NUMBER 037 | 1st SESSION | 38th PARLIAMENT
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
The Chair (Hon. Andrew Telegdi (Kitchener—Waterloo, Lib.)): Today we're going to reconvene the hearings.
On the question of citizenship, we have Mr. Joe Taylor appearing as an individual. Welcome.
Please go ahead and make a presentation of up to seven minutes. Then we'll have questions and answers.
Mr. Joe Taylor (As an Individual): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I'd like to introduce myself. I'm the son of a Canadian serviceman who fought for this country in World War II and is buried in the Canadian Legion’s Field of Honour in Port Alberni. Yet I'm experiencing great difficulty in establishing my Canadian citizenship. My mother was a British war bride -- you heard about those earlier this morning -- and I was born in England while my father was in Europe fighting to defeat the German armed forces. My mother and I came to Canada in 1946 to set up home with my father on Vancouver Island, and I became a Canadian at that time.
My father had experienced the severe horrors of war and had a changed personality, which resulted in the early breakdown of the marriage. I was taken back to England by my mother, and I have lived there for most of my life. We travelled back to England on a Canadian passport, which I still have. In fact, here it is. It's nearly 60 years old. My mother and I have never renounced our Canadian citizenship, and I am very proud of my birthright.
We lost touch with my father very early on, and circumstances dictated that I was not in a position to come to Canada to try to find him until the late 1990s. It was only in November 2000 that I was informed that my father had died in 1996 and that I had seven half-brothers and half-sisters, all of whom live on Vancouver Island, whom I had never known about.
We were informed in December 2002 by Canada House in London that I had lost my Canadian citizenship on my 24th birthday as I had not filed forms requesting the retention of my status. The Canadian Bill of Rights acts retrospectively to protect whatever rights I acquired when I came to Canada, and I acquired citizenship, which was acknowledged by the representatives at Canada House.
The principles of natural justice dictate that before rights are taken from Canadian citizens, notice of the potential loss, an opportunity to respond, and a fair adjudication should occur. Natural justice is simply another way of describing the principle of fairness. My father and mother and I were not notified of the requirement that I make an application to retain my Canadian citizenship, nor was I able to respond to that potential loss. The process that was adopted seems most unfair, and I believe it came into force in 1952.
Canadian law relevant at the time I landed in Canada, July 1946, stated that the children of Canadian servicemen born while they were on active service abroad were to be deemed, when landing in Canada, as non-immigrant and have the same status as their father. In other words, I was supposed to be treated as if I was born in Canada -- and I underline that -- and therefore not subject to the 1952 regulations, which have been used to prevent me from being a Canadian and living in the country for which my father gave so much. These regulations were legislatively designed to affect children who were born abroad and not deemed to be born in Canada. The regulations should not be applied in circumstances such as mine.
I now have an application, which was lodged in November 2003 and is still awaiting processing at Sydney, Nova Scotia. Letters and e-mails to two previous citizenship and immigration ministers and some members of this committee have not even received replies. I would not be a burden to Canada as I will have my own pension income, which was earned by contributions paid over the years in England, and I currently own my homes in both countries.
But there are some important general issues arising from my personal situation. Canada seems to remove citizenship from its people more easily than most other countries, which gives the impression to the outside world that Canada treats its own people unfairly, contrary to the principles of natural justice.
Australia is currently drawing up legislation to unreservedly return citizenship to any of its former citizens who have at some stage lost this status.
In the year 2000, Trinidad and Tobago passed a similar law, which was very simple, and merely gave back citizenship to any former national who had lost their status. This legislation restored citizenship with effect from the date on which it had been lost. This amendment to their citizenship act was only half a page in length and demonstrates that it should not be too difficult to welcome your own children home.
Canada’s citizenship and immigration officials have been too fond of trying to say that there is no need to rectify this total injustice of taking away people’s birthright. I have heard them say that all that is necessary for the people concerned is for them to return to Canada to live for a year and then apply for citizenship. If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, Canada’s current requirements for permanent residency are unfairly weighted against anyone who is over 49 years of age, is not bilingual, did not obtain a master’s degree at university, and merely wishes to come home to Canada to retire. This makes it virtually impossible for any children of Canada’s World War II military heroes to qualify.
In most of the civilized world, it would be unacceptable that a claim for citizenship could be submitted and 16 months later still be in the processing stage. Not only that, but the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is still unable to even begin to forecast when the application might eventually be dealt with. When such matters are centrally important to people's lives, this can only be described as a total disgrace; Canada should be ashamed or, better yet, put in place a more efficient system for processing citizenship applications.
It has taken me most of my life to find my family and my country, my father and grandparents’ country. All I want to do now is to be allowed to live here as a Canadian. Surely, there must be some simple way this could be achieved. I would like to contribute to the Canadian economy. In fact, I've already started to do this by buying my own property here, fully furnishing it, and paying full property taxes to the City of Victoria for the last four years. I have done this in good faith, despite the unhelpfulness and rejection I have received from CIC. My wife and I have now been to Canada 14 times in the last five years, and we have been spending as much time here as we are legally permitted to do. Please let me come home to my own country.
