The Senate approved the Liberal government’s major citizenship bill Wednesday, after a nearly year-long legislative process resulting in changes affecting citizenship revocation, children’s rights and language requirements.
The Senate voted to pass Bill C-6 Wednesday, with 45 senators voting in support of the legislation, 29 against, and no abstentions. The wide-ranging bill would repeal many parts of the former Conservative government’s citizenship legislation, including a provision that revoked citizenship from dual Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.
An attempt by Conservative Senator Daniel Lang essentially proposing the government maintain that power was defeated Tuesday during debate in the Red Chamber.
If passed, the proposed legislation would automatically reinstate citizenship for dual nationals like Zakaria Amara, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 who planned to bomb downtown Toronto and had his citizenship revoked last fall under the Conservatives’ Bill C-24. The Liberals have continued to stand by the proposal amidst criticism from the Conservatives, with cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly saying that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
The bill is now headed to the House of Commons, where the Senate’s amendments will be considered. Then it must receive Royal assent, effectively a rubber stamp.
While the citizenship revocation issue is receiving most of the headlines, there are other practical changes in the bill that are important for would-be immigrants. They include:
- Permanent residents will only have to spend three out of five years in Canada to apply for citizenship. Currently, the number is four out of six years.
- People who have resided in Canada on a study or work permit will be able to include that time for meeting the physical presence requirement.
- Minors will be allowed to apply for citizenship without having their parents assist them. Currently, minors cannot achieve citizenship if the parents’ application has been rejected.
- Raising the age for English/French language testing from 14 to 18.
With these changes, the road to citizenship will be much quicker in the future, with less barriers standing in the way. Stay tuned for developments.