NUMBER 028 | 1st SESSION | 38th PARLIAMENT
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
The Chair (Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.)): I would like to call this meeting to order.
This is the first of many meetings we're going to be having across Canada. From here we're going to Regina, to Calgary, and to Edmonton, ending up in Victoria on Friday. On Saturday and Monday we're holding hearings in Vancouver, and on Tuesday we're back in Ottawa for a vote. On Wednesday and Thursday we're in Toronto, and on Friday we're in Waterloo. The following week we're going to be heading out to the east coast.
Let me just say that this certainly shows that things really do start at Winnipeg. Inky can make comments on that.
I'd like to welcome the witnesses. We'll have five-minute presentations from you, after which we'll go to questions from the members. Let's hope that at the end of our journey we can come up with a new Citizenship Act, improve on family reunification -- David, I see that you're going to be presenting on that as well -- and deal with the whole issue of international credentials.
Mr. David Matas (Lead Counsel, B'nai Brith Canada): First of all, thank you for coming to Winnipeg, for hitting the road. I understand that this is your first day on the road and I'm your first witness. I appreciate the position of place.
I had originally put my name down as an individual, but B'nai Brith Canada asked me to put a brief in on their behalf, taking advantage of the time slot I've been given, so that's what I'm going to do. I also note that you indicated there would be five speakers this morning. However, as I understand it, the two beside me are only going to make one presentation, which means that, so far, we're only two. If I may, then, I'll take a little bit longer than the five minutes allotted, and if people show up I'll shorten my remarks.
I'm going to read a bit from something that I've written and that B'nai Brith has approved.
B'nai Brith Canada has many suggestions for improvements in the present citizenship system, which we will be later filing in writing. Today, however, we feel compelled to address you on a far more compelling matter -- namely, the need to bring to justice those in Canada against whom there is evidence of direct involvement or complicity in crimes against humanity.
For decades, Canada had as a matter of policy a system of total impunity for war criminals and criminals against humanity in Canada. That system of impunity was finally put into question when the Government of Canada appointed in 1985 a commission of inquiry on war criminals. The commission made many recommendations to put an end to this impunity, and several of these recommendations have been implemented. But the reality today is that we still do not have an effective system for bringing to justice war criminals and criminals against humanity in Canada.
The prosecution remedy failed completely once the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of Finta, held that anti-Semitism could be a defence to complicity in the Holocaust, because a person with anti-Semitic beliefs may not have the requisite mental element for guilt. Extradition is a viable remedy only for cases where there are extradition requests, but these have been few and far between.
We are left with citizenship and deportation. That remedy has not been shut down by the courts the way the prosecution remedy has been, but it has not worked. So far, two people from the Nazi era against whom revocation proceedings have been launched have left Canada voluntarily. One person was removed after exhausting some, but not all, legal recourses. Seven people have died after proceedings were begun but not concluded.
There are five people who lost in Federal Court but who nonetheless remain in Canada, for no apparent reason. Of these five, the case of Jacob Fast began in September 1999, almost six years ago. The cases of Odynsky and Baumgartner both began in September 1997, almost eight years ago. The case of Katriuk began in August 1996, almost nine years ago.
The case of Oberlander serves as a poster child for what's wrong with the law. Oberlander was associated with the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi roving killing unit whose task was the murder of Jews and other innocents. The Oberlander case began in January 1995, an astonishing 10 years ago. The Supreme Court of Canada in September 1997 had occasion to remark that the delays in the Oberlander case were inordinate and arguably inexcusable, and that the dilatoriness of the case defied explanation. But more than seven years after that statement, there's still no closure in this case.
The inordinate delays in citizenship revocation and removal have highlighted the fragmentation of the present system. We recommend a consolidation of all the various steps into one.
There are at least two cases the government lost that it should not have lost, the cases of Vitols and Dueck. In our view, the government likely would have won both cases on appeal; however, there is no appeal under the present system. A second recommendation we make is that there be an appeal with leave to the Federal Court of Appeal. But the call for Citizenship Act reform, the call for appeal consolidation, has spurred the impunity lobby. The need for reform to make the law more effective has become to this lobby an opportunity to urge ending altogether the effort to bring to justice those in Canada against whom there's evidence of direct involvement or complicity in the Nazi war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In the face of this renewed call for impunity, we remind the committee of these 12 basic principles:
(1) Criminals against humanity in Canada should be brought to justice.
(2) Neither age nor effluxion of time nor good behaviour of the perpetrators in Canada is an excuse for denying justice to the victims.
(3) Any remedy for bringing criminals against humanity to justice is better than no remedy.
(4) Given the effluxion of time and the lies people from the Nazi era used to enter Canada, prosecution and conviction today on a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt for Nazi war crimes is no longer possible in most cases. The remedy of revocation of citizenship and deportation on proof, on a balance of probabilities, that a person lied on entry may be the only remedy that is available.
(5) We endorse and accept the government program of moving to revocation of citizenship against only those for whom there is evidence of direct involvement or complicity in crimes against humanity. The law allows for the revocation of citizenship if any person has lied their way into Canada. The government as a matter of discretion for Nazi-era immigrants has stayed its hand and not sought the revocation of citizenship of those who lied their way into Canada where the government does not have evidence of direct involvement or complicity in crimes against humanity.
However, this discretionary criterion the government uses when deciding whether or not to proceed to court against some people should not be and cannot be turned into a legal standard enforceable in court; nor does the law allow the discretionary criterion the government uses not to launch cases to be a relevant consideration for cabinet decisions on revocation.
In light of the fact that a member of your committee -- I read the previous testimony -- has stated on the public record that a court specifically found that Wasyl Odynsky did not commit any war crime, we draw to your attention that no court has made any such finding. Indeed, there have been a number of protestations of innocence that have contradicted the actual court findings, not just in this case, but in other cases as well. What they're drawing a distinction between is actual involvement in shootings and complicity in a war crime.
In the case of Odynsky, he was a perimeter guard in a facility where people were later killed, and he kept them from escaping by being a guard. It may be the case that he wasn't actually involved in the shooting where the people were killed, but the fact that he prevented people from escaping where they were later killed by others would itself be a war crime and crime against humanity.
(6) The creation of statelessness should not be a reason for withholding revocation of citizenship for false representation, fraud, or knowingly concealing a material circumstance. It contradicts the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which I quote; it contradicts the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, which I quote, to give an immunity to people simply because they would otherwise be rendered stateless.
In this regard we note with dismay the statement by the committee in its report on issues to be addressed that any process under Canada's citizenship legislation should not result in a person being rendered stateless. We ask the committee to reverse this recommendation, which should not have been made in advance of hearings and in contradiction of both international law and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals.
(7) The transition provisions in a new citizenship act should preserve and maintain the court decisions already made. Revocations launched by the Department of Justice war crimes unit have already taken far too long. It would be unconscionable if we had to start these cases all over again because of a new law.
(8) Revocation of citizenship and deportation are not punishment. Revocation proceedings are civil proceedings, not criminal proceedings. People should not be removed to execution or torture. But if neither execution nor torture is an issue, removal for fraud on entry is purely within Canadian and international legal standards.
(9) The present system for revocation of citizenship should be made to work while still being maintained in place. The fact that there's room for improvement in the system should not be a justification for shutting down its present operation. Though we question the fairness of the present system of revocation of citizenship to the victims, the system has been more than fair to those brought to court. It meets due process standards; it conforms to the fundamental justice guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The committee should not use the need for reform as an excuse to discourage our present efforts to bring to justice persons who have lied their way into Canada and against whom there's evidence of complicity in crimes against humanity.
Citizenship Act reform should make the system better. But if Citizenship Act reform is going to become an excuse for doing nothing about the present cases or redoing those cases, we would be better off dropping all talk of reform. The better must not become the enemy of the good.
(10) The present system of revocation of citizenship respects the equality guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The equality guarantee in the charter is meant to ameliorate the situation for disadvantaged minorities. The persons against whom there may be evidence of direct involvement or complicity in crimes against humanity are not a disadvantaged minority. People who may have lied their way into Canada are not a disadvantaged minority. Any suggestion to the contrary is outrageous.
(11) Do not forget the victim. Those involved in revocation proceedings have rights. So too do the victims of crimes against humanity. Right now people from the Nazi era, against whom there is unequivocal evidence they lied on entry, end up staying in Canada, forever litigating cases until they die a natural death. The system has bent so far backwards to accommodate the procedural claims of those who have lied their way into Canada that the rights of victims and the integrity of the system have been forgotten. In substance, because of these delays, the present system has proved unworkable. In effect, Canada continues to provide immunity to those against whom there is substantial evidence of guilt in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
(12) The need for concluding the existing cases is urgent. The biological clocks of both victims and perpetrators are ticking louder than kettle drums. Death has already prevented seven cases from being completed. Right now five cases, which I mentioned, are sitting on the desk of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration waiting for him to decide whether to present those cases to cabinet. Even before Citizenship Act reform is considered, the first and most important business of this committee should be to urge the minister to get on with the job and to present those cases to cabinet for a decision on revocation.
I should say I have been joined here by Alan Yusim, who is a staff person with B'nai Brith. He's not going to say anything to the committee. He's just here to support me.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We will now go to Mr. Petryshyn. We will give you extra time as well.
Mr. John S. Petryshyn (President, Ukrainian Professional and Business Federation of Canada): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's a pleasure to be here.
We thank you also for coming across Canada. It certainly makes a difference for us to be able to get up in the morning, as opposed to having to catch a flight to Ottawa, and deal with issues before the committee.
I am John Petryshyn, and with me is Lesia Szwaluk. This is a joint presentation of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Manitoba Provincial Council, and the Ukrainian Professional and Business Federation of Canada, of which I am president. Ms. Szwaluk is the president of the local provincial council. We were going to divide up the presentation, but Lesia has come down with a sore throat and unfortunately will not be speaking as well, although she may croak something if you ask her the right question. That's the best she can do right now.
So without further ado, Mr. Chairman, since we're dealing with the original immigration act and there is really nothing before us by way of a new bill or anything of that nature, we are focusing our attention on the current legislation from 1974. I'll refer to that, and I'll read the document we have disseminated in my allotted time. As I indicated, the presentation is a joint one and is in regard to the establishment of potentially a new citizenship act.
We do have concerns about the current legislation. I will refer particularly to sections 18 and 10.
Section 18 reads:
18. (1) The Minister shall not make a report under section 10 unless the Minister has given notice of his intention to do so to the person in respect of whom the report is to be made and
(a) that person does not, within thirty days after the day on which the notice is sent, request that the Minister refer the case to the Court; or
(b) that person does so request and the Court decides that the person has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.
The Chair: Do you have copies of your presentation?
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: I handed them out to the clerk this morning. We made ten copies.
The Chair: I think we need to get them translated.
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: We were told to bring ten copies the day of the hearing, so that's what we did.
The Chair: Go ahead.
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: I'll take a little more time just to make sure I'm not skipping over anything. I thought you all had copies of it.
Under subsection 18(2),
(2) The notice referred to in subsection (1) shall state that the person in respect of whom the report is to be made may, within thirty days after the day on which the notice is sent to him, request that the Minister refer the case to the Court, and such notice is sufficient if it is sent by registered mail to the person at his latest known address.
(3) A decision of the Court made under subsection (1) is final and, notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament, no appeal lies therefrom.
Our concerns with paragraph 18(b) relate to the manner in which the courts deal with the denaturalization process, and that is under section 18, which in fact starts the process in court. As set out in the recent case of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Odynsky, the Honourable Justice MacKay of the Federal Court stated in part:
While the ultimate issue for determination appears relatively simple, its resolution is complicated by reason of the lack of records maintained by the Minister concerning Mr. Odynsky's admission to Canada and his subsequent obtaining of citizenship. Its resolution is complicated further by the quality of evidence concerning, and the difficulty for witnesses asked to recall, events and processes that occurred or in which they may have been involved more than 50 years ago.
This was not an isolated case when the government initiated denaturalization proceedings against the Canadian almost half a century after granting him citizenship, even though the government's employees had already destroyed the necessary immigration files in accordance with the government's policy for disposal of unnecessary records after a fixed period of time, and relative witnesses had long passed away.
We propose, Mr. Chairman, that after a reasonable period of time naturalized Canadians should not feel their citizenship is indefinitely conditional, or subject to challenge by a minister, or that they must preserve at all times necessary evidence to be able to prove, independently of their age, on a balance of probabilities, the Canadian citizenship acquired with our laws.