I've got two or three observations. I'd like to know why a country would deliberately draw up legislation to take away citizenship from its own innocent children born overseas, merely because they were no longer living in Canada. What was Canada hoping to achieve by that? As far as that is concerned, up until this point it was accepted that if you were born a Canadian, you would always be a Canadian, unless you renounced that status. Why was that changed? Finally, and very importantly, why does CIC persist in ignoring Canada’s own laws?
I've appended some notes to the copies you've got, with the legal details of why I feel I am Canadian.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
I hope we can get a copy of your passport, so that we can attach it to....
Mr. Joe Taylor: The 60-year-old one?
The Chair: The 60-year-old one, that's right.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Its expired, I should add.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Chair: Yes, we only wish they wouldn't once you've got them.
We want to thank you very much for your presentation. Of course, you know that the committee passed...and dealt with this issue, and we're waiting for its final passage in the House of Commons.
I'm going to start with Mr. Inky Mark, for five minutes.
Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for appearing before the committee. Your story is as tragic as the war bride's story we heard this morning. It's so ironic that Canada, on the one hand, is seeking to increase its population numbers -- we talk about 1% -- and yet people who have a connection to this country are continually barred from entering, whether from bureaucratic bungling or whatever. It's sad to hear you telling us it's so difficult for someone to deal with the matter.
I could easily have been in your shoes. I was born abroad in a foreign country. It was only because of the Chinese exclusion act, which forced my father to go to China to have a family. Until the exclusion act was repealed after World War II, and the doors were opened in the early fifties.... But when I came over as a six-year-old, thank God our family had enough vision and gumption to ensure that I, as a little kid, became a citizen of this country. That could easily have been totally forgotten, and I'd probably be having the same problem becoming a citizen of this country.
I don't think there's any excuse for Canada to continue in the fashion it has with children born to Canadians abroad, or born in this country and removed and gone to live somewhere else. I think it's long overdue; as the chairman said, it's incumbent upon this committee to look into this matter and ensure that not only in your case but also in the war bride's circumstance we put this to rest and deal with it, because it's unjust.
Those are my comments.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Could I add to that?
In the legal details at the end of my statement you will see there was a specific order in council in Canadian law, when Canada was the British Dominion of Canada, that came into force three months before my birth. It stated that the children, and indeed wives and dependants, of Canadian servicemen serving overseas...if those children were born overseas, upon landing in Canada they had to be deemed to be non-immigrant; they had acquired the status of the father. So it was clearly set out.
Whenever I've made inquiries and tried to come here over the last 30 years -- come here on a permanent basis -- CIC has consistently misinformed me. They haven't looked back far enough. I've seen so many amendments to your Citizenship Act, like the 1977 one, that start out specifically referring to children born in Canada after January 1, 1947.
No one thinks about anyone who might have been born a year or two prior to that. I seem to have slipped through a crack in the floorboard.
Mr. Inky Mark: Your circumstance also brings to my mind our future, because our armed forces are serving around the world. Our foreign office has members serving around the world.
Mr. Joe Taylor: They're serving in Afghanistan at the moment.
Mr. Inky Mark: They're going to encounter the same kinds of problems down the road if we don't deal with these issues.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
I made a reference to the “lost Canadian”. It doesn't apply. It won't solve the problem. So it's going to be incumbent on the committee to try to deal with that.
Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to apologize to Mr. Taylor for being late. I assumed we were starting at 1:15 p.m. I'm always surprised when I walk in. I try to be punctual. I'm trying to maintain the punctuality gene and not the parliamentarians' sense of time that I've noticed around the Hill.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Apology accepted.
Mr. Bill Siksay: I have looked at the part of your brief that I missed, the part of your presentation that I missed. I have just a couple of questions.
You said you haven't had any response on several letters to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Is there outstanding correspondence with the current minister? Have you tried that angle again?
Mr. Joe Taylor: Yes, incidentally, there is. The first letter I started writing in this recent session of trying to establish that I can come here went to Denis Coderre, who was then the citizenship and immigration minister. I e-mailed and wrote to him. I've had no response at all to either to this day.
I similarly wrote to Judy Sgro when she was minister, and she totally ignored me and did not reply.
Currently, I have written to Joe Volpe. I also wrote to the Right Honourable Paul Martin. I had a reply from the Right Honourable Paul Martin's office stating that the matters I'd raised were citizenship and immigration ones. They were passing my papers to Joe Volpe. On the same day that I wrote to the Prime Minister I had indeed written to Joe Volpe, because I was aware of what my situation was. I still haven't had a reply from Joe Volpe, not to the original letter, nor now that he's been prompted by Paul Martin.
