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Face time required to be a Canadian Citizen

Kip Powick

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OTTAWA - If you want to become a Canadian, you'll have to show your face.

Under sweeping regulations that take effect Monday, Muslim women will have to remove their niqabs or any other face-coverings such as burkas before reciting the oath of citizenship to become Canadian, QMI Agency has learned.

Those participating in citizenship ceremonies - the final step in the process to officially become a Canadian - will be given two warnings to unveil themselves.

The first would be upon arrival, when a department official will explain the requirement. If the person refuses, a citizenship judge will ask the individual to show her face before reading the oath.

If the person refuses the second request, the judge will ask them to leave, putting their citizenship in jeopardy. But they will be given other opportunities at future citizenship ceremonies if they change their mind.

If they don't, they will remain permanent residents and give up their right to vote, run for office and hold certain jobs. Permanent residents can be deported for serious crimes.

The new rule requires the citizenship judge to see the person's face as the oath is being spoken. Once the oath is completed and the national anthem sung, the individual can cover her face and begin a new life in Canada as a citizen.

The new rule is part of a wider package of reforms Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has implemented throughout the department.

Last week he announced a crackdown on immigration fraudsters.

On the citizenship front, Kenney has toughened rules since the Conservatives took office, including introducing language tests to ensure would-be Canadians are proficient in one of the two official languages.

Immigrants are also required to know more about Canada and its history than previously as part of the citizenship process.

The latest change is sure to stir a backlash in some quarters as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government puts its stamp on citizenship and immigration.

Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on a case that pits the right of religious freedom against the rights of the accused to a fair trial.

An unidentified Muslim woman wants to wear a niqab in court when she testifies against two relatives she accuses of sexually assaulting her when she was a child. The accused argue they should be able to see their accuser's face.

France enacted legislation this year that bans niqabs from being worn in public places and other face-covering veils, including masks, balaclavas and helmets. Violators face fines.

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It is a bold move by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to use his independent authority to demand all new citizens swear an oath of allegiance to this country with their faces in full view.

No burkas. No niqabs. No masks of any kind.

And no exceptions.

Not only is it a bold move by Kenney, it is long overdue, although it will undoubtedly be challenged in the courts as a make-work project by pious human-rights activists as an example of the Harper government's supposed intolerance and heavy-handedness.

If so, bring it on.

We, unlike the naysayers, would argue that our citizenship oath actually means something.

It's not just symbolism.

It means that you're pledging your loyalty to Canada and the Queen and, just as importantly, it means that you're accepting Canadian values.

If you don't want to accept the values that are cherished by Canadians, and that Canadians fought for and died to protect, then pack up and return to the hellhole from which you wanted to escape.

Travel agents are standing by.

At a practical level, if we believe the oath is actually important, Kenney's move will ensure the person swearing their oath is actually the person whose signature is on this precious document, one that entitles them to citizenship in arguably the best country in the world.

This is no small matter.

Right now, there is a landmark fight going on in the Supreme Court of Canada over whether a complainant in a sexual assault case can testify against the accused from behind the mask of an Islamic niqab.

While Kenney's initiative will have nothing to do with the outcome of that case, and thus far it doesn't look good for the complainant, it will hopefully change the face of the future cases.

It is our hope, as well, that Kenney's move will give provinces, as well as the clowns at Elections Canada who have no problem with voters hiding their faces, the courage to deal directly with the changing face of multiculturalism.

If you want a driver's licence, if you want social benefits, if you want your province's version of medicare, then take off the mask and take up traditional Canadian values.

Otherwise go home.

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  • 3 years later...

And then there were some who wanted to change the Oath to suit their POV and sued to have the ability to do so. The courts have ruled. Guess they would not come out and say, if you don't like our rules then bug off and go to another country. :icon_butt:

Supreme Court won’t hear citizenship oath to Queen challenge


The Globe and Mail


Thursday, Feb. 26 2015, 11:21 AM EST

Last updated

Thursday, Feb. 26 2015, 8:32 PM EST

A group of immigrants who oppose the monarchy and have refused to become Canadian citizens because it involves swearing allegiance to the Queen will not have a chance to make their case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The top court declined on Thursday to hear a constitutional challenge from three permanent residents in the Toronto area who have refused to swear the citizenship oath, meaning they cannot become Canadians and vote. As is customary, the court did not offer reasons for its decision.

Immigrants seeking citizenship are required to swear to “be faithful and bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her Heirs and Successors,” an oath the three people say violates their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and religion.

They were trying to challenge an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling issued last August that the group was wrong to take the oath literally. That decision, citing previous Canadian court rulings, held that new citizens are not swearing allegiance to the Queen herself and that “the reference to the Queen is symbolic of our form of government and the unwritten constitutional principle of democracy.”

That ruling, written by Justice Karen Weiler for the three-judge appeal panel, also held that a citizenship ceremony does not violate the appellants’ freedom of expression because “they have the opportunity to publicly disavow what they consider to be the message conveyed by the oath” after they take it.

That’s the odd course of action being considered by at least one of the appellants, University of Toronto math professor Dror Bar-Natan, a Princeton-educated Israeli and U.S. citizen who has lived in Canada since 2002.

“I think it is silly,” he said of the notion of taking a vow and then publicly disavowing it. “I misunderstood the law in Canada. I thought vows had meaning.”

While his wife and two university-aged sons have taken the oath, he has refused despite being eligible for citizenship. He acknowledges that the role of the monarchy is only a “minor thing” in Canada, but says swearing allegiance to a hereditary head of state still offends him.

“It used to be slaves were slaves, peasants were peasants, royalty were royalty,” Prof. Bar-Natan said. “Much of it got erased, but a little bit remains, and I find this little bit extremely disturbing.”

The other permanent residents behind the case include Irish-born retired journalist Michael McAteer, who has lived in Canada since 1964, and Simone Topey, a Rastafarian who claims swearing the oath to the Queen would violate her freedom of religion.

Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer for the group, argues it is unfair that native-born Canadians – significant percentages of whom oppose the monarchy, according to polls – are not required to betray their views and swear allegiance to the Queen.

His clients’ only options are swearing oaths they intend to disavow, or trying to persuade the federal government to change the law. While the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien contemplated rewriting the oath in the 1990s, a change now is unlikely given the monarchist bent of the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, who have restored the word “royal” to parts of the armed forces and ordered portraits of the Queen displayed in embassies.

Government lawyers on the oath case last year argued those who oppose Canada’s “foundational constitutional structure” should not be entitled to become citizens and vote. A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, calling the oath a “pledge of mutual responsibility.”

The Harper government is involved in another legal battle over the rules of citizenship ceremonies, vowing to challenge a recent Federal Court ruling that overturned a ban on wearing the face-covering niqab by Muslim women while taking the citizenship oath.


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I'll bet the prevailing position at the SCC will favour a woman's Right to wear a beekeeper suit as she see's fit. If the ruling was to come down in favour of the Government position, considering the current state of geo-political affairs, I doubt it would be long before all sorts of other ridiculous claims based on religious freedom would begin to fall.

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