OLIVER: Changes aim to make citizenship process fair

Eglinton-Lawrence is home to more than 40,000 immigrants, and continues to grow every year as more new Canadians join our community.

Those who travelled from distant lands to seek a place in our country recognize our generosity and warmth, the many essential freedoms we uphold and high standard of living we offer. They treasure their citizenship, and it is with them — and all Canadians — in mind that the federal government is acting to protect our immigration system by promoting Canadian interests.

The changes we have introduced will be important to many who live in Eglinton-Lawrence.

Canadian citizenship is not a passport of convenience.

It comes with rights, responsibilities and a commitment to uphold Canadian values. We seek to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship, while protecting taxpayers and improving the system over-all.

It is important that citizenship applicants maintain strong ties to Canada, so they will need to have a physical presence in Canada for at least three years, totaling 1,095 days preceding the submission of the application.

Additionally, to guarantee that new Canadians are fully prepared to participate in Canadian society, language requirements in French or English and a successful knowledge test will be necessary for applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.

As the integrity of our immigration system is crucial, stronger penalties for citizenship fraud and misrepresentation will be introduced.

Furthermore, anyone convicted of serious crimes abroad will be barred from citizenship and we will provide the power to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual-nationals convicted of terrorism, treason or spying offences.

Residents of Eglinton-Lawrence who spent years working towards earning their citizenship in an honest manner understand the need for these measures.

Since Canadian citizenship is becoming ever more popular, a greater need for efficiency has risen and that is why we are streamlining the application process.

Reducing it from three steps to one is projected to reduce the processing time to less than a year by 2015-16.

Modest increases to citizenship fees will relieve the burden on Canadian taxpayers by reflecting the actual processing cost.

My constituents can be confident in our approach to protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have it, while creating a more efficient system for those who desire it.

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Posted: Apr 7 2014 1:02 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto