacity he would be a federally appointed judge, he wouldn't be a member of the Federal Court.

I've never seen a judge in these proceedings call a witness on his or her own initiative, but as I've said, in some cases a judge has strongly recommended that counsel for the ministers find him some more information in relation to specific pieces of intelligence he had been given.

Let's suppose, for example, that certain information came from a foreign intelligence agency source. He would have no authority and we would have no authority to compel that person to appear in a Canadian court. The judge would have to test that intelligence in other ways, by comparing it to other classified information or to open information he or she had been given.

The Chair: Andrew.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, this is all very new in terms of applying it to citizenship and applying it to citizens. I think what former Justice Salhany said was that the way our court system works is that the judge is dependent on having the evidence presented to him tested, which means we should have a defence attorney and we should have a crown attorney. In this situation we have a crown attorney but no defence attorney.

If people are skeptical of intelligence information, part of that skepticism comes from having watched Colin Powell before the United Nations referring to intelligence reports from the British secret service, reports that were later proven to be totally fraudulent. The point is, there's no way for a justice to have that evidence tested before him.

With all due respect, our system is not set up for the prosecution to make the case on behalf of the defence. Essentially what Justice Salhany said was that the judge is in an impossible situation because he was never trained to be an investigator like they are in France. His job is what he or she has been trained to do, and that is to have the defence attorney test the evidence put forward by the witnesses for the prosecution. That's one of the most important linchpins in our criminal justice system.

You might say, it's the minister who said this or it's the two ministers who signed off, but the two ministers are not in a position to test any of the information that comes before them. Essentially it breaks all the normal rules that are in place for testing evidence, and this is where it becomes very critical.

As Justice Salhany said, it's unworkable from their perspective. We might suggest that a friend of the court who was a lawyer but was not the prosecution -- because the prosecution obviously has a belief the person is guilty or they would not be proceeding in the first place -- should be there to try to test the evidence. But basically the situation is quite unworkable in the present judicial context. Those where his comments.

The chairman mentioned that testing evidence is very important because you could have a couple of sources come forward who have a grudge against somebody. Unless you can test the evidence these folks provide, then you will never be able to mount a defence. The challenge is to make sure the defendant has the right to test that evidence as much as possible, because it's no use having a lawyer if you don't know what charges you are facing.

(1140)

Mr. Robert Batt: I would agree with Mr. Justice Salhany that the situation is a difficult one. I don't want to agree, with all due respect, that it is unworkable. The legislation I work with, the Immigration Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, were passed by Parliament with the expectation that we would work with it, and that is what we have done.

My understanding is that the legislation was originally passed to deal with a very specific situation -- and I'm talking about the Immigration Act, not the citizenship act -- which was to deal with persons who were inadmissible where their inadmissibility could only be tested or challenged through the use of intelligence. The process Parliament developed, as I understand it, is the process we have in section 77 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, wherein classified intelligence can be used.

I realize it's a difficult situation, but as I said, the European Court of Human Rights has said, given the difficulties, it's one of the best systems in the world; they recommended it to the British, who adopted it.

If you go to the case of Iqbal Singh, which I believe was decided in July of 1998 by Mr. Justice Rothstein, he pointed out that in the course of making his decision in relation to Mr. Iqbal Singh he had before him classified information and he had taken pains to test that information in camera. The judges have an obligation, or they may consider themselves to have an obligation, to test the information.

I agree with you that in camera there are only the government lawyers present. You've indicated that the person doesn't know what he or she is charged with. They are not charged with anything because this is not criminal legislation, it's civil immigration legislation. They do know, for example, that it is alleged that they are a member of a terrorist group or whatever. They don't know the details of the information available to the judge or to the ministers.

I am certainly prepared to agree that there are problems, but I'm also saying that this was a process Parliament devised to deal with that particular situation where you have classified intelligence that can't be released to the public for various reasons.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I can understand why sometimes security forces don't want to release classified information. I'm sure if Secretary of State Colin Powell had to do it over again, he probably wouldn't have made reference to that piece of information. Maybe at the risk of dating myself, I don't think anything more dramatically illustrates the importance of testing evidence than if we think back to the famous American jurist Perry Mason --

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: -- where he took cases and they all rested on his being able to test that evidence. If he had not been able to test that evidence, he would have lost every one of them. That's about as dramatic an illustration as I can get.

We're dealing with citizens. We're not dealing with refugees and we're not dealing with immigrants, we're dealing with people who have acquired citizenship. By proposing a piece of legislation of this sort, what we end up doing is devaluing that citizenship, because your chances of making an error are dramatically increased. God knows, when we have the system at its best, you still have the Guy Paul Morins, the Milgaards, the Marshalls, and maybe the Trustcotts.

This is so fundamental in terms of human rights that we have to tread very carefully. You have to be careful that in giving out information in this kind of hothouse situation in which the security services operate, it doesn't victimize anyone. I can just see it victimizing all sorts of folks, not necessarily because anybody had any bad intent but because the system that was put in place for very important questions to be decided has been short-circuited. That's what this does. Unless you can come up with some better way of safeguarding the very basic rights of individuals, you will continue to have a great deal of opposition to this kind of legislation.

From your viewpoint -- and think about it for a minute as maybe a defence counsel or even a judge -- drawing on your legal experience, how could you try to make sure that the security needs you are concerned about are protected but at the same time that the basic rights of the individual are protected and that you get a better test of evidence in there than you have presently?

(1145)

Mr. Robert Batt: I think I can only reiterate what I've already said, that Parliament in its wisdom created this type of process under the Immigration Act to deal with immigrants and refugees, persons who are not citizens of Canada. The judges make efforts to test in camera the information they have. The individual concerned has a right to present his or her own case in public on the basis of a summary. Whether or not Parliament wants to import that process into the citizenship act is up to Parliament.

The Chair: You keep referring back to IRPA. I'm just wondering -- because of that piece in section 77 and so on, and this is new, as Andrew has said, to the citizenship thing -- are we trying to do something with citizenship we should have done with IRPA? If in fact IRPA is not right or complete because it deals with admissibility or inadmissibility, is that where we should be correcting it?

Some of us have the view that once you've been given citizenship, that takes you to an entirely different level to a certain extent from when you are a permanent resident. It's a privilege to apply for citizenship in this country. When you do acquire citizenship, the hope is that it's given after due process, and then it should be very difficult to take away. Even the Supreme Court of the United States says that citizenship has perhaps the highest value of anything, even over and above property.

So even though we're talking civil matters here, not criminal matters, I'm just wondering whether or not we failed to do something in IRPA technically speaking, and maybe we should look at IRPA as a way of essentially dealing with it as opposed to citizenship, which is after the fact.

You keep referring to Parliament's wisdom or non-wisdom in terms of section 77 of IRPA. I want to test that wisdom, our wisdom.

Mr. Robert Batt: I'll let my colleagues deal with the citizenship issue; that's their field. I'm only familiar with IRPA.

Personally, I wouldn't change IRPA if I had the power. It's a piece of legislation that deals with a very difficult situation. I don't have a better way of dealing with the situation, and in my career I have not heard anybody else propose a better way. As I say, it's acceptable to the European Court of Human Rights and to the British, and the Americans use it in certain procedures. Personally, I wouldn't tamper with section 77 for IRPA, but whether in relation to citizenship, I'll leave it to my colleagues.