Therefore, we recommend a limitation period of five years from the date of acquisition of citizenship for all types of revocation and annulment of citizenship proceedings under the act. So if you obtain your citizenship, and the government does not take action against you within five years, you have become a Canadian citizen. This does not mean that you can't be prosecuted for fraud or any other statute that may apply; however, this is similar to what Australia has: a ten-year period. And Germany has a five-year period.
Further, we refer to the case of The Minister of Citizenship and Bogutin. The Honourable Justice McKeown stated in the requisite standard of proof and revocation of citizenship proceedings that “A high degree of probability is, in my opinion, required in a case of this kind”.
What is at stake here is very important: the right to keep Canadian citizenship and the serious consequences that may result if that citizenship ceases. For some, such as those who might become stateless if deprived of their citizenship, it may be valued as highly as liberty. In view of the fact that the revocation and annulment of citizenship proceedings are not regular civil proceedings and may be described as quasi-criminal proceedings, we recommend a higher standard of proof for such proceedings, namely, “beyond a reasonable doubt” instead of` “balance of probability”. Therefore, it is certain that the person should be deprived of their citizenship, as we say, in this evidentiary standard.
We have further concerns with subsection 18(2), and submit that instead of a person being served by registered mail at the latest known address, he should be served in person with the minister's report. It may seem a minor point, but who knows what records the government has about where the person is located. Even in court proceedings today, service upon the person is very important, not just the fact that he may have received a letter by mail.
We have further concerns as to 18(3), which denies the person the right of appeal. Appellate court should be able to review the facts and law presented at trial, overturn the decision, or send it back to the original court with instructions to re-hear the matter if errors that warrant the case being overturned or re-tried occurred at trial.
It is further submitted that section 10 of the current Citizenship Act should not be the process for stripping any person of their citizenship, as it is made by the Governor in Council on a report to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Section 10 reads as follows:
10. (1) Subject to section 18 but notwithstanding any other section of this Act, where the Governor in Council, on a report from the Minister, is satisfied that any person has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed citizenship under this Act by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances,
(a) the person ceases to be a citizen, or
(b) the renunciation of citizenship by the person shall be deemed to have had no effect,
as of such date as may be fixed by order of the Governor in Council with respect thereto.
(2) A person shall be deemed to have obtained citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances if the person was lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances and, because of that admission, the person subsequently obtained citizenship.
That's section 10. I read it because, unfortunately, you don't have my report. Our presentation deals with this.
In essence, the minister who prosecuted the person under section 18 presents a report to some of his or her cabinet colleagues, and the prosecutor becomes part of the decision-making process to take away a citizen's right, no matter how long they may have been in Canada and regardless of whether or not they've led an exemplary life while here.
We assert that this section should be deleted in its entirety and replaced by a judicial process in a court of law. Where the minister moves to take away one's citizenship, such person has the right to legal counsel, to be informed of the case against them, to rebut the evidence, and to present cogent evidence on their own behalf before a judge of an appropriate court. This is the due process of law to which every citizen is entitled under the charter of rights, and it should apply where one's citizenship is being challenged.
Those are our brief comments, Mr. Chairman. We make ourselves available for discussion in some detail that may arise from our report.
Again, I apologize for not having the report earlier, but we thought that was the process of dealing with it.
The Chair: Once it has been translated, all the members of the committee will then be in possession of it.
I'd like to thank you very much for your presentations.
We're now going to go to our first round of questions and answers. Mr. Mark, you have seven minutes for questions and answers.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank the witnesses for being here this morning.
Obviously, the topic that was brought up this morning is not easy to resolve.
My first question is to Mr. Matas. In your opinion, what is broken in terms of the system? Is it the judicial system or the political system?
Mr. David Matas: Well, I think there are three recommendations I make in the course of talking about what's working and not working now. I would say neither the political system nor the judicial system but the legal system, the fragmentation.... The system of revocation is broken up into a number of different steps that basically allow people to stay here forever. Seven people have died in the process, and we have one person who's been litigating for ten years and is still litigating. For others, of course, it's been less time but they've still been litigating many years.
There's obviously something very wrong with the way this process is working. It's not getting anybody out, except -- well, two people left voluntarily and one left without exhausting all recourses. But it looks as if when somebody is willing and able to exhaust all recourse, they can stay here until they die a natural death, and that's not an effective system.
The problem is that you have finding for fraud as one step, the actual revocation by cabinet as the second step, and the immigration proceedings are themselves a number of steps. What we recommend is that one court make one decision on all these various steps, one that would not just find fraud but would revoke citizenship and order removal, so everything is done all at once in one court proceeding, subject to an appeal with leave.
The second problem, as I suggested, is that in terms of the people involved, I read in the testimony and complaints that they feel they're unfairly treated. I don't think they're unfairly treated when they can stay in Canada forever, litigating and in effect never losing, but I think the victims aren't fairly treated.
In my written material I mentioned a couple of cases, Podins and Dueck. Well, the government lost that case on a legal point that has subsequently not been followed on other cases, about whether or not there is legal authority for security screening at the relevant time. The judge, Noël, said no in Dueck but other judges later said yes. The government lost in Podins because the witness had testified in one case about records and then had a stroke and later couldn't remember what he'd said earlier; that's why the government lost in Podins. In my view, if there had been appeals, those cases would have been overturned, so there needs to be an appeal.
Mr. Petryshyn talked about the problem of records. Now, I don't see that as an insoluble problem. First of all, we have witnesses of what happened even if records are destroyed. Secondly, you know some people must have lied to get in. If the law was being applied and they told the truth, they would not have got in, because we did have some prohibited groups, like the Einsatzgruppen. If you had been in the Einsatzgruppen, you couldn't say, well, I told the truth and I got in. That's just not credible.
But there are some cases where it may well be you cannot establish that a person lied on entry but you can establish that they were war criminals. I would suggest that we need to add grounds for revocation so war criminality or criminality against humanity committed before the person entered Canada could be a ground for revocation.
Those are the three things I see as being wrong with the present system.
