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Liberals Make It Easier to Become a Canadian Citizen and Vote for them

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Shorter residency requirement for would-be Canadians set to take effect

The Canadian flag is seen in this undated file photograph.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, October 4, 2017 11:38AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 4, 2017 3:05PM EDT

BRAMPTON, Ont. -- Important changes to Canadian citizenship rules, including how long a newcomer has to be in the country to be eligible, will take effect next week, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced Wednesday.

Speaking in the highly diverse community of Brampton, Ont., just northwest of Toronto, Hussen said the changes undo barriers the former Conservative government put in place.

"Something happened in the last number of years whereby the previous government had deliberately put obstacles, real barriers, to citizenship for permanent residents," Hussen said. "Those barriers were unnecessary. They prolonged people's steps to join the Canadian family, they made it really hard."

Under the changes that take effect Oct. 11, which Hussen called long-awaited, would-be citizens will have to have been in Canada for three of the last five years before they apply.

"That is really important because it will mean that many permanent residents will be able to apply for citizenship earlier and it will mean their path to citizenship will be eased," Hussen said.

The government under former prime minister Stephen Harper had tightened the eligibility rules to require permanent residents to have been physically present in Canada for four years out of the last six immediately before applying for citizenship

Another rule, requiring applicants to be in Canada for 183 days each year, has been causing "real hardship" and is being scrapped under implementation of Bill C-6. Permanent residents will now be allowed to go abroad to study, work or for family reasons without losing access to citizenship eligibility.

Another key change also taking effect will be how time spent in Canada before foreigners become permanent residents is counted. Currently, the time people are in the country -- studying, working, visiting, or as refugees -- does not count as being present for citizenship-eligibility purposes, even if they have been here for years.

Hussen called that "unfortunate." The new rules, he said, will allow such individuals to count half the time they have spent in Canada to a maximum of one year, meaning that once they become permanent residents, they would only need to be in the country for an additional two years to apply for citizenship.

Also as of Oct. 11, only newcomers aged of 18 to 54 will have to take and pass a citizenship knowledge and language test. Previously, the age range was 14 to 64, a problem Hussen said was particularly acute for those under 18 given their need to study for school exams.

The various changes are part of the same bill that previously scrapped the federal government's ability to strip citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism -- another controversial change implemented under Harper.

The Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said it wants to simplify the process with the ongoing overhaul of the Citizenship Act. The government is also rewriting the citizenship oath to incorporate a reference to treaties with Indigenous Peoples.

Hussen, himself a Somali immigrant who came to Canada in 1993 as a 16-year-old, spoke of the importance of gaining citizenship to newcomers, the final step toward their integration into the "Canadian family." He recalled "how moving" it was when he took his own oath 15 years ago.

"A lot of permanent residents have been eagerly awaiting these changes," Hussen said.

At the same time, he said, immigrants are a crucial part of the country's economy and social fabric, and the changes go a distance toward recognizing those facts.

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"They prolonged people's steps to join the Canadian family, they made it really hard."

This type of thinking infuriates me....steps were taken to tighten up the,process due to abuses...imagine having to be present in the country you want citizenship in or actually having to understand questions on a citizenship exam.

The libs could care less who they let in  or what it means to have citizenship.

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As with a Lot of things our Liberal Gov. is doing, there appears to be a lack of thought/checking before acting.

One problem with the new citizenship oath: Citizens can’t really violate an Indigenous treaty

Much like a peace treaty between nation states, it's legally impossible for Canadian citizens to personally violate an Indigenous treaty

chretien_ceremony_20170925.jpgLuiz capitulino,11, of Brazil joins others in the oath as they become official Canadians during a citizenship ceremony at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

Tristin Hopper
Tristin Hopper


October 6, 2017
10:26 AM EDT


In a measure likely set to debut next year, the Canadian citizenship oath will soon include its first-ever reference to Indigenous people by including a pledge to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples.”

The change was recommended by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and had wide support among government-convened focus groups. There’s just one problem; you can’t really “faithfully observe” a treaty.

Canada’s various treaties are compacts between the Crown and specific Indigenous groups. Just as with a peace treaty between nation states, there’s no real room for individual citizens to uphold or invalidate them.

“Off-hand, I cannot think of how an individual non-Indigenous Canadian could ‘fail to observe’ a treaty unless they were acting as a representative of the federal or provincial government,” said Michael Coyle, a Western University legal expert on Indigenous land claims and treaty rights.

qmi_es20140925pm018.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allEdmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Treaty Six Chiefs holds up a Treaty Six flag during the second annual Treaty Six Day proclaimation at city hall Edmonton, Alberta on September 25, 2014. Perry Mah/Edmonton Sun

This is in sharp contrast to other Canadian laws such as the Criminal Code or the Copyright Act, which do require new Canadians to faithfully observe them.