The Chair: Even IRPA, between you and me, has an appeal mechanism in a sense that one can refer back to. Take me through this if you could.

If you want to strip someone of their citizenship, does that mean they refer back to being landed before you can get rid of them? I understand what we're trying to do here. We're trying to get rid of the bad guys or girls, real bad people, from Canadian territory and soil, and we're trying to find a way to be able to do this.

IRPA does it now because they're not yet citizens, and therefore we deem them to be inadmissible because they are terrorists, because of organized crime, and so on and so forth -- we've just talked a little bit about the process; that's IRPA. But there is an appeal mechanism even within IRPA and there's a further one in terms of the PRRA, where we won't ship them back to a place where they might be threatened with the loss of their life.

Now, as I understand clause 17, if you strip them of their citizenship, they become inadmissible right away and you're able to deport them, right? The case history in this country has been that we've done this only 26 other times in forty or fifty years.

(1150)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Mr. Chair, I believe your concerns are certainly well founded. What we have looked at under citizenship legislation, what we're proposing, is to look at whether or not the person misrepresented in the first place in order to acquire their citizenship. Their citizenship would be revoked had they misrepresented.

The only way we would be able in this case to show that they misrepresented during the immigration process before ever becoming a citizen would be by using the security certificate. We're using a security certificate to be able to present information. Otherwise, we would present the information in an open system just as in any other revocation case; it's only in those cases where we are unable to present the information except through using the security certificate.

The Chair: Why wouldn't you do that under clause 16, then, which is about misrepresentation and where you did need the security certificate?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: It's exactly the same idea as clause 16 in terms of the regular revocation, where we present information publicly. In the security certificate process, that's only going to be used where we cannot present the information publicly. The only way we could bring the information forward would be in camera, and that's where we will use a security certificate. For all other cases we're dealing with, where the information is public and there's no problem with bringing it forth in a public fashion, we will do so.

In a very small number of cases we may have people who have gotten beyond the limit of IRPA. The person has resided in Canada and acquired their citizenship, and several years have gone by; the information had not been available to us in that initial period of time so we were unable to deal with it through the IRPA process.

We're dealing with people who have acquired citizenship through misrepresentation, and we would be dealing with those people using the security certificate process, the same process with the same rights as under IRPA. There would be no lessening of rights between how they would be dealt with under IRPA and how they would be dealt with under the citizenship legislation. It would be exactly the same.

The Chair: Massimo.

Mr. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Lib.): Thanks, Mr. Chair.

I just have a quick question. Based on your experience, Mr. Batt, are the allegations made usually prepared from foreign sources, local sources, police forces, lawyers -- what types of individuals and sources are they?

Mr. Robert Batt: There can be a number of different sources. There can be human sources, foreign agency information, domestic agency information, telephone intercepts, and that sort of thing. Basically, they can be a mélange of all those types of information.

Mr. Massimo Pacetti: But is there ever a case where it's all foreign information, where we haven't verified it and where we're just basing everything on information about something somebody did somewhere else? Again, it's what we were talking about where somebody has a vendetta; they've prepared a file, they've sent it along, and we've just accepted it as is and taken it for granted.

(1155)

Mr. Robert Batt: I've never seen that happen myself.

Mr. Massimo Pacetti: Do we actually go through and verify the information? Who does that? We're talking about all the secrecy, but we have to understand a little of what goes in these files. We don't have to talk about specifics, but --

The Chair: If you prefer to go in camera to answer that, we can do that at the end of the meeting -- unless you can answer it publicly.

Mr. Robert Batt: I'm just trying to think of a way to answer it without revealing too many secrets.

I appreciate the difficulty you're addressing. I suppose if I were to put myself in the shoes of the minister or the judge, I'd say that to a degree you have to rely on the professionalism of the people who are providing the information and on their ability to assess intelligence, whatever source it comes from. Then you get to the level of the two ministers, and they have to make a judgment as to whether or not they accept the reliability of the agencies that are providing the information; then the judge goes through a testing process as well.

I guess I'm answering it in a roundabout way.

The Chair: We may want to talk a little bit more about this in camera at the end of the meeting just to follow up. I know it's becoming a little difficult in the sense of your being able to disclose certain things, but I'm sure some of us might have some further questions that might in fact put you in an even more difficult position.

Massimo.

Mr. Massimo Pacetti: Does the judge see 100% of the classified information?

Mr. Robert Batt: The judge has all the classified information before him, all the information presented to the ministers.

Mr. Massimo Pacetti: The accused does not?

Mr. Robert Batt: No, the individual does not have the classified information. If you go to any decision, the court has said that as much information must be disclosed to the individual as possible without violating the needs of national security.

The Chair: John.

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): I was a little late coming so I may have missed it. I wonder if you could just review for me the procedures in the United States and Britain, for example, when it comes to security certificates or whatever they do to deal with precisely the situation we're dealing with here. That's where you have somebody who's acquired citizenship and that citizenship has to be challenged on the basis of information that's been acquired through secure intelligence sources. What do they do?

Mr. Robert Batt: I can only tell you about the analogous process dealing with non-citizens. I think somebody else should answer the question in relation to citizens because I don't know the answer.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: If I recall, we don't have specific information in terms of how other countries deal with this kind of security certificate issue in terms of citizenship. We can respond in terms of how they deal with security certificates in immigration issues. I would have to go back and look very carefully at the different ways they deal with revocation matters in situations where they do not wish to reveal information.

Mr. John Bryden: If it's practical to get, I would want to know that information in the case of the United States and Britain, because these are two countries who are close cousins culturally. In terms of welcoming new citizens, perhaps the comparison would be helpful.

The Chair: I thought we had that, but if not, we'll find it.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: What I'll have to do is check again, because up until recently in the United Kingdom they were using the same system we were using in the past, which would have been governor in council, where these things would have been held secret and not released. They've just recently changed their legislation and put in very strict new rules, and they have been addressing legislation in terms of terrorism, etc., and security certificates. I would have to go back and look at all that to try to understand the new processes they may have put in place; I'm not sure.

(1200)

Mr. John Bryden: Let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I'm not unsympathetic to what we're trying to accomplish by clause 17. I think there is a reality out there we have to face, and a sovereign country has the right to control who become citizens and to ensure that those who do become citizens are appropriate people.

It does appear we're on new ground here. I would like to think Canada pioneers for the other countries, but it would be helpful, if it's not too much trouble, just to make the comparisons to these two other countries. I've been following the anti-terrorism legislation in the three countries, and it's most instructive. Really, this is just an extension of that response all western nations are making.

Thank you.

The Chair: We'll get that information, John.

Diane.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Ms. Frith, did I understand you to say that under clause 16 of the proposed new citizenship act the minister would only use these procedures in cases where evidence could not be brought forward in open court?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: It's under clause 17; clause 16 is for all other cases where we can bring forward all of the information to an open court.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Is that mandated in that clause?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Under clause 16 would we be bringing forward all of the information to the open court? Essentially that's how clause 16 is set out; yes, all of the information would be brought forward. It's only under clause 17 we would be referring back to using the security certificate process. Otherwise, it cannot be used; it's only under clause 17 in those special cases.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: And that's clear in the clause.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, it is.