Mr. Inky Mark: One of your points has been about waiting for the minister to take to cabinet the names of people you think should be deported. Should a cabinet minister be forced to deal with matters of that nature, given the amount of time he needs to deal with it? That's one of the problems right now: we are waiting and waiting for a minister of the crown --
Mr. David Matas: Should he be forced? Well, that raises the question of whether or not the courts can order the minister to do it, whether there is a legal duty to do it and who could force them, and whether the victims could force them or not, because there are of course victims in Canada, and the people....
For instance, Obodzinsky has since died, but he was in the queue. There were six cases in the queue and now there are five because Obodzinsky died. I was in touch with somebody who while hiding in a barn actually saw his father and other relatives shot by Obodzinsky. He was very anxious to have this case dealt with, but then Obodzinsky died while the case was in the queue.
Could this fellow have gone to court to ask the court to order the minister to take the case to cabinet? Maybe. I don't know; it's never been legally tested. If a minister said they were just going to sit on these cases forever, then maybe some victim would do that. I'm hopeful it won't get to that stage.
With Oberlander it's not simply that the case was sitting on the minister's desk for ten years; there were many other steps. With all of these cases there have been many other steps. The Katriuk case has been sitting on the minister's desk for many years now, and hopefully we won't get to that.
My own view, if you're asking my opinion of the law, is that if it did get to court on the request of the victim, someone could force the minister to act. But obviously, as you're a political group, I would just ask you to ask the minister to act.
Mr. Inky Mark: I have one question for Mr. Petryshyn. How many countries actually have in place a limitation upon which, if it passes, the whole issue of revocation ceases? What's the danger of putting in place a limitation?
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: Well, first of all, as I quoted, Australia and Germany have limitation periods, and there are several others. I can't give you a list of all of them right now, Mr. Mark, but I can provide it for you. But that's the whole process in terms of countries that accept people who are foreign citizens and come to their countries. Because in essence, what you're doing if you leave it open, if there is in fact not a moratorium, is you create two classes of citizens. You can be a naturalized citizen, as I am, and not have the same rights and privileges under the charter as a Canadian-born citizen.
At a certain point in time, in criminal law, in statute, for murder and the highest crimes we know of, there are limitation periods. In fact, to have something hanging over them.... As Mr. Matas pointed out, these cases go on forever. Why are they going on forever? If in fact there was a limitation period, if in fact the government had to move against a certain individual, where would you draw the line? Can you be sued on a fraudulent cheque fifty years from now? No, you can't. The question simply is that citizenship.... It creates, as a result, if there is no limitation period, a stateless person.
I'm an example. If I should have my citizenship revoked.... I came here as a young man, but I was born in Germany during the war. The Germans brought my parents back from Ukraine to work and there I was born, but I do not have German citizenship and I can never acquire German citizenship under their legislation. I am stateless if I leave Canada.
And let me tell you this. The reason a lot of people had different identities is because of what happened not during the war, but after the war. When the Russians came into Europe, Stalin gave orders: anybody who had gone over to the west, whatever that meant, was an enemy of the state. My parents had to be hidden. My uncle, my grandfather, other people, had to lie about their identities because if they came from a certain part of the former Soviet Union, back they went with the help of Mr. Churchill and with the help of Mr. Roosevelt. That was the Yalta accord. People were lying about their identities simply to save their skins. That's what happened after the war.
For those people today who sit and say this is the judicial process in Canada -- “we have no records, we have no witnesses, but you may well have belonged to a certain group” -- that's not the issue, because that becomes very inflammatory.
That is why our presentation deals with the Immigration Act, the unfairness of a political decision, the lack of court process to take away a person's citizenship, and the lack of a time limitation period. Those are the issues, Mr. Chair and Mr. Mark, that we think should be addressed by this committee.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We're going to go on to Mr. Clavet.
Mr. Roger Clavet (Louis-Hébert, BQ): As I haven't received the document in French, I'm reading it as we go along. So I'll give up my turn. I may ask Mr. Matas and Mr. Petryshyn a few questions later, but, for the moment, I'll read the document, which wasn't presented in the other official language.
Mr. David Matas: I apologize. If you wish, I can answer your questions in French.
Mr. Roger Clavet: I'm going to give up my turn, but I'll come back with other questions, Mr. Matas. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Matas, I wanted to ask you if you could expand a little bit on Judge Deschênes' commentary on statelessness and the removal to statelessness and why he didn't see that as something that would be in contravention of Canada's international obligations. Could you just expand on that for me?
Mr. David Matas: Well, in fact it's quite explicit. It's in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which Canada is a party to. Canada has signed and ratified the convention. It says, and I'll quote: “A contracting state shall not deprive a person of his nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless”, which is the general principle. But it then goes on to say that notwithstanding this provision, “a person may be deprived of the nationality of a Contracting State where the nationality has been obtained by misrepresentation or fraud.”
So there is an exception for fraud in the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Now, the convention doesn't require you to do it where there's fraud; it allows you to do it. But what Deschênes said is that when somebody is a war criminal or a criminal against humanity and they lied their way into Canada, we should do it. And that's what we've got in the present program. Where there is evidence of complicity in war crimes or crimes against humanity and evidence of fraud, it goes to court. On the fraud issue, the issue of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity is decided by the war crimes unit as a trigger for deciding whether or not to launch the court case, and that's basically what Deschênes recommended. Deschênes recommended a whole bunch of different remedies and this was one of them.
But the reality is that because the Supreme Court of Canada shut down the prosecution remedy.... With extradition we've had a request for Rauf and for Seifert and Lu Chen, but that's about all. With the others, all we're left with is this other remedy.
Mr. Bill Siksay: I don't purport to be an expert in all of this information. I am hoping to get there at some point, but help me with the issue of someone who has come to Canada, become a Canadian citizen, and later they are alleged to be a war criminal.
What is preventing us, in Canada, from dealing with them as a Canadian citizen, and dealing with them for that particular crime? Why is the idea of revocation of citizenship necessary, additional perhaps to the whole question of dealing with them in some kind of criminal court?
Mr. David Matas: The problem is the Finta case. The Finta case was a jury case, and Finta was acquitted, so the issue became the charge to the jury about whether it was legally permissible or not permissible. Doug Christie, who was the lawyer for Finta, said that the.... There was no doubt about the fact that Finta was a guard at a concentration camp in Szeged, Hungary, where people were being shipped off to Auschwitz. So the facts were not an issue. In fact, he didn't even call a defence. He didn't testify and there were no witnesses in the defence. He basically accepted the facts and pleaded on law.
