Bill C-6: A law that removes barriers to Canadian citizenship
The bill, which reflects major government campaign promises, facilitates citizenship and protects Charter rights.
During the 2015 federal election campaign, then-Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau promised to repeal elements of Bill C-24 — 2014 legislation that gave the Government the power to revoke Canadian citizenship if a dual citizen is convicted of certain offences. The bill also put up additional barriers to citizenship. The commitment echoes the Prime Minister’s expression of the principle that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
The Senate’s Role
Introduced in 2016, Bill C-6 was sponsored by independent Senator Ratna Omidvar, an internationally recognized voice on immigration, diversity and inclusion, and the founding executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. Ultimately, the Senate passed and significantly improved C-6 by making two key amendments to the legislation. Working closely with Senator Omidvar, independent Senator Elaine McCoy introduced an amendment to restore an individual’s right to due process if facing potential citizenship revocation on the grounds of fraud or false representation. As well, Conservative Senator Victor Oh championed an amendment granting minors the ability to independently apply for citizenship, paving the way for children who have lost their parents to conflict and adversity to come to Canada to reside with extended family members. Previously, minors could only request a waiver for a grant of citizenship on compassionate grounds from the Minister. Where they once required a waiver, minors would now have a right.
Bill C-6 received Royal Assent in June 2017 and became the law of the land. Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, noted the impact of the Senate’s amendments in bringing important issues to light that were not originally addressed in the proposed legislation. “Our Government feels that the collaborative work of the Senators has made Bill C-6 stronger,” he said. Senator Omidvar called the amendments “outstanding examples of the Red Chamber exercising its ability to improve legislation and uphold the Charter, in particular on behalf of minorities.”