The Chair: Whether it's clear or not is what we're debating now.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Yes, so that's what my question is. Where is it made clear?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: The process under clause 16 is set in the legislation in a way such that if we removed clause 17 completely, clause 16 would stand alone. Clause 17, using the security certificate process, does not have any link to clause 16. Clause 16 is a stand-alone process.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: My question is, where in clause 17 does it restrict the minister's activities to cases where evidence could not be brought forward in open court?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I believe if you look at the definition of information, it says it means “security or criminal intelligence information and information that is obtained in confidence from a source in Canada or from the government of a foreign state, an international --”

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I see that, but I also see subclause 17(2), which says the minister “may sign and refer” a certificate, based on information.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That is correct, because the minister may decide he or she does not agree with the department and with the advice we're providing that the information must be kept secret for the reasons that are laid out in the act. If the minister does not feel comfortable with the information we have put forward, the minister may use clause 16 and go to a fully judicial process, an open process.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: And then he would go back to clause 16.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That is correct.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I just wonder if you would quickly clarify one thing for me. In the documents you provided today on the security certificate, the information we are provided with says that CIC has referred a total of 27 security certificates to the Federal Court for determination since 1989 and that 21 of those were found to be reasonable, three were unreasonable, and three are pending.

Now, an unimpeachable source has come to my attention, otherwise known as the Ottawa Citizen --

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: -- and in an article today it says the following: “It is the only one of nearly 30 certificates issued by the federal government in the past decade to be found unreasonable by a court.”

(1205)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I would also mention that in the Ottawa Citizen it said that the session this morning was being held at 10 o'clock as opposed to 11 o'clock. I only have our own information sources, which I have had checked, double-checked, and triple-checked, and my colleague here can substantiate that we have gone through this over and over again to make absolutely sure we're providing you with the correct information on the number of cases where we used a security certificate.

Now, it may be that there are other, different ways people have dealt with certain items and that they're including those, but it's a total of 27, of which 21 were found reasonable, three were unreasonable -- which for me shows the system worked, where a judge felt, sorry, I don't accept your arguments; it's unreasonable and that cannot be kept secret -- and three are pending decisions.

The Chair: To hold the media responsible, we may call in the Ottawa Citizen as a witness --

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

The Chair: -- and compel them to divulge their sources in public -- or in camera. We'll see.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I must say, I think that's a pretty good record; of 27, only three were found to be unreasonable.

Mr. Robert Batt: In relation to those three, I should point out that two of them involve the husband and wife, and in relation to those two the judge who made the decision said in a later decision that he had made a mistake because he had said that the burden of proof was too high. We don't know what he would have done if he had reheard the case.

Then the third case was the Jaballah decision, which was made in November of 1999. A second certificate was pursued in that case, and that was the decision that was rendered yesterday, where the judge upheld the certificate. So there are peculiar circumstances even if you look at those three quashed certificates.

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Well, that's interesting, and I'm sure the media here who are listening will find that interesting as well.

The Chair: We'll wrap this up with Yvon, because I know there are other clauses we had some questions on.

Yvon.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau (Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, credibility is the central issue. Certain evidence has to be taken into account and the decision on whether to make evidence public involves a compromise between human rights and national security rights. The resulting formula keeps some of the evidence out of the public eye, on the understanding that national security would be jeopardized otherwise. So the individual concerned has to be satisfied with a summary. As members of Parliament, we deal with all sorts of situations, especially in ridings where there are a lot of immigrants or permanent residents.

I feel that there are some problems that need answers. For example, there is a case that comes to mind of an individual whose file I dealt with in the last Parliament. He was a permanent resident and waiting for citizenship. He was a hairdresser.

Mr. Batt's organization was regularly in contact with this person and was trying to obtain information about customers who came to his hair salon. It was all done in a polite and friendly manner, of course. He was told that if he provided assistance, his file might move along, that there was an investigation underway and that if he could provide a little information on this person or that person... He resisted as much as possible. He came to see me and I managed to speak to the agent in charge of his file and to his supervisor. I did not beat around the bush; the harassment stopped and the man obtained his citizenship.

In a situation like that, if the individual gives in to the pressure and provides information on someone, for instance, by saying that he was involved in a certain movement in their country 18 years before and that his brother was imprisoned, then can the judge or the minister who sees this report find out how the information was obtained?

(1210)

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: First of all, I just want to clarify that I'm employed by the Department of Justice, so I'm not in a position to answer issues pertaining to how other agencies do their business.

However, there have been cases I have participated in where individuals who were either witnesses or subjects of the certificates have questioned the methods of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, of Immigration, of the RCMP, or whoever, and this questioning has been brought out in open court. So if somebody wants to question the way information was obtained, they can do it, and it's been done in many cases.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Charbonneau: I am sorry, but it says here that you are legal counsel for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. So there is no way for me to know that you work for the Department of Justice.

I have a second example, Mr. Chairman. Many MPs have had to deal with this kind of situation where information is obtained from foreign sources by our intelligence services. In some countries, they ask questions and they get a report. Police forces and intelligence services that produce these reports use various pieces of information that they put together in the other country. I have seen citizenship applicants and potential immigrants who were the subject of negative reports because 12 years earlier they were arrested at a protest or their brother had been imprisoned or a member of their family had legal problems, but it was all based on the rules in their home country. In some countries, if a person is involved in a political movement that has been declared illegal or that is opposed to the government and if there is a single-party system, they are doomed: they can be locked up without trial for years. In many cases, it is not the person applying that has had the problems, but a member of his or her family, such as a cousin. There are many Mohammeds in some countries and it turns out to be the person's cousin. Here in Ottawa, the feeling is that there is a risk involved because someone in that family has had a run-in with the law.

Is the decision that is made here by officials, a judge or, at the end of the line, a minister, based on Canadian standards of rights and freedoms, or do we use the standards in the country of origin as interpreted by the police in that country, which in many cases is a dictatorship? Do we stand back and look at the situation as Canadians, or do we simply take what the police in the other country tell us without questioning it? It would be reassuring to be told that we do stand back and take a Canadian perspective. But if we take it for granted that the foreign police forces in countries with dictatorships are telling us the truth most of the time, that is very worrisome because we are rubber-stamping the decision of police forces in those regimes. I want to know how things work in their system, since there are people asking us these questions in our offices.

[English]

Mr. Robert Batt: Well, in the cases I've been in, the counsel who have represented the individual's concern have generally pressed upon the presiding Federal Court judge to weigh the information very carefully. They've pointed out the problems the member of the committee has alluded to and have asked that the judge consider that fact.

I also believe that there have been at least a couple of cases where members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have testified. On this issue they've publicly indicated that they do have an assessment process whereby they do weigh the information that comes from different countries and from different sources. They do not necessarily take everything at face value.

Perhaps that answers part of the question -- to the best of my ability.

There are other aspects of the question you raise. Of course, in Canada nobody is obliged to speak to the intelligence agency, which does not have any compulsive powers. And of course, there's also a complaints process, the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and in relation to the RCMP, the Public Complaints Commission, to which persons can bring their complaints about the behaviour of either of these organizations if warranted.