He said that sending Jews off to Auschwitz was justifiable because Jews were the enemy. Why were Jews the enemy? He read an article in a newspaper -- a German Nazi newspaper or a Hungarian Nazi newspaper -- that Jews were the enemy. So he was doing this in defence, because of this newspaper article, or some newspaper article that stated that Jews were the enemy. The judge said that the defence that he thought Jews were the enemy could be put to the jury if there was an air of reality to the defence, and there was an air of reality because of the newspaper articles he had read.
The issue became whether that ruling by the judge in putting the case to the jury was sustainable. The Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, split four to three -- and it was a case I actually intervened in for B'nai Brith -- said that it was a sustainable charge. So if somebody, as I said in my written brief, could successfully be acquitted of mass murder of innocents because he believed that group was an enemy, then basically racial prejudice became a defence for killing people on the basis of race. Once you've got that as a defence, it becomes impossible to prosecute anyone. The government had started off by prosecution and not by revocation, but once the Finta case was decided, they realized it was simply impossible to prosecute any more, so they switched to revocation.
What has happened more recently is that the government has repealed the old war crimes provisions in the Criminal Code and replaced them with the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which specifically repeals that particular ruling of Finta and says that racial prejudice cannot be a defence for being charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This is after all these cases have been going on for many years for revocation of citizenship, and I would say it would be both impossible and unwise to simply stop all these cases, some of which have been going on for ten years, and start them all over again in a new proceeding. The reality is that any new law is going to have some legal quirks that are going to have to be worked out through litigation. As bad and as ineffective as this system is in getting finality, my own view is we have to make it work well and to keep going, rather than give it up as a lost cause.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Do you have the same concern that Mr. Petryshyn and others have that this sets up two classes of citizenship and that someone who becomes a Canadian citizen, in effect, is subject to conditions that those of us who were born here never have to face and that they can, at any time in their life, face the revocation of their citizenship?
Mr. David Matas: What we are talking about is fraud on entry. Obviously, only people who enter can commit fraud on entry, and people who are born here cannot commit fraud on entry. Sure, people who are born in Canada are citizens, and people who are not born in Canada are not citizens. That is a difference, but I don't see it is a violation of the charter. I don't think we should say people born anywhere are citizens of Canada because otherwise you are treating people born outside of Canada and inside of Canada differently. That doesn't make sense.
You have to remember that the equality guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not targeted at removing all legal differences among people. That is impossible, unwise, and impractical. It is trying to work to ameliorate the situation of disadvantage. So if you look at the groups that are specifically listed, although it is not just those groups, it's age, it's sex, it's disability, and so on.
So the question is whether the group that is differentiated against is one of these disadvantaged groups, or is disadvantaged in some other way. You cannot say that people who lied their way into Canada or people who committed war crimes are a disadvantaged group. They aren't, obviously. There is a difference in their treatment, but it is not a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms equality guarantee.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We are going to go on, but we'll come back.
Hon. David Anderson (Victoria, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
To continue with the question on citizenship and the difference between those born in Canada and those born outside Canada, I think I'm correct in saying that children born of Canadian parents outside Canada, even if the parents were servicemen serving on Canadian bases in Europe, are treated in the same manner, with respect to that overseas birth, as people who are naturalized citizens. Is that a correct statement?
Mr. David Matas: Yes. As I suspect you know, the citizenship law is not that simple and it has changed over the years. The relevant law is the law at the time you were born or became a citizen or the law took effect rather than the present law. In order to determine the effect of any particular law, you can't necessarily look at the present law. In order to determine the status of any person, you can't necessarily look to the present law.
I don't even know if this is still true now, but at least at one time, I know that if you were born outside Canada, you had to return after a certain period of time or at a certain age indicated. If you never returned, at some point you had to indicate that you wanted to remain a citizen. If you didn't do that, you might have lost your citizenship.
Basically, what you say is correct.
Hon. David Anderson: Okay. We're dealing here with cases where a naturalized Canadian citizen obtained naturalization through some fraud ab initio, at the outset, in filing papers. The only parallel that I can think of is if people had citizenship papers that indicated they were Canadian-born, but they had in fact managed to fraudulently obtain such a status. They had not been born in Canada, but they had the papers to show it. Would that be similar to the situation we face with a person who lied on a naturalized immigration case, where a naturalization has taken place and Canadian citizenship has been granted?
Mr. David Matas: It would be similar, yes.
Hon. David Anderson: Is it possible that we could have people in Canada whose citizenship says they are Canadian-born who would in fact have that citizenship taken away because of fraudulent identity?
Mr. David Matas: Yes. The paper is fraudulent, but they weren't in fact born here.
Hon. David Anderson: That's right. It's in exactly the same manner as if the person who is coming here had lied on some other aspect of the naturalization part of the original citizenship application.
Mr. David Matas: That's right.
Hon. David Anderson: We could then say that there are occasions when Canadian-born citizens, citizens who have citizenship by reason of a claim of birth, could have that citizenship taken away. If so, those people could similarly be stateless or could revert to another citizenship of the country of birth.
Mr. David Matas: That's absolutely correct.
Hon. David Anderson: I think it's important that we realize, it seems to me, that the granting of citizenship is not dissimilar in either case. The fact is if someone has citizenship by reason of birth, it may be fraudulent. It's unlikely because of our records, but it is a possibility. It's under those circumstances that you would find a comparable situation to the naturalized citizen losing citizenship in a case, as we've been discussing.
Mr. David Matas: Yes. Indeed you are giving me an additional component to the answer, which I should have given. I thank you for that.
Hon. David Anderson: Now, I have one other issue, again, getting the assistance of your legal knowledge. As I understand it, we cannot really face a situation where atrocities committed abroad by a Canadian citizen could occur by reason of enlistment in a foreign army because we have provisions that prohibit Canadian citizens from taking part in foreign military activities through restrictions on foreign enlistment.
Mr. David Matas: We do have that. That's true. If somebody who is really born in Canada and not just using false papers commits a crime against humanity abroad, we don't have the option of revocation. We may have an option of extradition if the country where the crime was committed or the country where the victim was a national wants to prosecute, but our only options would be prosecution in Canada, prosecution abroad, or prosecution by an international tribunal. Of course, there is always the possibility of a civil remedy.
