5. Eliminating barriers to Canadian citizenship

Nov 2018
Whereas:
  1. The Citizenship Act requires “adequate” knowledge of English or French, and of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship; these requirements are translated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to require:
    1. up-front proof of Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4/ Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) niveau 4, and
    2. achieving a score of at least 15/20 on the citizenship exam which can only be written in English or French;
  2. Women, refugees, and sponsored spouses’ applications for Canadian citizenship are disproportionately refused because of these particular requirements;
  3. There are several known factors that impede additional language acquisition including: trauma; low literacy in one’s first language; lack of access to formal education; first language distance from English/French, and socio-economic needs;
  4. The current “compassionate waiver” framework from these requirements emphasizes the need to prove a permanent medical condition through completion of a Medical Opinion Form;
  5. Challenging citizenship refusals requires obtaining leave from the Federal Court, and therefore the need to hire a lawyer;
  6. The citizenship fee has tripled in the past 5 years, and is now $630 for adults.
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR call upon the Canadian government to:

  1. Ensure the administration of the citizenship regime conforms with the Act to:
    1. Reduce the language and knowledge requirements to the “adequacy” required;
    2. Ensure broad compassionate discretion in the assessment of waivers from language and knowledge requirements, and eliminate the Medical Opinion Form.
  1.  Amend the Citizenship Act to:
    1. Remove the English/French language requirement for writing the citizenship exam
    2. Revert to the ability of citizenship applicants to challenge a refusal in Federal Court as of right, given the importance of the rights at stake.
    3. Eliminate the fee.

1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action

Jun 2016
Whereas:
  1. Newcomers to Canada like all Canadian residents are treaty peoples;
  2. The federal, provincial and territorial governments have a responsibility to make newcomers aware of treaties and the history of residential schools, and support their full participation as treaty peoples;
  3. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada issued 94 Calls to Action to federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments in its final report in December;
  4. TRC Calls to Action #93 and #94 specifically charge the federal government with providing a “more inclusive history of diverse Aboriginal peoples in Canada, including information about the Treaties and history of residential schools” and revising the Citizenship Oath to include swearing to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples”;
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR:

  1. Call on federal, provincial and territorial governments to:
    1. Move quickly to allow newcomers to understand and affirm the treaty relationship by implementing Calls to Action #93 and #94;
    2. Develop strategies in consultation with Aboriginal governments to ensure their implementation, and provide resources‎;  
  2. Call on federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal governments to implement in a timely manner all the other TRC Calls to Action 

2. Citizenship

May 2014
Whereas:

Citizenship is fundamental to who we are as a country;

Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR take the position that citizenship laws and policies must:

  1. Respect the principle that all citizens are equal.
  2. Embrace newcomers and encourage them to quickly become full participating members of our society.
  3. Recognize the barriers that some newcomers face to full participation, including the particular barriers faced by refugees who have suffered persecution and long years of deprivation.
  4. Respect the principle that citizenship is a status from which rights derive, and is thus similar to our status as human beings. It is not something that can be lost through behaviour.
  5. Have clear and transparent criteria about acquisition and loss of citizenship.
  6. Ensure that individuals have access to a fair hearing before an independent decision-maker, with the right of appeal. Decisions should not be made on a discretionary basis by the Minister.

1. Treaties

May 2014
Whereas:
  1. The CCR resolved in November 2013 to honour all the Treaties upon which this country is founded and which bind all of us as treaty peoples;
  2. Newcomers to Canada enter into that treaty relationship when they become resident in this country;
  3. The State does not make newcomers aware of their treaty responsibilities;
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR call on the government of Canada to redress this gap by ensuring newcomers are made aware of their role and responsibilities as treaty peoples by using vehicles, such as:

  • a mandatory component of the LINC/CLIC curriculum;
  • comprehensive treaty information in the newcomers guide by CIC, “Welcome to Canada: What you should know”;
  • comprehensive treaty information in the citizenship study guide by CIC, “Discover Canada: The rights and responsibilities of citizenship”;
  • amending the Canadian citizenship oath to include commitment to uphold treaties with First Peoples.

8. Protection of Canadian Citizens Overseas

May 2009
Whereas:
  1. The protection of Canadian citizens overseas, including Mr. Abousfian Abdelrazik who is stuck in Sudan, is an essential component of citizenship rights;
  2. The denial of a Canadian passport to Mr. Abdelrazik may set a negative precedent of two-tier citizenship and leave citizens with a refugee background in orbit;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge the Canadian government to protect Canadian citizens overseas against torture and cruel and unusual treatment and provide them with the right to return with no discrimination whatsoever.

25. Protection of Canadian citizens overseas

Nov 2003
Whereas:
  1. There is disturbing news of attacks against the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens overseas;
  2. Canadian citizens overseas have experienced severe torture (the cases of Mr Arar and Mr Sampson) and even death under torture (the case of Ms Zahra Kazemi);
  3. The US authorities have returned a naturalized Canadian citizen to his country of origin where he was interrogated and tortured;
  4. There are shocking reports about inadequate support from the Canadian government to Canadians detained overseas and even, in the case of Arar, indications of collaboration between the RCMP and CSIS on the one hand and the US and Syrian authorities on the other;
  5. Visible minorities and Canadian citizens with refugee backgrounds are the main victims of such abhorrent practices;
  6. Survivors have demanded a full public inquiry into their tragic experiences;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Ask the Government of Canada to accept requests from survivors or the families of victims for a full independent public inquiry into their cases and the conditions surrounding their arrest, removal to torture and the role of the Canadian officials.
  2. Urge the US government to make a similar public inquiry into the cases of Canadian citizens returned to torture.
  3. Request that the Canadian public inquiry have the utmost transparency with the aim of shedding light on the role of Canadian officials in protecting Canadian citizens and verifying the methods of torture used against our fellow-citizens overseas and on the role of other governments in subjecting Canadians to torture or other cruel and unusual treatment.
  4. Promote Canada's working towards the non-derogable right of every human person not to be sent to torture.
  5. Urge that, even in extreme cases of security suspicion, Canadian citizens overseas be returned to Canada for further investigation and possible prosecution rather than sent to torture.
  6. Appeal to the Canadian government to play an effective role in rehabilitation, redress and compensation in the cases of Canadian citizens who have been tortured overseas.
  7. Petition the Government of Canada to take all necessary steps to maintain Canadian global leadership in the exposure, prevention and eradication of torture and the need for its absolute prohibition.
  8. Ask the Government of Canada to take immediate diplomatic, economic and political action against governments that have tortured and will torture Canadian citizens or send them to torture.
  9. Solicit the Government of Canada to use regional and intergovernmental agencies, where possible, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Committee on Human Rights to object to the treatment of Canadian citizens overseas.
  10. Encourage the Canadian Government to take immediate action to intervene in the cases of all Canadians who are languishing in overseas jails and are subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
Working Group:

1. Civic participation

Nov 1998
Whereas:
  1. Civic participation, including taking out citizenship, being aware of political issues and voting, is key to full participation in Canadian society;
  2. Political representation seems to be lagging behind demographic change;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge its members to:

  1. Actively encourage more civic participation by immigrants and refugees;
  2. Explore the development of programming to facilitate this goal.