(1215)

The Chair: I'll just ask two final questions and then we'll move on.

Mr. Batt, you've had some experience with SIRC, that particular committee; how would that be a different process from the procedure we're looking at? Perhaps somebody could shed some light on that. The SIRC committee reviews intelligence information and its source and is a forum, I think, that is more open to the testing of the information because there's more than one particular person, a judge; other people are in fact allowed to participate in the SIRC process. I'm just wondering whether or not, one, you have any experience with that, and second, if you do, can you tell us what the difference is between that system and the one we've been talking about for the past hour?

Mr. Robert Batt: I haven't had any experience before the Security Intelligence Review Committee in relation to the immigration process. I have been involved in cases where persons have complained to the Security Intelligence Review Committee about material that has been provided to Immigration by the service. But basically the process is analogous in the sense that you appear before one member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and that individual is able to review classified intelligence, again, in the absence of the individual.

If you look at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, it says all hearings are private, and that's a privacy protection vis-à-vis the individual who's bringing the complaint. The individual may be there for part of the process, but the individual may also be asked to leave when the member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee wants to discuss issues pertaining to classified intelligence. In that sense the process as I know it is analogous.

I participated in another situation where an individual lost their security clearance within the government of Canada, and that process again is analogous. The individual may appear and make representations and present evidence, but when the member is dealing with classified evidence, the individual is not present.

The Chair: A defence lawyer can, as we understand it, attend the SIRC hearing.

Mr. Robert Batt: Oh, yes, just the same as in the Federal Court. The individual will be there --

The Chair: That's what I mean. So there is an adversarial sort of system in there as opposed to the one we've been talking about, where defence is not.

Mr. Robert Batt: Well, I don't want to misunderstand you. We go into the hearing with me there representing the service or the minister who's removed somebody's security classification. The individual is there with his or her lawyer, but if we come to a point where classified information is discussed, the individual and his or her lawyer both leave, and I am left there with the member of the committee and the classified information. So I don't see a difference between the two processes.

The Chair: You don't see a third lawyer present who's neither prosecution nor defence?

Mr. Robert Batt: The committee has its own lawyer. There is a legal person advising the committee.

The Chair: Lastly, let's take a naturalized citizen. They came here and were on good behaviour for three years, became a citizen, but became a member of a terrorist organization or an organized crime group, as heinous as anybody else. Now, we would deal with that person through the criminal courts as opposed to the civil courts. We couldn't take his citizenship away but would deal with it on a criminal basis.

So the question must be asked, why not deal with someone else we've conferred citizenship on the same way, someone who is as heinous as the naturalized Canadian who became a terrorist or organized crime person? We would test them in the criminal court of law with a standard of burden or whatever and then throw them in jail as opposed to getting rid of them and having to deal with them that way. How would you describe that sort of example?

(1220)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: With difficulty. The whole purpose of having any kind of revocation process in place is to ensure people acquire their citizenship without any misrepresentation but through honesty.

Our whole system for citizenship -- our system -- resides on the fact that most people, the very large majority, are honest and that they have every opportunity to answer the questions in an honest way when the questions are put to them on their eligibility. Should they not do so, then they will be subject to --

The Chair: So, Rosaline, the bottom line is, we really don't care whether or not they're terrorists or belong to a terrorist organization or organized crime. The only thing we're interested in is whether or not they actually misrepresented the fact: you misrepresented the fact that you were a terrorist or in organized crime, so we're going to strip you of your citizenship, we're going to get rid of you, and if someone wants to bring a criminal action against you somewhere, somehow, that's their business. Essentially all we want to do is pursue misrepresentation for a very narrow category of those we suspect are very bad people. Essentially that's what it is.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That's absolutely correct for those under the security certificate process, yes.

The Chair: Well, I'm sure we'll debate this further.

We're into the next round. John.

Mr. John Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'd like to bring the committee back to a debate we had when these witnesses were before us with respect to paragraph 3(g) and clause 21 of the bill, where the phrase “free and democratic society” is used as a description of what we should be looking for in citizenship and as a test for denying people citizenship.

Ms. Frith testified at that time that “free and democratic society” was presented to officials on the advice of the justice department, who based the use of “free and democratic society” on a Supreme Court decision. I believe it was in the R. v. Oakes case in which the Supreme Court defined “free and democratic society”.

Now, if the committee will just indulge me for a moment, the Supreme Court was interpreting section 1 of the charter, and I'll just read it very quickly here: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Then the charter goes on to describe those freedoms and democratic rights.

The important thing to bear in mind here is that “free and democratic society” is a phrase used in the preamble that the courts interpreted; it's not an interpretation in law. What the court actually said in that decision was: “The Court must be guided by the values and principles essential to a free and democratic society which I believe embody, to name but a few....” Then the judge went on to say “respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, commitment to social justice” and so forth, which is precisely what Ms. Frith submitted.

Now, I submit to you, my colleagues, and to the witnesses that these are very weak grounds on which to base the fundamental principles of a citizenship act. To base it on the Supreme Court's interpretation of a phrase, a personal interpretation that is open-ended -- because, as I point out, the judge has said “to name but a few”, so there obviously could be many other interpretations put on a “free and democratic society” -- I think plays into the argument we heard from other witnesses that these two clauses were far too open and should be actually defined in law.

Instead of the words “free and democratic society”, we should define those values by replacing “free and democratic society” with the words “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does define in law our democratic values and our basic respect for freedoms.

What I'm going to suggest, Mr. Chairman, is that I submit a letter -- I have prepared it but don't have it in translation right now, I regret to say -- at the next meeting of the committee so these arguments can be read by my colleagues in detail. I assure them I will be presenting two amendments to this committee based on that.

(1225)

The Chair: First of all, John, I think we're more than indulgent, we're supportive of what you've just indicated. Now, how we get to where we want to go may vary in terms of future amendments, but we look forward to it.

As you know, on Thursday we will begin to talk a little bit about settlement, but more important, we're going to huddle in camera and see where we're all coming from on a whole host of areas. I'm sure clauses 21 and 22 will be discussed.

But, Rosaline, you can answer John's question. It may be too broad, with the majority of people saying it's so broad you can drive a whole bunch of trucks through this thing. Then some people, including the administration, have said right from the beginning, this is just about getting the hate-mongers and nothing else. And then we had a whole bunch of people who said, perhaps we ought to define what these democratic values and principles we're so proud of are all about. So there are three options we're going to talk about.

Either you narrow it down as to what you want to do -- and that's to catch the hate-mongers, the sexual predators, and anybody else we want to -- or you modify it because this is too broad and because nobody can define what democratic values are. It sounds good. The Supreme Court obviously is very wise in picking those terms, but there's no definition in here that tries to define it other than what we feel about our country.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I do believe, Mr. Chair, we put forward language we thought -- we still feel -- has a fairly stringent limitation, given the Supreme Court justice's expression of “a free and democratic society”. I won't repeat it for you.

