For the full text of Senator Omidvar’s speech, please click here.
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Senator Ratna Omidvar (Independent), a longtime advocate for the rights and inclusion of immigrants and refugees, today moved Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, to second reading in the Senate of Canada.
Senator Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. She came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement have been the foundation of her work.
“I have possessed three passports in my life, but I count myself as a citizen of only one country. It is my Canadian passport that signals to me: I belong here. Because it is here that I have walked through the avenues of contribution which have resulted in the intangible but essential. A sense of belonging,” Senator Omidvar said. “These pathways of contribution are open to us all, regardless of whether we were fortunate enough to have been born on Canadian soil, or fortunate enough to have been naturalized as Canadians.”
Bill C-6 arrives in the Senate as one of the first major pieces of government legislation of the fall session. It largely amends parts of the Citizenship Act changed by the earlier Bill C-24. It reflects collaboration in the House of Commons, as it was passed with two substantive amendments brought forward by the opposition. It addresses at least two priorities in the Immigration Minister’s mandate letter.
Underlying the bill are the principles of equality, facilitation of citizenship, and program integrity. Significant changes proposed by the bill include:
- Repealing the authority to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens on national interest grounds;
- Repealing the requirement for citizen applicants to declare an intent to reside in Canada;
- Reinstating previous, reduced residency requirements to obtain citizenship;
- Reinstating residency credit for temporary residents; and
- Reinstating previous age requirements to meet language and knowledge criteria to obtain citizenship.
Bill C-6 is also notable for what it leaves in place. Aspects introduced by earlier Bill C-24 that improve processing efficiency and program integrity are unchanged, such as clarifying a residency requirement of physical presence for citizenship applicants and increasing fines and penalties for fraud.
“This is a good bill, but it is not a perfect bill,” Senator Omidvar said. “Improvements can be made. I expect my colleagues in the Senate will bring into focus issues of critical importance during debate. I look forward to these deliberations and to proposals which seek to reform the Citizenship Act in the spirit of the principles underlying Bill C-6.”
For further information, please contact:
Office of Senator Ratna Omidvar
About Senator Omidvar:
In April 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Senator Omidvar to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. She is the founding Executive Director and currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. She is co-author of Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015). Senator Omidvar was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011.