Vol. 149, No. 12 — June 17, 2015
SI/2015-42 June 17, 2015
STRENGTHENING CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT
Order Fixing the Day on which this Order is made as the Day on which Certain Provisions of the Act Come into Force
P.C. 2015-626 May 28, 2015
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsection 46(2.1) of the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 22 of the Statutes of Canada, 2014, fixes the day on which this Order is made as the day on which subsections 7(1) and (2), section 8, subsection 9(1), section 14, subsection 19(2), section 21, subsection 24(5.1) and sections 42 and 43 of that Act come into force.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
Pursuant to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (SCCA), which received royal assent on June 19, 2014, this Order in Council fixes the day on which the Order is made as the day on which subsections 7(1) and (2), section 8, subsection 9(1), section 14, subsection 19(2), section 21, subsection 24(5.1) and sections 42 and 43 of the SCCA come into force. These sections amend the Citizenship Act.
This Order brings into force the sections of the SCCA relating to the new revocation decision-making process as well as other amendments that support implementation of the revocation provisions. The other provisions that will come into force include the amendments to a grant of renunciation, prohibitions relating to misrepresentation and on being granted citizenship following revocation, and the amendment to the delegation of authority provision to account for the new role for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in certain revocation cases. The amendments also include a new regulation-making authority specific to the new revocation process. Several other technical and consequential amendments are being brought into force to ensure that the new provision numbers for revocation are correctly referenced in the Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
The Government committed in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to strengthen and protect the value of Canadian citizenship by introducing the first comprehensive reforms to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation. As a result, the SCCA is extensive and contains many new provisions as well as amendments to existing ones.
The amendments to the revocation provisions of the Citizenship Act aim to reinforce the value of citizenship and better protect the safety and security of Canadians. They include new expanded grounds for revocation of Canadian citizenship, which provide the authority to revoke citizenship from dual citizens who have served as a member of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada and/or those convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying, depending on the sentence imposed. The amendments also establish a streamlined decision-making process, where decisions to revoke Canadian citizenship will be made by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Federal Court, depending on the ground for revocation.
Specifically, the Minister of CIC will decide on revocation cases involving the convictions listed above and most cases involving fraud. The Federal Court will decide on cases of fraud involving security, organized criminality, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and also cases involving membership in an armed force or organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, given that such cases raise much more complex issues of fact and law. In revocation cases based on fraud decided by the Federal Court, the Court could also be asked to make a finding of inadmissibility. This would allow for a removal order to be issued earlier in the process.
The other provisions of the SCCA that will come into force with the revocation provisions will help achieve the objectives of the new revocation process and the grounds.
With respect to the SCCA changes made to the renunciation of Canadian Citizenship provisions, if the Minister has initiated a revocation proceeding, an application for a renunciation of citizenship cannot be accepted. That restriction will end if a decision is made not to revoke. If an application for the renunciation of citizenship has been accepted for processing, and the Minister then initiates revocation proceedings, then the application for renunciation cannot be processed until a decision on the revocation of citizenship has been made.
The existing bar to obtaining citizenship following a decision to revoke citizenship for fraud is increased from 5 years to 10 years. There is also a permanent bar from acquiring citizenship to those who had their citizenship revoked due to the national interest grounds.
There is also a new provision which will ensure that those who directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material circumstances relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act, are prohibited from being granted citizenship or taking the oath of citizenship. A person prohibited for misrepresentation would be barred from being granted citizenship during a period of five years following the misrepresentation.
The delegation of authority provision is also amended to account for the new role for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in certain revocation cases. Several amendments are necessary to ensure that the new provision numbers for revocation are correctly referenced in the Citizenship Act and Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These include technical consequential amendments to the IRPA and an amendment to the resumption grant.
During the legislative process, the overall response to the SCCA from Canadians, both those born here and those who immigrated, have been supportive. Media coverage related to the SCCA has been neutral to positive.
During the study at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, witnesses expressed criticism, particularly in relation to the new revocation provisions including the ground of a terrorism conviction and sentence for an offence committed outside Canada, because it may have resulted from an unfair process. It should be noted that before commencing revocation in these cases, there will be an assessment of the equivalency of the offence as well as the fairness of the judicial process in that country. If there is no equivalency of the offence in Canada, revocation cannot be pursued. If there is evidence that the judicial process was unfair, the Minister of CIC can decide not to pursue revocation proceedings. If there is evidence of equivalency and revocation proceedings are initiated, based on the proposed factors, the Minister may hold a hearing in cases where the terrorism conviction and sentence is for an offence committed outside Canada. This would provide the affected individual with the opportunity to supplement information before the Minister.
With respect to the new grounds for revocation, a 2012 poll commissioned by member of Parliament Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast) and conducted by NRG Research, found that 80% of participants agreed that Canadians guilty of treason should lose their citizenship. It found similar agreement to revoking citizenship from terrorists who target Canadian Armed Forces.
A notice of intent regarding the associated regulatory amendments was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 15, 2014, followed by a 10-day comment period. CIC received six comments from the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and other individuals. Some of those comments were related more broadly to the new legislative authorities that have received royal assent in June 2014, rather than the regulatory amendments. One comment supported the new revocation process; another sought further detail respecting implementation timelines; and two expressed general concern with the changes introduced by the SCCA. Another submission was a request to be provided with more time to reflect on the proposed changes and to provide comment on the substance of the proposed factors. One stakeholder also proposed additional factors to be included for possible consideration by the Minister. However, the factors to be included in the regulations are considered sufficient to accommodate a broad range of scenarios.
Legislation and Program Policy
Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
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