Mr. Bill Siksay: My experience is that it takes a couple of months usually to get a response from a minister. So hopefully we'll be third-time lucky on this, and if not, hopefully some of us can help you get that kind of response to your questions.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you.
Mr. Bill Siksay: You mentioned Australia is planning on doing something to restore citizenship to the Australians who might have lost it. Do you know anything about the debate in Australia that's leading to that legislation or what that legislation looks like?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I picked this up recently on a website. There's an organization there called the Southern Cross Association that has been campaigning for some time. It's a bit similar to the Bill S-2 situation.
The Australian government has now agreed that they are giving it priority, and they are writing the act. The way it will be written will be to merely return citizenship without any questions to any former citizens. Interestingly enough, one of the points they made was that they're going to do this even where the reason the person has lost their citizenship is that they renounced it. They will still be given it back.
As I said in my testimony, in no way have I ever renounced my Canadian citizenship. I always thought I was half Canadian and half British.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Do you have any sense of how many people are in the same position as you are?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I should imagine they're becoming fewer by the moment, the longer CIC sits on our files.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Right. But you don't have any sense of the exact number?
Mr. Joe Taylor: No, I've no idea what the number might be.
Mr. Bill Siksay: I asked Mrs. Lyster this morning if she'd ever sought legal advice about a legal challenge to this situation. Have you ever done that, had legal advice from anyone about how you might proceed that way?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I currently have a lawyer here in Victoria working on my behalf. I'm waiting. When CIC finally, after however many years they take, look at the file, I'm expecting them to come back with what I've been told before, that I lost my citizenship on my 24th birthday, which is wrong, if they look at the law in depth and go back to consider the real law. When that comes back, our plan has been to actually launch an appeal and to ask for a judicial review, if it gets to that stage. But I'm hoping sense will prevail before that.
Mr. Bill Siksay: You don't know of anyone else who has taken that route for similar reasons?
Mr. Joe Taylor: No, not that I'm aware of.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Thank you. I hope we're able to push this to some resolution.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Ms. Beaumier.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier (Brampton West, Lib.): Thank you.
Mr. Taylor, I'm very pleased that you're here. We often get letters from people across the country. When you read such a letter, or even read your submission, it's compelling; however, as you can imagine, dealing with individual cases.... Many of us have a lot in our constituency.
I don't know the answers to any of the questions you pose; however, be assured that your appearance before the committee now makes your submission and your request much more compelling to us. I think this is something you will have a commitment from this committee to look into.
I'm not sure where we go from here, but you will be getting a letter from Mr. Volpe --
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier: -- and hopefully some answers from Immigration in general.
Am I correct in saying that, Mr. Chair?
The Chair: Well, certainly you're going to have one committee pushing for responses very hard.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you.
Ms. Colleen Beaumier: As I said, I don't have any answers for you, but I'm certainly quite impressed, quite moved by your commitment to Canada and by you feeling you are a Canadian citizen.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you very much indeed.
I came this morning and listened to various people. I tried to put myself in the position that if I were doing this the other way around, if I were trying to re-establish English or British citizenship from being here in Canada, I doubt very much whether I would be given an opportunity such as I've been given here today to appear before the actual committee of members of Parliament who are dealing with the subject. I think that would be almost impossible, unheard of in England. Thank you very much indeed for inviting me here.
The Chair: Mr. Taylor, your case and all the cases we've been hearing reinforce in my mind something I've come to a conclusion on, which is that the department of citizenship should be separated from the department of immigration. My rationale for it is very simple. I think the citizenship department need a much different mentality from what you get in the immigration department. A department of citizenship should be advocating on behalf of people like yourself. I'm hoping that someday that will come to pass.
I cannot state strongly enough my abhorrence at how we have taken citizenship issues and treated them like a used Kleenex.
Mr. Anderson, do you have anything?
Hon. David Anderson (Victoria, Lib.): Yes, I have a few questions.
I apologize, like Mr. Siksay; I'm afraid I came in at a quarter after one. Perhaps, as you talked about, we're developing that parliamentary attitude to time. I do apologize.
How long were you in Canada after arriving here in 1946?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I believe it was only five months before the situation became too unbearable for my mother and she went and I back.
Hon. David Anderson: Okay. Then you talked in your brief about an earlier citizenship application on the basis of the 1952 regulations. When was that application put in and rejected?
Mr. Joe Taylor: There have been a couple of situations. For the first inquiry I made, after I got through my education, married, and had two children, I wanted to come back to Canada, which was as long ago as 1972. I made inquiries at Canada House in London. I gave them my particulars, including the fact that I'd been born to a Canadian military serviceman.
I wasn't clued in enough at that time to know how complicated this issue was. I think they effectively misinformed me. They made no mention of the fact that I had been a citizen and that maybe I had lost my citizenship on my 24th birthday, or anything like that. All they did was send me some application papers for a permanent residency, which I completed.
If I had been able to come here to live at that point, the necessary requirement that went with that was I would have had to get my father to sign it and sponsor me. I sent those papers, fully completed, to the last known address I had for my father here on Vancouver Island in Cumberland, but they never came back to me. I could only assume he had moved to another address.
I then had to get on with my life for another 25 years. I set up an accountancy practice and brought up my family before I again tried to come back to my homeland.
The first application you talked about was actually, I believe, in November or December 2002. I gave it to Canada House in London. They were to have vetted the various forms to see that they were all authentic and not photocopies, etc., before passing the papers to Sydney, Nova Scotia, but they didn't even bother to send the papers to Sydney, Nova Scotia. They sent all the papers back to me and told me I was wasting my time. This was the first time I ever heard about the 1952 regulations that said if Canadian children born overseas don't return to Canada before they're 21 years old and make it their home, they will lose their citizenship. They rejected it on those grounds.
It was at that point that I went to see a lawyer here in Victoria. He helped me to fill out a new application form. He sent quite a comprehensive document pointing out why I hadn't in fact lost my citizenship, if you looked at the real law, the Canadian law, that was particular at the time. I submitted that in November 2003, a year later. It's the application that is currently gathering dust in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Hon. David Anderson: Going back to the dates, was it in 1972 or thereabouts that you put in the application?
Mr. Joe Taylor: It was the first time that I made a conscious effort to try to come here with my family to live.
Hon. David Anderson: Did you go to the lawyer in Victoria at that time or was it with the most recent application?
Mr. Joe Taylor: No. This was the more recent session when I tried again. Now that I'm reaching retirement age, I wanted to come home. I started to try to put that into motion round about 1999-2000.
Hon. David Anderson: The application was submitted in November 2003. Was it submitted in Britain?
Mr. Joe Taylor: It was in Britain. I had an acknowledgment from them that this time they did agree to at least forward it to Sydney, Nova Scotia, which was a big improvement from the year before. It was dated December 4, 2003. I now know that CIC in Sydney acknowledged receiving it on December 23, 2003.
They've still told me nothing. I've had two members of Parliament chase them, and in fact your office has very kindly chased it for me, but you had virtually a zero response. My lawyer has done the same and has had the same response over the course of the last eight or nine months. The most recent one was only within this last month. They still have done nothing.
Hon. David Anderson: We're dealing then with the November 2003 application. You had one acknowledgement in December and silence since then.
Mr. Joe Taylor: That's right.
Hon. David Anderson: Okay. Thank you very much.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski (Oak Ridges—Markham, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Taylor.
You made a great presentation, although you were somewhat concerned beforehand.
Mr. Joe Taylor: I have never done any public speaking before in my life and I was extremely nervous to have to come to address you here.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Heavens, don't be nervous. You're on an island, represented by --
Mr. Joe Taylor: As I indicated earlier, I think it's a different world in Canada than it is in England.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: I wanted to ask a little bit about the passport situation. You have a 60-year-old passport.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Fifty-eight years.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Fifty-eight years old. So you were quite young at the time?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I'm part of my mother's passport, I should explain.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Have you applied for another passport? When you apply for a passport, you have to give them an old passport, if you have one.
Mr. Joe Taylor: I'm not parting with this.
The Chair: We need a copy of it. Maybe a certified original copy would do, along with the --
Mr. Joe Taylor: You can have as many certified copies as you want. I'm keeping that.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: But he just wants to take a copy.
The Chair: My suggestion is maybe having a certified true copy sent in with an application for a new passport. That may also remove some of the webs --
Mr. Joe Taylor: I believe when you apply for a passport here, you have to supply things like social insurance numbers and driver's licence details. Those I don't possess yet.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: You do have a driver's licence from somewhere else.
Mr. Joe Taylor: A U.K. driving licence, yes.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: Identification, maybe. But it's not a bad idea to try.
Mr. Joe Taylor: You think this is another route I could try. I just thought one couldn't get a passport unless you were a citizen.
Mr. Lui Temelkovski: If I had a passport previously, I'd be very concerned that, whatever country it was, they would not issue me another passport.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): I thought we had heard some strange tales in this committee, but my goodness, I can't imagine reaching a very mature age and being well established, and all of a sudden finding out that some bureaucratic rule hadn't been followed and therefore your whole identity has been changed.
Mr. Joe Taylor: One of the big aspects about it that I find disturbing is that a bureaucrat in Ottawa can sit down and change something as fundamental as one's citizenship and not even bother to tell the people who were concerned. They didn't write to me; they didn't write to my mother or my father. They just made this little tweak to the regulations to the Citizenship Act in 1952, and that was it. No one who was as seriously affected by it as myself was even told. I was 5,000 miles away, aged about seven years at the time.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Thinking as a lawyer, there must be some principle of natural justice that would prevent a person from losing fundamental rights -- like identity, citizenship -- without some kind of notice. You can't be sued and be subject to penalties under our legal system without notice, and yet essentially that's what happened to you. Have you ever argued that, or has that been argued on your behalf?