Hon. David Anderson: Yes, but nevertheless, there are prohibitions in Canada against enlistment in a foreign military service.
Mr. David Matas: Sure, so what that tells us is that we're much less likely to get Canadians involved in these foreign military crimes than we are people who, as adults, were non-Canadians and who could have been enlisted in a foreign army.
What you're dealing with is the population pool of immigrants who are.... I guess you could say it's legally possible for them to have committed these crimes even though it's not legally tolerable, whereas for the Canadian population there isn't the same legal possibility.
Hon. David Anderson: If I could just ask my final question, take, for example, the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. We had Canadian-born and naturalized Canadian citizens returning to that particular area and fighting on four or five different sides in that conflict. The Canadian-born would have been subject to the same prohibitions as the naturalized Canadians if they returned to fight in combat and in some way or another were involved in any atrocity at that time. They would have been --
Mr. David Matas: That's right.
Hon. David Anderson: And they would have been prosecuted in Canada under the restrictions on foreign enlistment.
Mr. David Matas: That's right. Once a person is a Canadian citizen, there's no differentiation in the way they're treated if they're complicit in a war crime. If they're prosecuted, they're prosecuted on the same basis. Of course, their citizenship cannot be revoked even now for participation in war crimes if the crimes were committed after they became citizens, even if they're naturalized citizens.
Although it's not the present law, if the committee and Parliament accept the proposal that revocation should be for participation in war crimes as well as for fraud, our proposal is that it only be for participation in war crimes committed before the person became a citizen, not afterwards.
Hon. David Anderson: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mrs. Nina Grewal (Fleetwood—Port Kells, CPC): Thank you for your presentation and for your time.
My question is very simple. What are we lacking in our system, and how can we make our system more accountable and more efficient and workable for all of us?
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: If I can just refer to our brief presentation, what we're looking at is the protection in the charter of all persons. I believe the Supreme Court, in the Singh decision many years ago, said all persons in Canada have the right of protection of the charter. Whether you've set foot here, whether you're a Canadian citizen, a landed immigrant, or simply sojourning through Canada, you have the protection of the charter.
What we're saying is that under sections 7 and 15 in particular, someone who is a Canadian citizen should have due process. That due process is lacking when a minister in cabinet decides whether or not the person should be denaturalized. What we're saying is that if there's a war crime -- and I'm not at odds with my friend or anybody else -- if the person is a war criminal, then let that matter be dealt with in the court. If I'm going to be denaturalized and have my citizenship taken away from me, I would like to have the opportunity to present evidence in the courts. It should not be that the minister, in the back room or somewhere else, decides whether or not that's going to be done based on what evidence he or she and his or her colleagues may have before them. That's what we're saying.
You've heard of endless delay if and when the minister takes this information. So if I have the opportunity, can you imagine if something like that is hanging over my head for ten years? The minister may or may not act, but I know I have a chance to go to court and say I should not be denaturalized, and that I have the opportunity of presenting evidence under the charter and Canadian law, in a court of law, and calling evidence on my own behalf.
What we're really lacking is transparency and the ability to deal with the issue in a court of law. That's what we're saying. Take that section 10 out, the one where the minister, who is in cabinet and with a few colleagues at the table and who has been prosecuting you for x number of years, decides whether or not you should be denaturalized. Those other things I can relate to, but that's basically what I'm saying. It's very easily fixed. Just simply let it go into the courts.
Mr. David Matas: As I said, what's lacking is the consolidation, the fragmentation, and that's the problem. Obviously the fragmentation makes it less efficient. If we had all of the steps instead of one that would be better.
There could and should be an appeal with leave, and we could add an additional ground of participation in war crimes.
I should say that I don't see anything particularly wrong with the matter going to cabinet right now. Mr. Petryshyn talked about the minister who started the revocation being present in cabinet. Well, I'm not sure that's a problem, but even if it is, cabinet can still function without that minister being present. You could have a cabinet meeting with one minister being absent and it would still be a relevant cabinet meeting.
I've also taken the position, which I circulated among you separately, that really all the cabinet is doing is looking again at the fraud issue. At least, legally all the cabinet is doing is looking again at the fraud issue and maybe looking at more recent information. It's an asymmetrical sort of appeal right now, because if the person loses in court they get a second kick at it through cabinet, but if the person wins in court, the government can't go to cabinet to get the court decision reversed. So the system gives an advantage to the person involved, which it doesn't give to the victims. That's one of the reasons we feel there should be an appeal, so that we'd have a symmetrical system so that either side can get a second recourse in a case where they feel the initial decision was wrong.
So those are the changes I suggest.
The Chair: Okay. Mr. Clavet.
Mr. Roger Clavet: Mr. Matas, thank you very much for this presentation. I also want to say that I worked in Manitoba for five years and that I'm familiar with the work you do with war refugees and immigrants in general. So I congratulate you and I thank you for the brilliant work you're doing.
As regards the proposals to improve the former Bill C-18 on citizenship, there have been some improvements over what there used to be. I understand from what you say that things haven't gone far enough. For example, the delays in revocation proceedings are still far too long.
Since the Federal Court hears those cases and appeal proceedings are nevertheless possible, do you think the bill has been improved and that we're headed in the right direction? Do you believe that an effort at improvement has been made?
Mr. David Matas: I would say yes. I've submitted proposals for all the bills, and I can see an improvement. I think the former Bill C-18 was better than the others. However, I would like to see even more changes. We weren't completely satisfied even with Bill C-18. We submitted a proposal when the House of Commons studied Bill C-18. We'll make another, more detailed written proposal to explain why we think there's a way to improve Bill C-18.
I believe Bill C-18 provided for a possibility of appeal, but that was an appeal in law, not an appeal with [Editor's Note: Inaudible]. But that's the kind of appeal we want because, if there's an appeal in law, everyone will file an appeal that will extend the process.
Second, there has been a kind of consolidation, but it's not complete. If a person is recognized as a war criminal, there is a consolidation. However, if it's proven that a person entered the country fraudulently, there's no consolidation. As I said, we want full consolidation.
We'll inform you of all that in writing.
Mr. Roger Clavet: Mr. Matas, do you think the revocation delays are still too long?
