Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration hearings
on Bill C-18, the proposed Citizenship of Canada Act
Members of the Committee present: Sarkis Assadourian, John Bryden, Yvon Charbonneau, Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral, Joe Fontana, John O'Reilly, Massimo Pacetti.
Other member present: Andrew Telegdi.
In attendance from the Library of Parliament: Benjamin Dolin (analyst, Law and Government Division).
Witnesses from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration: Daniel Jean, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Program Development; Rosaline Frith, Director General, Integration; Patricia Birkett, Citizenship Registrar; Paul Yurack, Counsel, Legal Services.
Daniel Jean and Rosaline Frith made opening statements and with the other witnesses answered questions.
[W.Z. Except for Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral, who is Bloc Quebecois, all the Committee members present were Liberal. Inky Mark of the Progressive Conservatives was absent because he was recovering from cancer surgery. However, it is surprising that none of Diane Ablonczy, Lynne Yelich, Grant McNally of the Canadian Alliance nor Libby Davies of the NDP attended.
Benjamin Dolin travelled with the Standing Committee on their Western tour in February 2003 and appears to be a permanent fixture at all these hearings. In 1998, Mr. Dolin appeared successfully as solicitor for Valery Verkovodov versus CIC solicitor Morris Rosenberg in an immigration appeal before Judge Campbell in Vancouver [Docket: 1MM-4241-97; Date: 19980716]. The judgment refers to Mr. Verkovodov "effectively moving around Russia to earn a living while hiding from the Ukrainian Mafia" ... "The panel suspects that the claimant's distaste for doing his military service in the Ukraine extends to a desire to avoid a similar obligation that would arise through acquisition of Russian nationality, ...". Since that time Mr. Dolin appears to have gained employment with the Library of Parliament in Ottawa.
In an earlier appearance, Mr. Yurack claimed to have immigrated to Canada in the mid-1950s with his father. Later during Mtg #068, Ms. Frith states that her parents came to Canada as refugees. Their ethnic origin and circumstances of immigration are not clear.
Below I summarize some of the pertinent discussion, but will especially highlight the statements of Andrew Telegdi.]
STATEMENTS OF CIC BUREAUCRATS
Both Daniel Jean and Rosaline Frith were distressed that so many witnesses objected to the second class citizenship imposed on naturalized Canadians as a result of the revocation and annulment provisions in Bill C-18. Nevertheless, Ms. Frith doggedly insists on the right of CIC bureaucrats to revoke citizenship, "if there is fraud in the application for that citizenship". She uses false names or criminal convictions as examples. She does not even acknowledge that these should have been checked by CIC bureaucrats before citizenship is granted.
[W.Z. If fraud, false identity or criminal behaviour had been criteria to disallow the White Man to settle on Canadian territory, then Cree and Tuktoyaktuk would probably be Canada's official languages today.
Similarly, retroactive application of such criteria to Ukrainian and Jewish refugees after WWII would create quite a controversy. For exactly at the same time as the Western Allies were forcibly repatriating 2.5 million Ukrainian Ostarbeiter (slave laborers) to the tender mercies of Stalin so as to be executed or incarcerated in the Siberian Gulags, Jewish refugees were allowed to leave the Soviet-occupied territories and stream into the American and British-controlled zones from where they eventually emigrated to Palestine, North and South America and Australia. Thus, these Jewish refugees were economic refugees looking for a better life, rather than political refugees fearing for their lives and escaping oppression. Should those Jews, who were fortunate enough to immigrate to Canada, now be accused of fraud, have their citizenship revoked and be deported to their places of birth?
As a result of the infamous Yalta Agreement at which Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to repatriate Soviet citizens after the war back into Stalin's clutches, the situation for Ukrainians was far more complicated. The vast majority were true political refugees. However, only those who were born in Polish-occupied territory (i.e. Western Ukraine, rather than Russian-occupied Eastern Ukraine) could hope to escape repatriation. The solution for an Eastern Ukrainian was to befriend some Western Ukrainians and assume the identity from that locale. Should these Ukrainians, who are now Canadian citizens, be accused of fraud, have their citizenship revoked and be deported to their places of birth?
I would suggest that a large fraction of immigrants to Canada -- past, present and future -- conceal or distort certain information that they find embarassing or that they feel will lessen their chances of being accepted as landed immigrants. And the more unstable the region from which they come, the more likely this is to occur. If that is considered to be fraud, then welcome to the human species.]