Mr. Joe Taylor: I don't think you were in at the start of my presentation, because I did --
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: No. But have you argued this in an appeal process or any kind of a judicial proceeding? What's been the response to it?
Mr. Joe Taylor: We haven't gone as far as appeal yet, because I have to wait until CIC give their ruling. They don't seem to be in a great hurry to do that, as the application has been in for 16 months. I'm told that there are no notes on the file; nothing has been done at all.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: How long has it been?
Mr. Joe Taylor: Sixteen months.
I started chasing about eight or nine months ago. I said earlier, two members of Parliament here have chased on my behalf and got very little by way of response. My lawyer has done likewise and can get no sense out of them. I'm still sitting here waiting for a response.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Now here's my question.
You're here in front of the committee, obviously trying to make policy-makers aware of this anomaly and this situation, and this unjust circumstance. Is there anyone in the process themselves, any element of the department, is there any avenue of appeal that you're aware of?
It seems to me, you shouldn't have to hope that you can catch the attention of a group of politicians before you can get your question dealt with. What are you finding there? I know you've made this application. Is there nobody who has been able to say yea or nay to you?
Mr. Joe Taylor: The most recent information I have is that CIC has still done nothing. I was told that probably the only way I was going to get anywhere was to contact the minister's office, i.e., Joe Volpe's office, directly. But as I explained earlier, I've written to him, and I've written to his two predecessors. I've e-mailed them and I've written on many occasions. They will not even reply to me, so far.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that one of the things we need to do is have some kind of an ombudsman or a conduit so at least these matters would be considered. You shouldn't have to hope that you catch the attention of a busy minister with an individual case before you can get something done.
All I can say to the witness is I think, based on your testimony, certainly I will be pressing to have some kind of a remedial system or mechanism put into place so at least you can get an answer. Keeping someone sitting for 18 months is not what you would call a professional way to run a department.
Mr. Joe Taylor: I've been devoting a large portion of my life for the last five years to this. The notes you find at the end with the quotes from the Canadian Nationals Act of 1910 and 1927, orders in Privy Council -- I've had to research all those. I'm not a lawyer and I've had to try to find all this out.
Like Eswyn before me this morning, my house is full of pieces of paper, and it's eating up what's left of my life. I really just want to come back here to be a good Canadian citizen and live in my homeland, in the country I view to be my home.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Thank you.
The Chair: I think one of the things your case points out is that for the average individual, it's a very horrendously expensive, slow, cumbersome process to take on the state. I mentioned before you came in, Ms. Ablonczy, that I think Citizenship should be a stand-alone department from Immigration because it has to be something that actually advocates for people.
We will look into the case of the situation in Australia. We are supposed to be meeting with the high commissioner's office at some point, and we're actually looking to getting over there as well at some point.
Thank you very much for your testimony. You did a great job, and you don't need to be nervous when you're in front of us. The only people who need to be nervous when they're in front of us are the bureaucrats.
Mr. Joe Taylor: Well, I'm very pleased to hear that. Thank you very much, indeed.
The Chair: Thank you.
We're going to suspend for a minute until we get set up, and then we'll reconvene.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): I'll bring the committee back to order.
Welcome, Mr. Galloway. You have seven minutes to make your presentation. Then we'll ask you a few questions.
Mr. Donald Galloway (As an Individual): Thank you, Mr. Mark.
I should introduce myself first. My name is Donald Galloway. I am a professor of law at the University of Victoria. I teach immigration and refugee law. For three years, from 1998 to 2001, I was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board in the Vancouver office.
I have presented you with a hastily written brief. I apologize for the haste in which it was written. I only realized a few days before the deadline that it had to be submitted.
I'll try to make my remarks as quickly as possible. I've decided to frame my presentation today around the questions that were raised in the news release of February 28, 2005 from this committee, and to also deal with some of the issues that were raised in the report that was tabled in November.
The first question I addressed was the question on whether the form of the Citizenship Act that exists at the moment is too minimalist and should contain other factors. I think the particular issue that was raised in the question is on whether it should contain reference to the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
The point I make on the first page of my brief is that I think the minimalist nature of the act is a problem, and it's a problem that has serious implications. I'm not sure it's necessary, and it might be quite difficult, to actually identify all the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizens. It might be useful to identify certain constitutional rights that attach to the status, and these could be emphasized within the act.
More importantly, though, I think a Citizenship Act should actually be transparent as to the purposes, the values, and the principles that underlie it. Currently, our Citizenship Act has no reference at all to our understanding of what it is to be a citizen. I would suggest that any thoughts about amendment should pay attention to the idea of a preamble that identifies what the values and principles are.
On the practical implications, I think you are probably aware of the difficulties the Federal Court has in interpreting the criteria for naturalization, particularly the criterion of residency. We exist in a legal framework where the ultimate decision-makers on what these criteria are disagree strongly about the limits of the criteria that are identified.