Mr. David Matas: Yes. We don't even know when things will be done because there has been no case here in which anyone has completed all the stages. And yet there are some who have been proceeding for 10 years, and that's still going on, as far as I know. Those cases should be closed, but that hasn't happened to date.
Mr. Roger Clavet: My next question concerns the number of Nazi war criminals who are still in Canada. I have an idea of the answer, but I'm asking you the question all the same.
After so many years and after the extensive research done by Judge Deschênes, which cost thousands of dollars and revealed that there are some war criminals here, a number of whom have died, are there still enough suspected war criminals for it to be worth the trouble, today, in 2005, of taking all the steps to revoke their status? Is it important to you that all those steps be taken even if there's only one left?
Mr. David Matas: I would say yes, as you already knew. First, there's more than one; there are even many. As time passes, it becomes difficult to prove that, but, as I said, my colleague, who worked in the government's offices said that there were originally 2,000. Now many have died and we can't prove their identity. However, I believe that's beside the point. There is more than one, but even if there were only one, we'd be accomplishing something if we tried that person because that's the best way to say there's no impunity in Canada. That's one way to make our legal system work in memory of the victims and of the story that took place before our eyes. It's one way of serving notice for the future. In our view, it's a way of saying that we're convinced there is justice in Canada. If we say no, even if there's only one person, it's a way of saying that we're opposed to justice. But we must never do that.
Mr. Roger Clavet: In closing,
don't you think wording like “Canada remains a haven for the worst criminals the planet has ever seen” is a bit strong? This is a little strong.
Mr. David Matas: Well, I suppose one could put it hypothetically, but the reality is nobody's left. Nobody has been convicted. There are lots of good cases -- and it's not just old cases. I mean, one of the reasons we need to get at the old cases is that those old cases were the foundation for the contemporary immunity of everybody. It's not just that we have old war criminals from the Nazi era here. We have Rwandan war criminals, Bosnian war criminals, and we can't do anything with them either.
Unless we get this system right -- and of course the fact that we weren't able to do anything with the old war criminals became a billboard advertisement that attracted all the contemporary war criminals here -- we're going to continue to draw these people from around the world. This is the reality because of the fact that we've been able to do nothing with the old war criminals.
Mr. Roger Clavet: Thank you very much, Mr. Matas.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We've actually run somewhat over our time.
I'd like to ask just a couple of questions.
I would have no problem with the act if we were actually dealing with war criminals. You know, we talk about suspected war criminals, and we talk about people who might be lying to get into the country. I really have difficulties with this.
If we were dealing with the same kind of case as the Air India case.... I mean, we had a situation there where a person was suspected -- and I dare say half the country, or all of the country, probably thought he was guilty just reading about it in the newspapers -- but the fact of the matter is that the court process prevailed.
So when I look through your brief, you talk about how there is evidence of complicity or how someone might have lied, might have been guilty of war crimes, but that doesn't establish that a person was guilty of whatever.
Now, we talked about due process of citizenship. I think the commonality to the due process of citizenship is when you take the importance of citizenship as outlined by Justice Reilly in his ruling on one of these cases last January, 2004. He said that the revocation of citizenship engages section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is the legal section. To me, the legal section talks about due process and about actually having a fair process in the courts.
You know, quite frankly, if there was a fair process in the courts I think these cases would have been dealt with. The Federal Court of Appeal last June took one of the cases that has been in the works for ten years and threw it out, reversed the decision of cabinet. It really is difficult to try to solve questions politically that should really be left to the courts to establish guilt and innocence free of political interference.
I guess my biggest concern is that we have six million Canadians who were not born in this country. I happen to be one of them. Half of the members on this committee weren't born in this country. To me, after I became a citizen, my citizenship is not a privilege; it's a right. If anybody is going to go after my citizenship, it has to be according to the legal section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It should have nothing to do with a committee of cabinet.
If we would have passed that amendment to the citizenship act back in 2000 at report stage that you and I agreed on, I think a lot of these problems we have would not exist. But instead we left in place a political process that doesn't pass muster with the courts. They lost the last two court cases, and we could have referred it to the Supreme Court of Canada. It would have been a great deal more preferable than to have had this long, drawn-out process, which has been very expensive and which, quite frankly, in my view devalues citizenship. If there is a war criminal here, I don't think there's anyone in Canada -- with the exception of the war criminals themselves -- who wouldn't want such a person out, but it has to be proven.
Could I get a quick comment from both of you on this?
Mr. David Matas: Yes.
First of all, one has to distinguish between criminal and civil cases. I do immigration and refugee law in a private practice, so I prepare refugee claims for people who are excluded from refugee protection on the basis that there's serious reason to believe they've participated in war crimes and crimes against humanity. That's just a double standard balance of probability. And that's what the revocation of citizenship is, a double standard balance of probability. It's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, because people aren't being punished. Revocation of citizenship is not a criminal penalty. They do not go to jail if their citizenship is revoked. And I do not accept that simply because you're dealing with double standards there's something wrong there.
Secondly, the law right now is revocation for fraud. And you say, well what about criminality? First of all, the government says that they will not go to court for fraud unless there's evidence of criminality. Second, if you look at the cases -- I mean, the cases aren't deciding of criminality, but they sure make findings that really involve criminality. I mentioned Odynsky, where Odynsky was a guard at a facility where people were later killed. I know enough about war crimes law to know that's a war crime, even though he didn't shoot anybody.
It was the same with Oberlander. Oberlander was an interpreter for a roving killing unit. He wasn't actually present at any executions, but he was interpreting for officials when they would be asking, “Where are the Jews?” He was interpreting in interrogations where the questions were “Where are the Jews?” So all you have to do is read those cases with the law of war crimes in mind and you will see findings of war criminality in the findings of fact, even though the judges, because their job is to find fraud and not war criminality, don't actually make a war criminality finding.
Third, in terms of the cases of Mr. Justice Reilly in the Ontario Superior Court in Oberlander and the Federal Court of Appeal in Oberlander, neither of them found that the system was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, either section 15 on equality or section 7 on fundamental justice. All he said was in that particular case, based on the facts of the case, something was wrong and needed to be redone. Reilly said that somebody who was in the cabinet meeting shouldn't have been there. But obviously you can have the cabinet meeting over again with that person not there.
