Canadian Citizenship Applications: It's About "Values"

It appears that the federal government will be revising the regulations pertaining to Canadian citizenship applications to include greater emphasis on the country’s “values,” federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday.Kenney said his department is conducting a complete review of the citizenship program to improve its content, “with a focus on Canadian values.”

The emphasis that the government wants to place when it comes to Canadian citizenship applications will be on “integration” . This means that they want to ensure that Canadian citizenship applicants have an understanding and appreciation for Canada’s values and history. In practical terms, expect more questions on the Citizenship exam to include history, equality and the rule of law.

Minister Kenny, in his remarks, said that Canadian citizenship test is “outdated” and has not been revised in a decade.We anticipate that the changes to the Canadian citizenship program will be finalized this summer.

I applaud the Minster’s initiative here. Canadian citizenship should be about values and knowledge of Canada. However, formulating a written test to determine if an applicant for Canadian citizenship has such values may be challenging and constitutionally questionable.  After all, in our free society, we should all have the right to hold our own views and values which may or may not coincide with the majority of Canadians. And if some of us are in the minority, does it make us less Canadian? I don’t think so. We will have to see how all this plays out in the summer for Canadian Citizenship Applications.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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