I will come back to that in a second. The first thing I want to stress is reference to the values of citizenship.
The second point is on what these values are. I think the values of citizenship have been redefined over the years since 1946. When Paul Martin Sr. introduced the first bill, he wanted to make the point that it was important to have a Citizenship Act to stress the sovereignty of Canada and its independence and that we could use a Citizenship Act in order to promote our international status. In recent years, I think a different focus has been attached to the notion of citizenship with the idea that we should use our citizenship laws to add to our understanding of national unity, to promote national unity, and to create some form of social coherence.
In my second paragraph I tried to identify that while these ideas are valid, they should also be tempered with other notions and with other values. While listening to Joe Taylor this afternoon, you're well aware that issues about individual justice count as much as issues about social coherence and national unity. I would also recognize that we're not only talking about matters of justice towards individuals who are seeking the status; we are also talking about the interests of individuals who want to pass on the status to their children, whether they are natural children or adopted children.
I would like to emphasize -- I'm sure you've this heard often -- the difficulties adoptive parents face in bringing their children back to the country.
I think the Canadian government has been ambivalent about international adoptions. I don't think it has come out and said that it actually approves of international adoptions, and as a result I think we have a wishy-washy law where adopted kids are not actually identified as Canadians at the point of adoption. I think the issue of whether we identify this process as being a valid process is one that is worth addressing, and I think this committee is well placed to address that.
I would also like to make a pitch, given the position of Canada in the modern world, that we adopt a generous notion of citizenship. We are well placed to do that.
We have to think about the consequences of rejecting individuals from the status of citizenship. Most of my paragraphs that follow ask the question, what should an inclusive and generous citizenship policy look like?
In my third paragraph I identify the issue of birthright citizenship, and I address the question that's raised in the news release about whether there should be any limitation placed upon birthright citizenship.
In January 1 this year the Irish Republic placed restrictions on its citizenship laws identifying that mere birth in Ireland was no longer going to be enough. You actually had to be born to parents who had a substantial connection with the country, and the actual law excludes, by definition, refugee claimants, and I think it also excludes students.
I think we shouldn't use our citizenship law in this way to control the flow of refugee claimants. I think the issues are quite different. We have to separate them. I think it demeans our citizenship law if we use it in that instrumental way.
I also think that using our citizenship law in a way that doesn't recognize the amount of time successful and unsuccessful refugee claimants spend in the country doesn't pay sufficient attention to the justice issues that are raised in relation to their children who are born in Canada and who will, de facto, be long-term residents. Whether it is because their parents are successful claimants or whether it is because we don't know how to create an effective way of resolving their status quickly, we will have long-term children of refugee claimants. I think part of my pitch is that it is the length of time one relates to the Canadian community that should be the determinative factor in making a decision about whether citizenship is due.
In my fourth paragraph I identify the position of individuals who are born outside the country, and I identify first that our laws as they exist are a rough and ready proxy. They operate in a way that identifies that if your parent was born outside the country and you were born outside the country, then it's very likely you're not going to have a strong connection. It's likely only your grandparent will actually be in Canada.
I would like you to recognize that in a mobile world -- and this is a very rough and ready approximation -- people leave the country for all sorts of reasons, temporarily, and have children in the most inconvenient of places.
While we may be interested in identifying that children who have small connection to the country -- perhaps only through a grandparent -- should not get citizenship, we should tailor our laws to that end. We shouldn't rely upon these approximations that are currently found within the Citizenship Act.
In this paragraph on children who are born outside the country, I also identify that the children of permanent residents may also have a claim to Canadian citizenship if they are born outside the country.
One of the things you ask in your news release is how we actually manage strategies for celebrating citizenship. I'd like to ask you to think just as much about celebrating the contribution of permanent residents who for some reason, over which they have no control, are unable to take out the status of citizenship. The fact that some of them will have to go back and tend to ailing parents, and may inconveniently have children at the time, does not mean they have failed to make a commitment to this country. It's just that their lives have other commitments.
Lastly, I want to draw to your attention in paragraph six the position of the child citizen whose parents are non-citizens threatened with deportation. This is a very tricky problem to solve, and I don't have an easy solution. But if citizenship is going to mean anything, it must take into consideration the point of view of the child. The child cannot vote and doesn't have the rights of adults. If a child's parents are deportable, the child's citizenship means next to nothing. The way in which the law is structured does not give sufficient security to the child citizen. I am suggesting that we think about reversing who has the burden of proof about removal.
I have many other points in my brief, but the chairman is --
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): Thank you, Mr. Galloway. You've taken ten minutes and we'll take five minutes from each of the parties.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: You've made some interesting suggestions. You talked about the value of citizenship. I wonder if you could propose to the committee, from your experience and thought, what you think would be a good description of the value of citizenship.