There is no mention of dual citizenship in Bill C-18 at all. It is my understanding that members of the Standing Committee were instructed to stay away from the subject. In her long presentation Rosaline Frith refers to the issue as follows:
Under various nationality laws in force in Canada from 1868 to 1977, dual citizenship was controlled and restricted. This was based on the premise that dual citizenship was in itself an undesirable situation, a premise that still forms the basis of many nationality laws in other countries today.
Views on dual citizenship changed over time, and eventually the 1977 law removed automatic loss provisions for Canadians taking out other citizenships. This was not a correction of an unfair or discriminatory law. However, it was rather a change in philosophy within Canadian society.
This change is today viewed by most Canadians as a sign of Canada's multicultural maturity. Certainly the trend internationally in the last quarter century has been toward an increased tolerance of dual status.
[W.Z. In my presentation to the Standing Committee, I spoke out against dual citizenship being allowed. I was unaware of the 1977 law, since in the mid-seventies employees of Atomic Energy of Canada were still being encouraged to take out their Canadian citizenship.
In my opinion, this "increased tolerance of dual status" has enabled the International Money Mafia (i.e. international organized crime) to more easily travel around the world with impunity and infiltrate North American financial and political institutions. One often hears of these people travelling on Russian, Israeli, German, American or Canadian passports. Monitoring organized crime (of which terrorism is a small subset) would be much easier if all inhabitants of the planet had one identity, one citizenship and one passport.
Furthermore, Canada has a responsibility to world society to ensure that Canadian citizens are not perpetrating crimes against humanity in places such as Palestine, Iraq or Sudan. Certainly, detailed statistics of the number of Canadians holding dual or multiple citizenships should be compiled, published and discussed.]
Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.): Let me try again, Mr. Chairman, and then we'll go back to this.
One of the examples I cited was that there are countries that are defined as democracies which -- and this was the example I put to witnesses -- have engaged in extrajudicial killing. This is something I as a Canadian absolutely deplore. I would suggest to you it is something not condoned by the charter; it is something the charter would forbid.
Well then, let me go back to the point. What about somebody who has been a person in responsible authority in a state -- a democracy -- who has engaged in extrajudicial killing with the agreement of that state?
Set the warlords aside for a minute. What do you do with this alarming trend that is occurring in democracies in the world, where people are deciding that the way you deal with threats to the state is to kill people without trial?
[W.Z. John Bryden is obviously referring to Israel and the United States, who have engaged in such practices in Palestine and Ethiopia. As could be expected, the CIC bureaucrats waffled in tackling this issue by referring to warlords in other countries and to hate-mongering individuals.]
ANDREW TELEGDI ON FRAUD
Mr. Telegdi had three opportunities to speak. Each time he doggedly returned to the theme that Canadian criminal courts are perfectly capable of handling fraud, and should be utilized in cases involving revocation of citizenship, rather than utilizing a civil process which bestows second-class citizenship on naturalized Canadians.
His statements are reproduced below:
Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.): I don't know if you need some more coming from that side.
Let me say, I'm a little disturbed by the editorial presentations we heard across the country. I was expecting that we might get specific rebuttals of all the witnesses you might have disagreed with.
The real problem with what we're dealing with is there are so many ways of approaching it. On the one hand we have the presentation that people obtain citizenship by fraud. In this country, we have a very accepted, proper method of determining if fraud has occurred. It happens in our criminal courts each and every day, I dare say tens of thousands of cases a year. The system is set up to be able to deal with it.
Instead of following that kind of a process, which meets the legal requirements as enshrined in section 7 of the charter, we have a process where the existing legislation does not allow for an appeal to a report by one judge who makes a determination on a case that the truth.... The test for it is, did you lie or did you not lie to a question that might or might not have been asked fifty years ago. And there is no appeal to the decision on that report of that one judge.
Certainly that creates second-class citizenships. As a matter of fact, I can go through this bill and say to you that we have three classes of citizens. Now it makes a difference whether you've been here for five years before the government decides they want to revoke your citizenship or not.
If the question is fraud, we have a way of determining it. This process is more akin to a show trial -- and as far as I'm concerned it's fraudulent -- versus what is spelled out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's what the people across this country reacted to.
Now, Mr. Jean, I'm very impressed that you don't feel that it's a second-class citizen. Well, I can tell you, as a Member of Parliament, it took me as a parliamentary secretary studying this bill to recognize that I was a second-class citizen. I saw Bill C-63, and in case you haven't seen it, you might want to take a look at it. The government further proposed that if this fraudulent -- and I say it's fraudulent -- process that we have in place now were applied against my parents then the government could propose that my citizenship -- I dare them -- could be revoked.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Mr. Chairman, we're not getting anywhere in this. The question is, if it's fraud -- and that's what we're proving, fraud -- go through the normal process instead of a politicized process that doesn't allow for a citizen's rights.
