SCARBOROUGH – Recent amendments to the Citizenship Act introduced by the Canadian government will help immigrants build successful lives in Canada, and will restore the integrity of Canadian citizenship by ensuring it can never be taken away by a politician.
Bill C6, introduced in the House of Commons on Feb. 25, 2016 by Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees, will repeal several controversial elements of Bill C24, which was passed by the previous government.
- Repealing the “two-tier citizenship” provisions which allowed a government minister to strip individuals of their Canadian citizenship when convicted of certain criminal offences.
- Shortening the waiting period for a permanent resident to apply for Canadian citizenship by one year, from four years to three years.
- Reducing the age range for language proficiency testing for citizenship applications, returning to the previous range of age 18 to 54, from the current age 14-64.
“We believe that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian; the Citizenship Act under the previous government created two tier citizenship,” said Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre, and a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. “Our changes will ensure that all Canadians – including dual citizens – are treated equally once again.”
During the election campaign last summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a rally at the Zahid campaign office in Scarborough that this law would be repealed, and that, for the first time, he used those words that became a rallying-cry from coast to coast to coast: a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.
“I’m proud to be part of a government that understands this. My family moved to Canada 16 years ago and now I’m a Member of Parliament – that’s the equality of opportunity that makes Canada great,” said Zahid. “Our Liberal government will always stand up for that great Canadian tradition of inclusivity and equality.”
Changing the age range for the knowledge test and language requirements is also so important.
“It is important that new Canadians have a certain level of knowledge, and work to learn English or French. And I know that most work very hard. But the age ranges set by the Conservatives were punitive,” said Zahid. “A 64-year-old Grandmother moving here so her family can take care of her should not be punished for lacking language proficiency. We’re bringing fairness back to the system.”
Reducing by one year the time a permanent resident needs to be here before they can apply for Canadian citizenship is also an important change.
“If someone is working hard and wants to become a Canadian citizen and part of the Canadian family, we want them to join us as a fellow citizen,” said Zahid.