The CBA urges the government to amend Bill C-24 to ensure fairer and more efficient legislation

  • April 30, 2014

Ottawa — The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) says that changes are needed to Bill C-24, Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, and offers 20 recommendations that would improve key areas of the legislation.

The CBA welcomes the clarification of residency requirements and provision of citizenship retroactively to more “lost Canadians,” but raises concerns about other aspects of the Bill, including substantial increases to the government’s powers to revoke citizenship and requirements for applicants to demonstrate an intention to reside in Canada.

“The changes we are proposing would lead to a system that is fairer, easier to administer and one that more efficiently uses public resources,” says Barbara Jackman, member of the CBA’s National Immigration Law Section. “The CBA’s recommendations would provide the necessary safeguards to maintain the integrity of the Canadian citizenship process.”

The CBA’s 30-page submission urges the government to be more flexible in its requirement for physical residency in Canada.  It notes that the requirements may act as a deterrent to some of our best and brightest immigrants representing Canadian businesses abroad, immigrants who may, in fact, be some of Canadian businesses’ best representatives due to their skills and connections to their countries of origin.

The submission notes that requiring applicants to indicate that they intend to live in Canada if granted citizenship may be unconstitutional, as it would distinguish between naturalized and other Canadian citizens, and would violate mobility rights under the Charter. 

“Naturalized citizens could find themselves in a situation where, despite intending to reside in Canada at the time of application, find they need to go abroad temporarily for employment or personal reasons, which under this Bill could potentially put them in jeopardy,” says Chris Veeman, also of the CBA’s National Immigration Law Section.

The CBA opposes the expansion of the grounds to revoke citizenship and, for the first time, subjecting natural born Canadians who may be entitled to claim citizenship from another country to having their Canadian citizenship removed. 

The submission notes that the proposed revocation powers create a new distinction between Canadian citizens, i.e. those who are subject to exile and banishment and those who are not, undermines the tradition of permitting dual citizenship, and results in differential treatment based on national or ethnic origin.

Barbara Jackman and Chris Veeman will appear before the Commons Citizenship and Immigration Standing Committee on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at 3:30 pm, in Room C-110, 1 Wellington Street.  

The CBA submission is available online (PDF).

The CBA is dedicated to supporting the rule of law, improvements in the law, and the administration of justice. Some 37,500 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.