Mr. Donald Galloway: We have an idea of the good citizen, as well as the person who has only the status of citizenship. We recognize that the good citizen is somebody who has a commitment of loyalty. We have a crime of treason. We recognize that there are obligations that you have towards the community.
It's interesting that citizenship is seen as being a national status, but in dealing with other citizens we live locally. The idea of citizenship we usually live with is framed in our local obligations to those we meet in public life on a city basis. That's important to take into account. With respect to obligations, making demands of individuals is important.
Internationally, we have to recognize that citizens are owed protection by their government, that they have this basic right. Entitlement to the status is based on the type of interaction you have with Canadians. Historically, this has been geographical interaction. Interestingly, virtual interactions are going to become common in the future. This is going to challenge our notion of community and the part the individual plays in it.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Could you expand on virtual interaction?
Mr. Donald Galloway: Much of my work is done with people I rarely see. I send drafts of my work to Italy or the United States. I get comments back in daily conversations with people I might see once a year. I am part of a number of communities. Universities are perhaps more like this than other institutions. But businesses, big and small alike, also maintain relationships that have no geographic centre.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: That's an interesting concept that we haven't discussed, Mr. Galloway. You talked about citizenship containing a commitment of loyalty. Yet you see no problem with multiple citizenship. I'm wondering how you square divided citizenship with loyalty to a particular country.
Mr. Donald Galloway: I don't say there are no difficulties. I think the difficulties that were identified in the early 1990s in the committee report, A Sense of Belonging, are not difficulties. I think difficulties can arise, particularly when military issues are at stake. Serving two armies can be a very serious problem that has to be thought about.
I don't want to undermine the idea that we have a problematic notion; nevertheless, the biggest difficulties are hypotheticals rather than real problems people face in their daily lives. I see no problem with loyalty to a country you live in while retaining a passport in another country that allows you to slip into that country through the short line rather than the long line. Just because I have two passports doesn't make me less of a Canadian. It doesn't detract at all. I have many conflicting loyalties in my life and I seem to work them out, sometimes with difficulty, sometimes with ease.
Maybe I should just leave it there.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): Thank you.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Professor Galloway, for your presentation. It was very helpful, and you've some raised some issues we haven't heard much about before, so I appreciate that. They are very important ones.
In your third section on birthright citizenship you mentioned all individuals who were stripped of their citizenship under laws and regulations no longer in force. We've heard about the situation of people that Bill S-2 tries to address. We heard this morning from war brides and the children of servicemen who came to Canada after the Second World War, or who were families of service people in the Second World War. Are there others you know of that you could tell us about?
Mr. Donald Galloway: Those are the ones I was thinking about. But the lesson from the testimony you've heard -- and I think I know some of the stories you refer to -- is that we have a system of cracks. Quite frankly, when I try to do research on citizenship law, which even I see as my specialty, I get back to 1947 and start looking at regulations there. The complexity boggles my mind -- the change from 1947, what went before that, and how the act actually identifies the pre-existing law, builds some of it in and takes some of it away.
It's incumbent upon not me but the government to actually sort this mess out to identify.... I don't have the resources, time, or brain power to do that. I bet there are other cracks that people have fallen into.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Given the fact that some of the people have had such a hard time getting an opinion from the government on their status, it sounds like they're having a hard time figuring it out too. But I appreciate where the onus should be in that circumstance.
Your section 7 on criteria of naturalization talks about erasing the knowledge requirements for naturalization. I just wonder if you can expand on why you think that's important.
Mr. Donald Galloway: The United Kingdom a number of years ago decided to have a citizenship test, and out of the blue I got a phone call from The Times of London saying that the U.K. was thinking about adopting a test very much like the Canadian test, and they asked if I had an opinion on the Canadian test. The only thing I could think of to say at the time was, “It's hokey. It's not a test. It doesn't take account of people's experience within the country.” I'm also really concerned about the way it's administered and how much discretion it actually gives to citizenship judges.
My own experience of taking out citizenship -- which I won't bore you with today -- was quite a revealing one about the amount of discretion officials have. I don't think it's knowledge about national politics or provincial politics that actually defines who a citizen is. It's much more telling how much work people are doing within the community.
I wouldn't mind a fast-track system, if you like, to give special preference to people who show that they have a particular reason why they need citizenship fast and who know a lot about the community because they have lived here, or whatever. But our basic rules about citizenship, the central idea, should be tied to location, to geography, or to your relationship -- what the law seems to call the substantial connection.
I'm really concerned that we use these artificial criteria to withhold the right to vote -- which I think it comes down to -- from people who have made contributions of many kinds to our community.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Do I have a bit more time?
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): Yes, about half a minute.
Mr. Bill Siksay: Just on the question of a limitation being placed on the ability of government to revoke citizenship, is there an appropriate time period the government should have to initiate that action, and if so, what is it?
