A promised overhaul of Canada’s citizenship information stays a piece in progress with simply months left within the Liberal authorities’s mandate.
That leaves newcomers to the nation with the present information — which is riddled with historic gaps and outdated data — as their major doc for getting ready for the citizenship take a look at.
The authorities is revamping the 68-page Uncover Canada doc, final up to date in 2012, to higher replicate variety and to incorporate extra “meaningful content” in regards to the historical past and rights of Indigenous individuals and the residential faculty expertise.
With simply 5 months to go earlier than the federal election, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen mentioned a launch date nonetheless has not been set and supplied no particular rationalization for the delay.
“We are committed to getting the citizenship guide right, and that includes consulting with as many stakeholders [as possible] on the proposed changes. This work is ongoing,” mentioned Mathieu Genest. “We are listening to experts, stakeholders and community representatives, because what we want to do is take the politics out of the guide.”
Janet Dench, govt director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, mentioned it is “incomprehensible” that the information is taking this lengthy to roll out.
“Our major concern is that newcomers be presented with a fair and balanced picture of Canada that acknowledges the problems in Canadian and current reality, and how that affects Indigenous people and racialized people. When we fail to provide an accurate picture of our country, it’s a disservice to the country as a whole as well as to the newcomers,” she mentioned.
The Reality and Reconciliation Fee (TRC) had really helpful revising data supplies for newcomers and the citizenship take a look at to replicate “a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the treaties and the history of residential schools.”
Historic gaps, outdated data
Till the brand new information is launched, newcomers must use the present information to check for the citizenship take a look at. It incorporates restricted data on the legacy of residential faculties, outdated data on issues like inhabitants numbers and lyrics to the nationwide anthem which have since been modified by Parliament to make them extra gender-neutral.
Calling the delay “astounding,” NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan mentioned it is unacceptable that there is nonetheless incorrect, outdated data within the information.
“You want our newcomers to know the wording to our national anthem. It’s embarrassing to have in our citizenship guide this kind of misinformation,” she mentioned.
Kwan mentioned she is puzzled by the delay, provided that MPs had been consulted on it two years in the past and an early draft was leaked final 12 months to The Canadian Press.
“I certainly think that with the citizenship guide, we can take the opportunity to ensure that new Canadians, newcomers understand our history, the good, bad and the ugly, and … fully appreciate the history of Canada, most certainly around the issue of Indigenous people,” she mentioned. “To give full recognition to that, I think, is very important.”
Plan was to launch information in 2017
A draft copy of the revised information obtained by The Canadian Press confirmed a reference to the unlawful follow of feminine genital mutilation had been dropped. CP additionally reported that the Liberals hoped to have the brand new information in place for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
Final fall, CBC Information reported that the up to date citizenship information would, in truth, embody a warning to newcomers about feminine genital mutilation.
The difficulty had grow to be politically charged, with Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel repeatedly urgent Hussen on the subject. She additionally sponsored an e-petition within the Home of Commons on the matter.
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman mentioned the federal government probably thought the updating train can be simpler than it turned out to be. He mentioned the citizenship information displays the priorities and values of the federal government that writes it, and helps to outline how individuals see the nation.
Political tilt on focus
The earlier Conservative authorities tilted the information’s wording towards army historical past and rights and the tasks of citizenship, whereas the Liberal authorities seems to be inclined to elucidate Indigenous reconciliation and multiculturalism, Suleman mentioned.
“Given that we have an election coming up, there’s probably a calculus about whether it’s worth releasing a new guide, which inevitably will make some people happy and other people unhappy,” he mentioned.
Dory Jade, chief govt officer of the Canadian Affiliation of Skilled Immigration Consultants, mentioned he believes it is higher to take the time to get it proper as a substitute of dashing it for political causes.
“I personally believe the bureaucratic machine requires more time to do such a job and the government did not foresee that in their promise,” he mentioned, noting that the Conservative authorities additionally took a protracted time to complete its replace.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada mentioned the revamp is targeted on a number of key areas:
- Responding to the Reality and Reconciliation Fee’s name for language that higher displays the views and historical past of Indigenous peoples of Canada.
- Showcasing Canada’s cultural variety and dedication to official languages.
- Presenting the social evolution of civic rights and freedoms for LGBT, ladies and folks with disabilities.
- Utilizing language that’s extra accessible for second-language learners and structuring the doc so the newcomer can extra simply determine the details of every chapter.
The federal government has additionally pledged to replace supplies for newcomers and to amend the oath of citizenship to replicate respect for Indigenous rights. That change to the citizenship oath was additionally really helpful by the TRC and included in Hussen’s Feb. 1, 2017 mandate letter.
These initiatives are additionally nonetheless ongoing, in response to Hussen’s workplace.