The Chair: You're going to allow us to use our creative talents.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: However, I will repeat that the charter lays out our rights and freedoms. It does not lay out our principles and values; it is based on the principles and values that underlie our free and democratic society. I think we could argue on that until we're blue in the face; again, I think we've all had the discussion.

It is true one could decide to limit clause 21 to a specific number of cases. The problem with limiting clause 21 is that should something else come up that definitely is offensive to the principles that underlie a free and democratic society, it will not be captured in that limited expression.

The Chair: Thank you.

John, you're up next.

Mr. John Bryden: I'm sorry, Ms. Frith, I just have to draw your attention to what the justice has said. He said “The Court must be guided by the values and principles essential to a free and democratic society which I believe embody, to name but a few ....” Now, I would suggest to you that this is wide open, and it's not as narrow as you'd like. I realize you like all of the opportunities in the world -- at least the lawyers like all the opportunities in the world -- but I would like to narrow it down to the principles and values embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so we know precisely where we are.

But I will leave that point. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to just switch my questioning to the oath that's in Bill C-18, because I have --

The Chair: Are you going to read it for us, your new one?

Mr. John Bryden: Oh, no, Mr. Chairman, but I do wish to make the connection between the arguments that are presented on paragraph 3(g) and clause 21 and the observation, again, that the language in the proposed oath in the schedule is very wide open too: “to faithfully observe our laws and fulfil my duties and obligations as a Canadian citizen.” Again, this is wide open, because of course the danger is that a government could come into power that may change the law and may create laws that are contrary to the principles embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I point out to you this is the experience of many countries around the world that have experienced dictatorships or this kind of thing, and it is not sufficient simply to say that citizens should be enjoined to obey the law. This was precisely the issue that occurred at Nuremberg, where one of the basic defences of the people on trial was that they were obeying the law.

I point out to you, Mr. Chairman, for those who don't remember that little item of history, the Nuremberg trials were the war crime trials that followed the Second World War. I wonder if the witnesses would have any comment on those observations.

You can say no.

(1230)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That would be difficult for me.

I take your point. I've said it before and I will say it again, we've gone to great effort to try to come up with an oath that captures what most Canadians would feel comfortable with. Observing our laws is certainly something Canadians feel comfortable with and something we would want newcomers, new Canadians, to also observe. If I were to walk around this room and ask everybody for their version of what the oath should be, I would get a different version from every single person. We've come up with this one by consulting people and by trying to put together the best wording we could find.

Mr. John Bryden: With all respect to the witness, you didn't answer the thrust of my question -- which is fine. I appreciate that there was a process of consultation. I also appreciate the wording you have reflects other oaths around the world. It's the standard wording, certainly among Commonwealth countries, and it is certainly non-controversial and inoffensive.

I will submit, Mr. Chairman, that this committee can, I hope, endeavour to do better.

The Chair: When we get to this part, I'm going to have music in the background so we can all get inspired and motivated. I'm looking for your words.

Andrew.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Ms. Frith, I wonder if you could go to the revocation process and the numbers you provided in your document. Now, you make reference that since 1995 you have revoked the citizenship of 32 persons; 17 cases went to the Federal Court, and 15 were not referred to the court. Are those 15 just people who left voluntarily?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Those 15 people did not contest the case brought against them that they had committed a misrepresentation, and their citizenship was revoked. In some cases it may have been only to do with their eligibility in terms of the criteria for citizenship. In some cases it might have referred all the way back to a situation where they misrepresented on their immigration.

So they would not all have left the country voluntarily. All they did was agree that they had misrepresented, and their citizenship was revoked. That would have been the first step.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: You mention that only five cases were related to World War II.

(1235)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Five of the 32 that were revoked; that is correct.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: What happened to the ones who died in the process of litigation?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Are you asking me, was their citizenship revoked if they died during the process?

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No. Some people were before the courts and they died during the process. Those aren't reflected in these numbers, are they?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I would have to go back to my detailed notes. I know that when their citizenship was revoked, some people out of the five died after their citizenship was revoked, but that only happened afterwards. There was one individual who in fact died before court proceedings finished, and I haven't counted that in the information I gave you because citizenship was not revoked in that case.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Because I think it says something important, I wonder if for the committee you could perhaps provide a better breakdown in a memo to us. I think it's important, particularly when we're trying to reflect on the cost.

Now, you referred to five World War II cases, and it seems to me we had a lot more than that, so I would like to have you check on that again.

The next question I have relates to the second page of your second part, where under “Citizenship and Immigration” you refer to cases related to World War II criminals. I would like you to provide us with the names of those World War II criminals because I'm having difficulty. Justice MacKay in his rulings referred to people who had no war crimes charged against them at all, and he did not find them guilty of any war crimes. I want to know how you come to label somebody as a war criminal; I think it would be useful for the committee to have for our deliberations.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Mr. Telegdi, I apologize. That should not have read “related to WWII criminals”. I apologize. I will have this document corrected.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Can you tell us why you are apologizing.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Because I should not have allowed this to get by me. I signed off on this document, I submitted the document, but I made a mistake.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: The problem I have had when I've been dealing with this whole issue is, people are forever being referred to as having committed war crimes, of having been involved in Nazi atrocities. I think we all agree in this committee that the last people we want to be Canadian citizens are people who have been guilty of war crimes. I've seen this language flowing through the years when I've looked at various reports that have come out of the revocation section of the department.

What we have done is, we have essentially tarred people. I really appreciate the fact that now you are telling us that a mistake was made, because one of the problems we have is, of course, when you tar people, then you can expect that harsher treatment will be applied against them. I don't think there is anybody in Canadian society who agrees that war criminals should be present in this country.

So I think it's very commendable, Ms. Frith, and I much appreciate your comments on it.

The Chair: Maybe, Rosaline, you could just explain something to me, because now I'm a little confused as you start to get into numbers from the bottom of page 1 to the top of page 2, just so I understand it. You said:

Since 1995 the government has started 15 WWII related revocation cases. The government has had eight successes to date (5 revocations; 3 cases with a positive federal court decision and revocation is being considered). Three cases are now in court. One individual died before the Court proceedings finished. Three of 15 defendants have been successful.

What does that mean, three of 15 defendants? It's just a little confusing here.

(1240)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: If I go through my information and give you the full information, what I have are five World War II cases where citizenship has been revoked. In three of those cases the revocation took place after a Federal Court decision was made, and in two other cases the respondents did not contest the information and revocation proceeded.

As to citizenship being obtained through deceit, I have other cases that have been determined by the court, three cases of citizenship being obtained through misrepresentation, and in those cases we have the Federal Court decision.

I have three other revocation cases that are now before the Federal Court, where no decision has yet been rendered, so this far I've told you about 11 cases. I have three other cases where the defendants were successful in arguing their case and they were not revoked. That brings me to a total of 14.

I have one individual who died before court proceedings were finished, and that brings me to a total of 15; that's my total of the 15 cases we have followed through.

The Chair: Those are all those cases that have gone through the Federal Court, and then if the ruling is negative, of course, they're then appealable to the governor in council, right? That's our existing system now, the governor in council.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That is correct.