We're not talking about refugees. We're not talking about immigrants. We're talking about citizens. And citizens have rights. Clause 12 doesn't talk about privileges, it talks about rights. So until it is shown that the citizen obtained it fraudulently, with all the due process of law to defend themselves, like Clifford Olson is able to do, like Paul Bernardo is able to do.... And we make the process for them, because for every one of those, we have a Guy Paul Morin, we have a Donald Marshall, we have a David Milgaard. And the list goes on and on. That's why we have the process that we as a society decided on. This is the fairest way of dealing with it.
In clause 17, Mr. Chairperson, we're talking about dangerous individuals, possible terrorists, what have you. I try to think of the worst possible terrorist we have in terms of a public policy perspective. Let's suppose Osama bin Laden came to Canada and acquired citizenship. Well, are we going to deal with that kind of an individual by taking away his citizenship, by kicking him out of the country? What would that do for our security and for that of the rest of the world? It would mean very poor security.
We had a recent case where we had someone going through the normal judicial process who pleaded guilty in the Air India bombing. This person was not born in this country. He became an immigrant. And how are we dealing with that individual? We put him through the normal court process. He was a danger, certainly, so the courts found out. What did we do? We put him in jail.
Paul Bernardo is a dangerous individual. We put him in jail.
Guy Paul Morin was wrongfully convicted and he finally was cleared.
I'm saying that even with that standard, we make mistakes. When you lower the standard you lower the bar. To the extent the bar has been lowered, you are inviting many mistakes.
My question is, given the small number of cases we're dealing with, why would we ever want to make second-class and third-class citizens of six million Canadians who were not born in this country? Because that's what the effect of this legislation is.
We heard from Olya Odynsky and what happened to her father and what kind of a cost it was to the family. And these people were not security risks.
As a matter of fact, since 1995 we had 21 cases. We have gotten none of them out of the country through the process. Quite frankly, I think most of them were not guilty of what they were charged with. They were put through a standard that was very low, and it dropped. I think it brings justice in this country into disrepute.
I would like to get back to the question. For these very few cases, if you are really worried about security, why would we want to make six million Canadians in this country second-class citizens and third-class citizens? Because that's essentially what we're doing.
Mr. Andrew Telegdi: Oh, you know, if it's fraud, it's fraud. We have a way of handling it. If we're to do that, you would have no argument from over here.
The fact of the matter is, we don't. So as far as I am concerned, this truly goes against section 7 of the charter and offends my sense of justice. It offends the sense of justice of the vast majority of people who find out about it. You mentioned you spoke to eighty groups about this bill. Well, let me tell you, I spoke to at least a couple of hundred, and I'll probably speak to another hundred before the year is out.
I think probably the proof is in the pudding. Since 1995 we have proceeded with 21 cases of revocation. I would like to have the committee given the information on these cases, as well as the amount of money we spent on them and the kind of success rate we had. We're talking about the government acting only in appropriate cases.
Certainly, of what I have seen of the cases that have come up since 1995 -- and we heard from one of the people, Ms. Odynsky -- I don't think they were appropriate cases. I think maybe the committee would benefit from being able to review those cases and see what happened with them. We have mountains of press reports out on those cases that I think the committee should also get. I'm in the process of collecting them because when I say it brings justice in this country into disrepute, that process does. That's what those commentaries say about it.
I would close by going back to what former Superior Court Justice Roger Salhany said about this. He said that there is absolutely no way a judge could deal with clause 17, that our system of justice, our system of making determination in the courts, was never set up for that; you have to have the test of evidence, because without the test of evidence you are totally at a loss for the judge to be able to make a decision.
This is completely unacceptable. If you actually could demonstrate through the normal court process, with the protections we gave to Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson, that fraud was committed -- the normal process we have going on in every community, every day, handling hundreds of thousands of cases.... Once you can demonstrate that the person's citizenship was obtained by fraud, then I think you can do some of the other stuff.
But certainly if you're going to make people feel that there is only one class of citizenship in this country, when you say fraud, you have to prove fraud, not to a civil standard, but to a very straightforward criminal standard. That's what the people across this country responded to, because until that happens you will have two classes of citizens in this country.
So I would like to have that information provided for the committee.
[W.Z. For the past several years and of all the politicians in Parliament, Andrew Telegdi has almost single-handedly carried on the battle against the denaturalization and deportation process being utilized by the government since 1995 to handle war crimes cases. He maintains that this fraudulent process clearly relegates naturalized Canadians to second-class citizenship. In my opinion, Canadians owe Mr. Telegdi a debt of gratitude for his principled stand.]