Mr. Donald Galloway: Well, that's a tricky one. I want to raise the idea because I don't think the idea is actually out there -- I don't know. You may have heard it before in the committee, but I certainly am not hearing that this is in the cards in the near future in any citizenship bill that is going through. I think we have to recognize, though, that not every person who has lied or made a false statement or withheld information when they were coming into the country is a war criminal. And not every war criminal is the most serious war criminal.
What I'm really advocating is that we take war criminals aside and say, fine, let's deal with the more serious war criminals in a particular way, but let's not use that as the model for making a determination about this really important status. To be able to revoke a citizenship, to render somebody potentially stateless, is one of the most important and most influential powers a government has.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): Thank you very much.
For our last five minutes, before the top of the hour, Mr. Anderson.
Hon. David Anderson: Thank you for a very comprehensive brief. You go on through many paragraphs, each of which could take this committee a few days. And I do appreciate very much the fact that you talked about multiple loyalties. This has not yet been properly, or at least thoroughly, looked at by this committee. The point you make I think is well worth our taking a good look at. That said, I'm not going to ask you to go on to that now.
I'll just ask you, however, for information on another one, which we have discussed a lot and I think we'll probably come to some conclusions on, and that is the issue in the immediately following paragraph, number 9, revocation of citizenship. You said you would urge a limitation period be placed on the ability of government to revoke citizenship for reasons of false representation, except perhaps in the most extreme cases.
Currently the situation is that citizenship is revoked because of a material misrepresentation or at least a false representation or fraud, or by knowingly concealing material circumstances. Those are the grounds. And this relates to your previous comment about the need for justice for other people, which again I think you made very effectively. Surely if someone got into Canada having lied, had they told the truth as others did, they would have been treated as those other were -- namely, denied entry. Is it fair, then, to say that those people who told the truth initially and were denied are being treated fairly, when the person who lied is granted status as though his words had been the truth?
I think this is an important issue, because these are the only grounds that I know of that are being used for the denial of citizenship. We all know there are hypothetical potentials. You've mentioned a very important one -- service in a foreign army. And I agree, that's pretty important, particularly when you think of those Canadians, some Canadian born, who went to serve in some of the more murderous militias in the Balkans during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and others who've served in Lebanon and elsewhere.
So I just wonder how you can draw that line.
Mr. Donald Galloway: I recognize that there's a conflict. I think it's interesting that in the report you tabled in November, you identify that the relationship between the state and the individual is contractual in nature. I think that's an interesting but mistaken idea.
For those of us who have been born in Canada, we don't have that contract. What is it about the relationship between what used to be referred to as the natural-born Canadian and the state that gives rise to obligations on either side? It's the interaction. We use birthright citizenship as an understanding. This person, born in Canada, is likely to be raised in Canada, is likely to be spending their life in Canada, is likely to be a de facto Canadian. There's no contract there. There's an idea that your obligations are created on a day-by-day basis through actually living as a Canadian.
When we naturalize individuals, certainly it begins to look contractual. It used to be a little pink slip when you came into the country as a landed immigrant and then the citizenship certificate. Now you have two little cards. You give up one and you take the other. There's the contract.
But what I'm suggesting is this person is living within the community as a Canadian, and year after year, day after day, more and more roots are grown, such that the idea of revoking their status on the basis of a contractual misrepresentation, which may just be a failure to provide full information or it may be that a marriage existed....
Hon. David Anderson: You're a professor of law. Would you say that in a situation where land has been acquired through misrepresentation of material fact, after a certain length of time, because you'd occupied it, because you'd used it, because people had assumed you owned it, it becomes yours? Or, for example, take the situation of a marriage, where the expectation is that there would be a husband and wife, and yet because one had been previously married, it was void. Nevertheless, they'd been recognized as husband and wife for maybe 10 years. It could be that due to wills or some other aspect the children could be disadvantaged or because of the failure of those people to be married in a church or in accordance with civil procedure. So individuals do get disadvantaged by reason of this contractual relationship you're talking about, which is ab initio false, but appears to be real. What you're saying is that in a specific case of citizenship, you'll recognize it as real, but not in these other situations of law.
Mr. Donald Galloway: When we look at who's the harm sufferer here, you originally wanted to compare the individual with the person who didn't get the status. Well, that person isn't really harmed by the action. That person is just disappointed that they didn't get it either.
My only suggestion is that if you live as a Canadian, if you interact as a Canadian, at some stage we have to think about you being a Canadian.
Hon. David Anderson: I'll certainly hire you if I cheat on the lottery and win, when somebody else was just disappointed.
It seems to me we have to explore this further, but I have no time.
Mr. Donald Galloway: I can reduce it to one sentence: it goes to my idea that our notion of citizenship is this connection with the community. People build those, and they can overwhelm a misrepresentation that was made often under stress or because of concern about making sure you say what the official wants you to say.
The Vice-Chair (Mr. Inky Mark): Mr. Galloway, there's no doubt that we could listen to you for another hour. We thank you for your brief and your answers.
Mr. Donald Galloway: Thank you for hearing me.