The Chair: We go through the Federal Court first. If there's a problem there, then they go to the governor in council. Can you tell me the stats on what the governor in council has done with cases?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: In all of the five cases I mentioned where I said citizenship has been revoked, it was revoked by the governor in council, based upon the Federal Court decision. In the first three cases I mentioned we had a decision from the Federal Court and then citizenship was revoked by GIC. In the case of the two other citizenship revocations, where the respondents did not contest, we did not have to go through the Federal Court step before referring to governor in council for revocation.

The Chair: I just have a second question, and then I'll go back to Andrew here for a second one.

With respect to Citizenship and Immigration, you talk about an annual budget of just $500,000 that was “costs incurred by the Department of Justice and invoiced to CIC for litigating revocation cases related to WWII criminals”. Is that the section you wanted to correct?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That's correct. Where it says “related to WWII criminals”, it should have said “related to WWII cases”, not “criminals”.

The Chair: Well, I find that amount of $500,000 to be awfully small.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: It is only the amount for those expenses that were charged back to the department from Justice.

The Chair: I'm just trying to add up all those things. We're talking about somewhere about $22 million to $24 million for both DOJ and Citizenship and Immigration to deal with these thirty-something cases since 1995.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: No. I am going to ask Lynn to explain because she's gone through and tried to put together the numbers for you. It goes beyond just the World War II cases.

Ms. Lynn Lovett (Acting Deputy Director, Senior Counsel, War Crimes Unit, Department of Justice): Good morning, Mr. Chairman.

If I could, I'll just maybe give some more precise information. The budget figures that are set out reflect the work that's done by the Department of Justice for both modern war crimes and World War II-related cases. Those moneys as they're set out there are spent both on investigations and on cases that actually see court, so the numbers are not specifically applicable only to revocation court cases.

(1245)

The Chair: Andrew.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I look forward to getting that report, which better reflects the work of the committee. If I look at the first page and add up all the numbers correctly, we're talking about $27.84 million, which is a lot of money, considering the number of cases. I know there are more cases as I reflect back on some of the reports I had on the War Crimes Unit, and I'd like to have all those numbers included.

The next question I have is, this whole process is set in place to ultimately get the person deported out of the country; could you tell us how many people have we successfully removed from Canada through the court process?

That's people removed through the court process, not the ones who maybe decided they didn't want to contest this because they didn't think the system was fair, so they packed up and left because they didn't want to go bankrupt trying to defend themselves. In the Odynsky case we heard from a family in Toronto as to how ruinous it was for the family, emotionally as well as financially.

How many people have we successfully sent out of the country after they were stripped of their citizenship?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: We will certainly try to get that information for you.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I don't think there are any. Anyway, I'd like to get a response back on this; I would like to check on it.

The Chair: Lynn, did you have something to add?

Ms. Lynn Lovett: On the question of how many people have been deported out of the country following revocation of their citizenship in the event they actually did contest the revocation process, for the moment the answer is none, that's correct: zero. Some individuals have died during the course of their deportation hearing, so the deportation process was commenced and not finished because the person died during the process.

The other question you raised I could answer in part, and you can tell me whether I'm giving you a complete answer. You mentioned that there were actually more than 15 cases that have been publicly reported on. While it's true that in our annual report we talk about having commenced 19 cases since 1995, four of those cases were for non-citizens and 15 cases actually applied to citizens. So the total is 19, of which 15 were for citizenship revocation and four were for non-citizens. That's why the numbers are as they are set out here.

Your question was actually about revocation, so we attempted to answer the specific question you had asked.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: I still have big trouble with the figure of five, but anyway, I'm sure you will check on that.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: There is no need to check on it. The numbers we are providing you are correct.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: So you're saying that you only had five World War II cases?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That have had citizenship revoked, yes.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, because you say 27 were non-World War II cases and five were World War II cases. When I add those up it comes to 32. Now, I dare to suggest that there are more than five that were World War II cases, and I want you to check that and report back to the committee.

(1250)

Ms. Lynn Lovett: I'd like to be able to clarify it now if possible, because there's really nowhere I can check.

Fifteen World War II-related citizenship revocation cases have been started since 1995.Three have had citizenship revoked following a positive Federal Court decision; two respondents did not contest and their citizenship was revoked by the governor in council; that's five.

In another three the court has made a positive decision that the citizenship was obtained by deceit, and the next steps are underway; in other words, the governor in council has not yet made a decision. Now I'm up to eight.

Then we have three that are currently before the courts, and no decision has yet been made -- I'm up to 11 -- and three where the defendants were successful. They took their cases to Federal Court and they won; it was decided that they didn't obtain their citizenship by fraud. And then there's one where the individual died while the case was before the court, so the total comes to 15.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Now I understand. What I don't understand is the first page, under “Background” and “Number”, where it says “Since 1995, CIC has revoked the citizenship of 32 persons: 17 cases were referred to the Federal Court and 15 were not referred to the Court. 27 were non WWII cases and 5 were WWII cases.” What I'm saying is, by your admission that should be 15.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: There are 15 cases we have dealt with; there are only five cases where their citizenship has been revoked.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, that's not what it says.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: It says, “CIC has revoked the citizenship of 32 persons”. Of those, 27 were non-World War II cases and five were World War II cases. That adds up to 32. Those are the only cases where we have revoked. We have many other cases in the system.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, what I'm saying is that it's not correct to say there are only five World War II cases because, as was just pointed out, five World War II cases were revoked and three are before cabinet, which makes it eight --

Ms. Rosaline Frith: They are not revoked yet.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: No, but it doesn't say “revoked” here.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, it does. I beg to differ.

The Chair: I must admit, though, it's not as clear as it could be. You say it a lot better than you print it; therefore, somebody has to do the recalculation. I think it's pretty clear now, and I think when you look at the blues, you'll find out.

Before we wrap up, I just need to cover two areas I think are important to us.

One is with regard to residency, and I know, Rosaline, you just gave us this. I think in your preamble this afternoon you again talked a bit about this so-called attachment to Canada and how one defines physical presence. Some people have said the least you can do, then, is use the definition in IRPA -- not the numbers, because IRPA, as we know, is two and five in order to maintain your permanent resident status. At least there are some exceptions, such as someone accompanying a Canadian citizen spouse or, if a minor, a parent outside Canada, being employed full-time by a Canadian business, and so on and so forth.

My point is that we seem to be very liberal with IRPA -- which I like, the term and what we're doing -- but on citizenship, which means that these people have already been here.... Let's face it, the only hurdle they have to do now they've been here as permanent residents, the next step, is that after you've gotten here, qualified, and maintained your residency, you should be able to prove you have an attachment to Canada. In some cases people don't automatically apply after three years, 1,095 days. In fact, some people have been here five, six, eight, or ten years before they make a decision.

My point is, why would we be so restrictive on the citizenship side yet be so liberal on the landed immigrant side? I'm not talking about changing the numbers, but at least accept the fact that when you are residing to qualify to become a citizen, in some cases you may have to go somewhere for family or business reasons and you may have to be away from the country. Why would we be so punitive with regard to getting citizenship when there's less of a bar for landed immigrants?

There's an inconsistency there that just doesn't jive with me. All of our witnesses have said, why are you making it so difficult? There are other ways with respect to physical presence to determine a person's attachment to our country.

