Canadian Citizenship and Canadian Values
Canadian citizenship reflects our institutions, our laws and our values.
Canada has the highest naturalization rate of any country in the world precisely because of our ability successfully to integrate newcomers – to make them feel welcome and to open the door to opportunity. Since most immigrants do go on to earn their citizenship, Canadians have a shared experience of and commitment to the privileges and responsibilities that citizenship bestows.
Permanent residents convicted of crimes are ineligible for citizenship. People with criminal records cannot immigrate. Our screening procedures for criminality or links to terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, marriage fraud or human trafficking are among the most sophisticated and successful in the world.
The Canadian immigration system, which prepares so many newcomers to become outstanding citizens, should be a source of pride for all Canadians. But Canadian citizenship and Canadian citizens require continuous protection.
As a result of the new government’s efforts to undo popular Conservative reforms over the past eighteen months, Canada’s residency and language requirements for citizenship are the weakest of any major advanced economy. With Canada’s diversity, prosperity and freedoms now more cherished than ever, we have a responsibility to prepare new citizens with language skills and knowledge of Canada, and to convey the sense of belonging new citizens expect and need to succeed.
As Prime Minister I would:
(i) invite Canadian writers and artists to draft a new preamble to the Citizenship Act to reflect the full meaning of Canadian citizenship in this century;
(ii) invite First Nations, Inuit and Métis representatives to help re-draft the Citizenship Guide to ensure it fully reflects Canada’s origins, history, land and waters;
(iii) mandate the Institute of Canadian Citizenship to provide framework courses for citizenship exam preparation across Canada, with input from indigenous, cultural, military, trade, business and volunteer organizations;
(iv) return the residency requirement to four years and apply the language requirement to those aged 15 to 64;
(v) make all Canadian citizens, regardless of residency status, eligible to vote;
(vi) require that the oath – a criterion of citizenship – be taken in public, with face uncovered, but allow citizenship judges to make exceptions to the latter requirement at their discretion; and
(vii) study options for expanding current revocation procedures for fraud and misrepresentation to include terrorism, espionage or treason.