Bill C-6 – Act to amend the Citizenship Act
The Executive Director for the Canadian Council of Refugees addressed the house by presenting the organization’s concerns with respect to Bill C-6. As a reminder, Bill C-6 (sponsored by John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship), seeks to (i) remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian Citizenship as it relates to national security; (ii) remove the requirement that an applicant intend to reside in Canada if granted citizenship; (iii) reduce the number of days during which a person must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship; and (iv) limit the requirement of demonstrating knowledge of Canada and one of its languages to applicants between the ages of 18-54. Notably, Bill C-6 seeks to repeal some if not all of the changes that were implemented by Bill C-24 (introduced by the Conservative party). The Canadian Council of Refugees recommended that the youth under 18 who have no parent or guardian be allowed to apply for citizenship and that long wait times be prevented by requiring the government to process applications within a reasonable time frame.
Federal Budget 2016
Last week, the 2016 budget was tabled in the House by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, declaring 2016’s budget would “restore hope for the middle class and revitalize the economy”. Please click here for The Canadian-Muslim Vote's summary of the budget.
Office of Religious Freedom in Flux
A majority of last week’s debate focused on the motion tabled by the Conservatives to renew the current mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom. The government staunchly opposed the renewal of the Office based on the principle that all human rights are interdependent. The NDP also echoed the government’s opposition to the Conservative motion, highlighting a study which showed that Christian minorities garnered twice as much attention from the office as compared to Muslim and Jewish minorities, calling into question the focus of the work of the Office.
The government made it very clear last week that freedom of religion and belief should be situated within the larger framework of human rights and that the Office as it is currently set up “should be broadened and not only focus on protecting minority rights based on religion but also on ensuring the development of human rights and pluralism”, as stated by Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan.
Highlights from the 2016 Federal Budget:
On March 22, 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the current government’s first Federal Budget. The Budget outlines planned government spending, expected government revenue, and forecast economic conditions for the upcoming year. The budget is the financial plan on delivering the commitments made by the current government during the election campaign, Speech from the Throne and mandate letters to the Ministers. The priorities of the Budget have been laid out into five key themes:
- Strengthening the Middle Class: Investing in the middle class, skills training and infrastructure.
- An Innovative and Clean Economy: Smart, targeted investments in science, research, innovation and the environment.
- An Inclusive and Fair Canada: A better more inclusive Canada where all Canadians have a chance to succeed.
- Canada and the World: International Leadership in support of peace, security and economic growth.
- Open and Transparent Government.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the federal budget earlier this week.
The summary below highlights key investments and commitments made by the Federal government over the next year.
March 7-11, 2016
“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”
Debate in the House picked up mid last week with the Minister of Immigration John McCallum’s introduction of Bill C-6. This is an act to amend Bill C-24, Strengthening the Canadian Citizenship Act, a Conservative bill passed by the previous government which among other things, allowed the previous Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to revoke an individual’s citizenship if that person was convicted of a terrorist crime as well as other crimes. Minister McCallum asserted quite strongly in the House that all Canadians are equal and there cannot be two classes of Canadians, which is why the Liberal government found this law unacceptable and is amending it through Bill C-6.