(1255)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I believe the bill is based on the idea that it's important for people to form an attachment to Canada. You've just stated that very clearly, and that's something we both agree on, that it's very important for people to demonstrate their attachment to Canada.

The way that has been chosen in the bill to demonstrate that attachment to Canada is through a period of physical presence in Canada. That allows people to participate in their community. It allows them, if they have children, to participate in activities with their children. It allows people to form an attachment to their community, and that is not something that is easily formed if you're not living in that community.

The Chair: Your family and children are there, but you may not be there.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That is the beauty of citizenship legislation. In fact, the family that is residing in Canada can go ahead and acquire their citizenship. There would be no bar to them because citizenship applies to individuals as opposed to the whole family.

The Chair: But not their spouses? That sounds absolutely ridiculous.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: The difference is that when you come as an immigrant and you need to have a presence in order to maintain your status as a permanent resident, then the potential consequence of not maintaining your status is very strong because you could be removed from Canada.

The Chair: Let me give you an example, though. Sometimes we get carried away in theories as opposed to the example we've been trying to use.

I come with my wife and kids to Canada. I'm a permanent resident; I qualify, I'm not a terrorist, I don't belong to organized crime, and I've gone through the whole probationary stuff. You know, I'm connected to my community, my kids are going to school, and so on. But while I'm waiting to become a citizen, all of a sudden I'm called away for two, three, four, or five months because my poor mother needs me or my business needs me. But my family stays here. I've bought a house, I'm paying taxes -- God knows, I'm paying taxes to the country -- and making all kinds of contributions.

My next question will be about administrative expediency, of course. If I say physical presence and I have to sign a document that says I was actually physically present 1,095 days, I don't need a judge, I don't need anybody. All I need is someone in the administration to say, I can check that you've been here 1,095 days.

My example is that if I have to leave for three or four months. You are telling me that my family can go and get their citizenship before I can because I happen to have been away three, four, or five months. Now, how ridiculous does that sound? Maybe it doesn't to the administration, but it does to me.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I would tend to say that acquiring three years' residency out of six years should not normally cause undue hardship to a person. That means that you are in the country for six months of each year. It means you may have been away for three years running, but you were in the country for the other three years and you did form an attachment. You would meet the requirements of the bill and you would get your citizenship. So we're talking about three years out of six.

It may be, though, that your spouse and children have acquired their three years much more quickly than you have. If they chose to go ahead and get their individual citizenship, they could do so because they would be treated as individuals.

The consequence of not being able to go ahead and get your citizenship as quickly as the rest of your family is simply that you are unable to get your Canadian passport. It doesn't mean you are being removed from the country. It does not have the same consequences as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. So the bill offers a great deal of flexibility by setting out three years out of a six-year period at your choice.

(1300)

The Chair: Okay, I'm not going to convince you. I'll have to convince my committee colleagues when we come to that amendment.

Could I just ask, then, about the process just so we understand how it goes. In the last section you say that at any given time 140,000 applications are being processed for citizenship, and you give us this chart that shows what's happening. Maybe you can go through this again just so I can get it clear.

When a person applies, they prove they meet the qualification with 1,095 days; nothing changes there. It goes to Sydney, Nova Scotia; Sydney takes a look at it, and they make sure everything is in place, the documentation, identity, and so on. They may request some additional information. Then it goes to the local office, at which point they are told to come in for a language test of some sort because they met the residency requirement, on which there's no test unless someone wants to challenge it, as I take it. Near the bottom it says citizenship court judges are essentially making a decision on -- according to this thing, if I understand it -- one out of eight or one out of ten cases, roughly speaking. Is that all of the cases the judges are actually looking at, because most of them qualify?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: The judges look at every case, so in fact they sign off on each case. However, the judge only interviews a very small number of people. Not everybody needs to sit with the judge and have a discussion about whether or not they're actually meeting their residence requirement. Or they have not done well on their test, and they have a chance to speak with the judge about that as well. So only a small number are interviewed.

The Chair: But the judge takes a look at every application.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That is correct.

The Chair: And that's a third person, a technically independent person of the administration who doesn't work for you.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That's correct.

The Chair: He works for us -- for the minister, so to speak.

I also find it incredible that in some cases, including in my own community, we're waiting nine months from the time you apply for citizenship to the time you can actually get your certificate at a ceremony. Can you just tell me, based on the new administrative system you want to put in place, what are the objectives of the administration in terms of people's expectations? How long it should take?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I can't give you a precise figure on exactly how long it will take because that would not be honest of me.

What I can say is that there will be certain steps that will be removed from the system, which should make it more streamlined and allow it to go more quickly. In other words, in 95% of the cases, let's say, where everything has been met and there is no need for an interview, those ones will immediately process through to a grant of citizenship. There will be no need to have the citizenship judge review all of the material and sign off on the material because it has already been reviewed and it's already been shown to meet all of the criteria. We would be removing that step from the process.

The Chair: How long do you think that takes in the process? You're not going to be replacing those judges with other administrative people. You have more than enough people to do the work. If I look here, it says 77% were processed within nine months in 2001-02 and 52% were processed within nine months in 2000-01. I'm just wondering, you're telling me you have all the administration you need?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That's not what I have said. We will be adding additional staff in the regions to be dealing with those people who have to be interviewed to try to make that process go as quickly as possible.

The Chair: In other words, other than judges now, we're going to be hiring administrative people to do the same thing the judges are doing, right?

(1305)

Ms. Rosaline Frith: The citizenship judges will be taking on different duties.

The Chair: They're going to promote and they're going to wave the flag and all that sort of stuff. Yes, I understand that.

I'd like to know how much time we are going to save by taking away that one step you were talking about in terms of people and/or resources.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: By taking that step away we will save the time that is involved in actually reviewing every one of those cases. The other result of changing to a new process is that everything will be determined in an objective fashion, and that will allow us to go through the individual files much more quickly.

As I said, I don't have a figure on the tip of my tongue where I can say to you exactly how many days or weeks that will remove from the system. What I can say is that some of the things, things we will be able to work on and address more quickly to reduce time, hopefully, have to do with the checks with respect to criminality and all the various steps in the system where we have not been able to move as quickly as we would like.

When we have had conflicts, where we have citizenship judges who have to do actual ceremonies as opposed to sitting in an office and doing decision making, we will be changing that system. It will go more quickly, but I cannot tell you by how much.

The Chair: Somebody is going to have to do that ceremony. We're not going to be mailing out citizenship cards.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: That's correct.

The Chair: If it's not a judge, it's going to be an administrative person.

Rosaline, I've done my homework here. It's just like when you send a judge to a school to do promotion or to give a talk; you don't expect him to do any of the administrative work. Who do you think is going to accompany that judge? Or do you think that essentially they're just going to go by themselves and show up at the school, that they're not going to need any support, and that nobody is going to have to do all of that support work, arranging when this person -- we're not even calling them a judge -- or this commissioner is going to go there? It's not going to take any administrative staff?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: We have new administrative staff, Mr. Fontana, to deal with those issues aside from the new promotional --

The Chair: I know. You're going to be replacing judges with other administrative staff. I know that. I'm trying to see whether or not this system is actually going to, one, save time, and two, save money.