For instance, Treaty 6, signed in 1876, covers a wide belt of prairie that now includes Saskatoon and Edmonton. In exchange for ceding those lands to Her Majesty “forever,” Cree and other signatories were pledged government support including ammunition, farming equipment, medicine and aid in the case of “pestilence” or “famine.”

A non-Indigenous citizen could illegally squat on reserve lands guaranteed by Treaty Six, but that’s not a treaty violation; it’s trespassing, a Criminal Code offence. Treaty Six would only begin to be violated if the Crown failed to dispatch the RCMP to remove the trespasser.

The same is true of an initial Treaty Six pledge to protect signatories from the “evil influence of the use of intoxicating liquors” — a measure that was phased out in the 1950s.

If an early 1900s trader sold whiskey on a reserve, it would not have been a treaty violation; it would have been a violation of the Indian Act, which was passed in part to enforce treaty measures.

Even modern treaties do not mention the responsibilities of individual citizens. The Nisga’a Final Agreement, signed in 1998, only cites the rights and responsibilities of the signatories; the Nisga’a Nation and the governments of British Columbia and Canada.

ldc_brief_notea_fig1_1398255599781_eng.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allMap showing the modern treaties and self-government agreements signed in Canada since 1975. Government of Canada

“I suppose you could indirectly argue, since treaties are part of the law of Canada and indeed of the constitution since 1982, that individual Canadians should be concerned that the government live up to them,” said University of Calgary political scientist Thomas Flanagan, writing in an email to the National Post.

Even there, an elected Canadian government would not be able to openly flout its treaty obligations without butting up against the courts. As with any legal agreement, First Nations can sue the Crown for breaching contract.

There have been Canadian laws that called on individual Canadians to recognize Indigenous rights, but these have not been treaties.

The most famous is likely the 1763 Royal Proclamation, which King George III enacted in his North American colonies in order to preserve inland native territory by restricting colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Instead, the proclamation ended up being one of the cited causes of the American War of Independence. In the Declaration of Independence, colonists accused King George III of pandering to “merciless Indian savages.”

treatydays1.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allSASKATOON,SK;13JUN07Treaty Days were held in Meewasin Park Wednesday and Thursday. As part of Treaty 6 signed in 1876, members of certain bands receive five dollars. Back in 1876, they could also get twine, barbed wire,oats for their horses and ammunition for their hunting guns. Kevin Lysake with Indian Affairs and RCMP officer Cst. Ron McDonald were on hand for the event. SP Photo by Richard Marjan

The text for Canada’s new citizenship oath is taken verbatim from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Commission also called on Canada to revise its citizenship guide to include “information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.”

An internal report from Citizenship and Immigration Canada also noted that citizenship ceremonies may soon open by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous territories on which participants are standing; a practice that is already standard at public gatherings in parts of Western Canada and the North.

The idea with the new oath is to remind incoming Canadians that their new home is most likely situated on land that their government obtained thanks to a standing agreement with an Indigenous band.

“All who live on treaty lands are ‘treaty people’, in the sense that they benefit from the past and continuing treaty relationship with the Indigenous peoples who entered those treaties to share the land,” said Coyle.

cover-jun22.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allOgichidaa Francis Kavanaugh of Grand Council Treaty 3 (right) reads out the declaration that he signed along with Mayor of Kenora Dave Canfield (centre) prior to the raising of the Treaty 3 flag on Wednesday, June 21 on National Aboriginal Day. Kathleen Charlebois/Postmedia Network

But the oath also leaves out thousands of Canadian Indigenous people whose home nations never inked a treaty with the Crown.

Vast swaths of British Columbia, for instance, lie on untreatied land. In 2014, the City of Vancouver acknowledged as much with a resolution noting that they are on lands that “were never ceded through treaty, war or surrender.”

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And let us not forget those who are responsible for there being  Metis and others  , who have no special rights :D.  

  • Today there are 350,000-400,000 Métis in Canada.
  • Projections suggest that the Aboriginal population could increase to approximately 1.4 million by 2017 from 1.1 million in 2006.
  • And over 3million desendants from the Home Children who have no rights. Go Figure.
  • In My Opinion, all 3 groups should enjoy equal rights and obligations as citizens of Canada.  Past is past, it is time to live in the "NOW".
  • If we are to continue to dwell on the past, then perhaps it is time to consider reparations for all who have suffered. A good example is the Scots who were driven off their lands, many of whom resettled in Canada. Or perhaps the Japanese Canadians who were driven from their homes in BC and had their boats and dwellings taken with little recourse. Just imagine the trauma their descendants suffer. 

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