The court of appeal said that something that should have been in the written report from cabinet wasn't there, but you can put in the written report what the court of appeal wanted without changing the system at all. As well, of course, Reilly's case was appealed, and the judge said that there was good reason to doubt the authority of that case, because there was good reason to doubt that he even had jurisdiction. So those cases do not attack the system at all.
What a committee of cabinet does is to allow someone to escape the rigours of the law. They've been found to have entered by fraud, and the cabinet can say that despite that, we're going to let you off, so to speak. But the fact that it goes to cabinet doesn't somehow create a disadvantage for these people; it gives them an advantage, as I say, that the government doesn't have if it loses the case.
If it was strictly in the court -- which is the case, for instance, for residency.... If you question whether or not you have the right residence for citizenship, you go to citizenship court; you don't get an appeal, you don't go to cabinet. There are other instances throughout the system where you go to court, you don't get an appeal, and you certainly don't go to cabinet. So here it gives the benefit of a cabinet chance, another chance. But that shouldn't become a reason to question the whole system.
The Chair: Thank you.
Go ahead, please, Mr. Petryshyn.
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: Yes, thank you.
The question was asked here about prosecuting people for war crimes. If you are going to charge somebody, charge them with that offence. Can you imagine if you were going to be charged with murder, but they really wanted to get you on a traffic offence? Think of it in that analogy.
When the Deschênes commission brought down its report, as was dealt with in the room today, there were procedures under Canadian legislation to present war crimes. In the Finta case that went to the Supreme Court, the Pawlowski case, and others, they didn't find the touchstone, the basis of our ability to convict somebody. For whatever reason, they could not convict them. Parliament then moved to add war crimes to our Criminal Code. If they really are a war criminal, charge them with being a war criminal so that's the case they're going to present.
The government says, “Well, you know, we can't convict you because we don't meet the test of our own legislation. Let's go in the back door. Now we're going to charge you with material representation. That's a balance of probability. We don't have the records. We don't have witnesses. You may have been in this division. You may have been there. You may have lied about who you were, and we think that's enough to take this matter through the process.” In section 18, as we pointed out, once the court makes its decision there is no appeal.
So a citizen is now being told, “We can't prove you are a war criminal under our legislation, although we could have prosecuted you. We know we're going lose, so we're going to go in the side, use a balance of probabilities, inference probabilities, and take that right away from you.”
The next step is for it to go to cabinet. Why cabinet or any politician would want to take on this decision is beyond me. It reminds me of the Diefenbaker-Pearson days with commuting the death penalty. No matter what you did, you were wrong. So why not let the court decide through the process of saying, “If you're going to be denaturalized, it's such a major event that it must be proved, that you're going to be denaturalized in a criminal court beyond a reasonable doubt.” That's all we're saying in that regard.
It only makes sense to have this kind of legislation put forward that is transparent, where the protection of the charter is there for everyone, as we have enunciated in the Supreme Court of Canada in the Singh case. That says anyone who is not even a citizen or a landed immigrant has the right of protection of the charter, that someone who is going to be deprived of their citizenship has the right to go to court.
I agree that if you're going to charge someone with the offence of being a war criminal, charge them with that. Don't use some other process, some other touchstone of evidence that we feel fails the system, and ultimately make a decision behind closed doors. Whether it is the citizenship minister or some other minister who decides, for whatever reason, they're going to move on this person or not -- as my friend pointed out, 15 years later they've done nothing -- what's the point of that? Can you imagine having that over your head? You're 80 years old, or you're 20 years old, you don't know what cabinet is going to decide, and you are not even a participant in your own fate. That's our concern.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We kind of ran over our time on this. We're going to take it away from you, David, in the afternoon. I'm only kidding.
Mr. David Matas: I promise I won't be as long.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Hon. David Anderson: I have a further supplementary as a result of your question.
The Chair: Okay, very quickly.
Hon. David Anderson: If we do say there will be no balance of probabilities and there will have to be a conviction, is there any logic in saying, when the application of an individual comes forward for entry into Canada, that we will take into account any involvement and ask any questions about past military activity, unless there had been a conviction? In other words, will we be stopped, because of what we do with respect to revocation, from actually asking those questions in the first instance?
Mr. David Matas: As usual, that's a very good question.
I'm involved in both ends of the process. With war criminality and crimes against humanity you don't necessarily know everything all at once, because people lie, because the evidence is destroyed, because people are repressed, because the structures are dispersed. It sometimes take a while to get together the evidence. The more you put it up front, so to speak -- and the system is too much up front right now -- the harder it is for people to get in.
Right now, there is a lot of sclerosis in the system, partly because of 9/11 but also because of the difficulty Canada has in revoking the citizenship of war criminals, the impossibility of revoking the citizenship of war criminals. It becomes extremely difficult now for people to get in where there is even a hint of an association, and I think it's much too extreme.
If you look at the front end of the system now there are cases where people are being denied who have the most tangential possible hypothetical association with war criminality, which is unfortunate. We talk about people waiting ten years for revocation, but we get people waiting that long for citizenship, waiting that long for permanent residence, waiting that long and then some for admission, because there is some suspicion of criminality.
What we need is a system that can get at these people no matter where they are in the system, so the system works in an even way, rather than creating an escalator so that the higher your status, the harder it is to prove, which is really the system that we have now.
Mr. John S. Petryshyn: Just briefly, I don't see estoppel being a prohibition. If you establish the criteria for revoking your citizenship based on what the legislation is, the person applying at that time knows the criteria they have to meet to be denaturalized. I don't know why, if in fact the person has misrepresented or lied, depending on what you are going to utilize as a touchstone of evidence.... It seems the legislation you are going to bring in will speak for itself.
I don't believe estoppel is going to come into effect. If you asked the person about their background and he still misrepresented, you still have the right to deal with the issue, for example, before they become a Canadian citizen as a landed immigrant. If he denies that he has a wife in country Y and then two years later, as a landed immigrant, decides to sponsor the wife from country Y, you still may use that evidence to say that he misrepresented the fact that he was married, a material fact, when he came into Canada.
So I don't think citizenship and the right to deal with issues when you are a landed immigrant as a result of misrepresentation should be an estoppel for this thing to be brought forward in the kind of legislation we are referring to.
The Chair: Okay. Thank you very much.
We are going to resume at 10 o'clock with new witnesses.