The objective criteria are one, residency -- and that's going to be cleared up because we're going to talk about physical presence, that's what you wanted -- and two, language, which is language testing. We do that now. Will we do that later?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Yes, we will.

The Chair: So that doesn't change; everybody gets a test.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Everyone will get a test, possibly. That's something where we could in the future be moving to other ways of looking at test results. Obviously, someone who has been attending courses in English or in French for several years in Canada may already demonstrate an ability in language and not require being tested.

The Chair: An administration person will have to make that determination. Right now administration gives them a test. They are asked to show up at a certain time to write a test or to answer some questions to show whether or not they have either English or French.

Last, it's about knowledge of Canada. Again, that is done by administration people. They write a test with 20 questions, you have to get 12 out of 20, and two questions are a must. That's an administrative function that doesn't change, except that if you fail it, you can appeal to the judge on the basis of knowledge of Canada.

I'm wondering about these new objective criteria you're talking about. The only one that really is different is the residency requirement of physical presence and the fact that a judge is not going to have to review all of those applications and sign off. That's where we're going to save all the time, on residency and looking over those files.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: Those are the two major areas, yes.

(1310)

The Chair: How many more people are you going to hire to do all this work?

Ms. Rosaline Frith: I cannot remember the exact number. I would have to submit that to you. I have as yet to receive final approval from the Treasury Board on that.

The Chair: I wouldn't mind knowing that because I'll tell you right now, we have 23 judges, of whom five are only part-time and 18 work on a per diem basis. I take it that all of these administrative people we're going to be hiring are going to be permanent employees, not paid on a per diem basis and not paid on a part-time basis. Is that right? I'd like to have that calculation before we make our decision as to whether or not we move to an administrative system or something where an independent judge can make that determination.

Madeleine.

[Translation]

Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: When you asked how much time it would take, I answered that it would take one year. That is what I wanted to say. The time period would be extended, not shortened.

[English]

The Chair: Merci.

Andrew.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: The thing about going from a judicial-based system to an administrative-based system is, right now when the judge says, you are a Canadian citizen, then you are a Canadian citizen. Under this system you could say administratively that someone is a Canadian citizen, but what if five or ten years down the road we find out that this person who was supposedly in the country for 1,095 days was down in Florida for two months? Instead of 1,095 days, that person was really in the country for 1,035 days. Then the question becomes, are we going to revoke their citizenship? Was the misrepresentation fraudulent? Was relevant information withheld?

The reason I throw this in is, with the judicial process now, once citizenship is granted, end of story on that question. With the new system, if somebody is found out to have been two months short of 1,095 days, then one could proceed with an action against that person to revoke his or her citizenship because a misrepresentation was made or a material circumstance was withheld, the material circumstance being that you didn't have a physical presence in the country of 1,095 days.

That is one of the problems we might end up having with a switch to this kind of system.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: The current system is in that sense exactly the same as the envisaged system; there is no difference whatsoever. If a person misrepresents today in terms of his or her residency, then we can take that person through the system for revocation exactly the same way as in the future system. The difference is that physical presence has a definition in the legislation that is proposed, whereas it does not have a clear definition in the current legislation.

That causes us the problem of subjective decisions, which adds to the overall cost of the system. That is an area where we expect to save considerably in the long term in terms of having to take cases to court because no longer will there be a subjective decision on whether something did or did not in fact meet the criteria for citizenship as set out in the legislation for meeting.

Mr. Andrew Telegdi: With respect to the questions the chair raised on what physical presence is, under the present process the judge will say, well, I consider your physical presence acceptable even though you were down in Florida, because you were working and making money to provide for your family back home or you were on vacation. That question is closed once citizenship is granted.

Ms. Rosaline Frith: It is not closed once citizenship is granted. It can be opened through the courts. If the minister decides that citizenship was not properly granted, then that case can be reopened through the courts.

The Chair: Those are the annulment provisions, which we --

Ms. Rosaline Frith: One would be appealing the judge's decision.

The Chair: Well, I guess we'd better be telling everybody, God help you if you should put on your application that you didn't go to Florida for a two-week vacation or a month's vacation or so on and so forth. The administration might like that dehumanizing sort of situation; it makes it much easier. I tend to think that becoming a citizen is a very human experience.

I'll tell you right now, if these had been the rules, my father would never have gotten here because his language three years or five years after we came in 1954 wasn't perfect. But a judge said, it's good enough for me, and my father stayed in Canada and contributed for 45 years. The fact is, he may have had to go back to see his mother in Italy for a month or two, and you know what? I don't know if he lied on his application.

I'm not sure those are the kinds of people whose citizenship we want to either revoke, annul, or even deny, for that matter. Again, I think it's the greatest gift a country can give to a person, but I also think it's the greatest gift a person can give to a country.

And so we look forward to our clause-by-clause next week.

John.

(1315)

Mr. John Bryden: Just before the chairman makes his closing remarks, I'll mention that I do recall that when this group of witnesses came before us, there was an expression of concern that maybe the committee members were not all on the same side on this. People will see that there are strong views held among us here, both those who sit on the committee and the witnesses who have come before us.

But I wish to say that I've enjoyed and respected the testimony we've received from the officials. I would like it on record that I for one -- and I think I speak for all of us -- feel that we are very much on the same side; we are trying to find a way to create a bill that does express an appreciation not only for citizenship per se but for the people who acquire that citizenship.

And finally, I would just like to say to you, Mr. Chairman, that I'm going to truly miss, when all is done, the measured and patient responses we have heard from Ms. Frith. I know of a lake in the early morning, and I can assure you that long after this is over it will occasionally remind me of her measured tone in response to no matter what I say.

So I thank you, Ms. Frith; I think you've done an excellent job, and I hope you don't have to go through this experience again -- for a while, anyway.

The Chair: This has only been the third time for Rosaline. She's getting used to it. You're absolutely right, John, and I know you wanted to make sure you said it just in case I didn't.

We do appreciate it, and of course the tough slugging will come when we have Rosaline here for the clause-by-clause study of the bill. As you can see, we're really passionate about this. I think what has inspired John as much as all of us is the fact that when you talk to the citizens across the country as we did, you find they really do value citizenship and everything this country stands for in a very personal way.

So I think some of the things we're asking and some of the things we've talked about are a reflection of how much Canadians value their citizenship. As I indicated, by birth or by choice they want to be, hopefully, one and the same people. That's important to the integration, the settlement, and so on we do. We're all working together, as John said, to hopefully come up with the best bill possible, and we're going to do that work next week.

I wonder about something, though. On Thursday morning, when we talk a little bit about settlement, we're going to be talking amongst ourselves as to where we're going to go with the bill. I know the government has some technical amendments and some other considerations we might want to take a look at. I'd like to bring them forward because I know Diane, Libby, Madeleine, and Inky....

In fact, he has not forgotten about us at all; he has some amendments of his own. He's been keeping on. He may not be physically here, but he is in spirit still a member and a good member of our committee. He has some possible amendments.

So we're going to be looking at each other's stuff on Thursday, including those the administration and the minister are considering.

So thank you very much once again to all of you for your contribution, and to the justice department, Robert, thank you very much. I think it was very helpful to have you here today.