THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met by videoconference this day at 4 p.m. [ET] to study Bill S-230, an Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians).

Senator Chantal Petitclerc (Chair) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: Honourable senators, I declare this meeting in session. I am Chantal Petitclerc, senator from Quebec. It is my pleasure and privilege to chair today’s meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Before we begin, I would like to share several suggestions that we feel will assist you in this meeting, which is taking place by videoconference, as you know.

[English]

To ensure that this video conference meeting is efficient, you will please need to keep your microphone muted at all times. You are responsible for turning your microphone on and off when you speak. I will ask you to use the raise hand feature on Zoom if you wish to speak or be recognized. Also, please pause for a few seconds. This will allow the audio signal to catch up to you.

If there are any technical challenges that arise, possibly with translation, please let me or the clerk know, and we will make sure we do everything we can to fix it and make it work. You also have a number that you can contact if you run into any challenges.

[Translation]

Please note that we may need to suspend during those times, as we need to ensure that all members, and the witnesses, are able to participate fully in the meeting in the official language of their choice.

[English]

Finally, I am asked to remind all participants that Zoom screens should not be copied, recorded or photographed. You may use and share all official proceedings that are posted on the SenVu website for that purpose.

[Translation]

Without further delay, I would like to introduce the members of the committee. With us, we have the deputy chairs of the committee, Senator Bovey and Senator Frum. We also have Senator R. Black, a member of the steering committee, and Senators Dasko, Kutcher, Manning, Moodie and Forest-Niesing. Senator Martin is also here as a witness. Let us now move right away to our review of Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians).

[English]

I would like to first introduce our witnesses and thank them for being here today. We have the pleasure and privilege to have with us the sponsor of the bill, the Honourable Senator Yonah Martin. Thank you for being with us today. We are looking forward to hearing you.

We also have with us, from Lost Canadians, Don Chapman, Head of the organization. Thank you very much for being here with us today.

I will first invite Senator Martin to make her opening remarks, then followed by Mr. Chapman.

Hon. Yonah Martin, Senator, Senate of Canada: Thank you, Madam Chair. Good afternoon, colleagues. The sun is just starting to peek out. I can see the light coming into my office. Perhaps that is a sign of good things to come.

It’s an honour for me to speak to you about this Senate public bill, Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act to permit certain persons who lost their Canadian citizenship to regain citizenship.

Before I briefly speak about this bill, I want to recognize the important work that you are doing in the committee. I was a member of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee for a number of years when a former champion of Lost Canadians, Senator Art Eggleton, was chair, and previously before that as deputy chair. I did work with him as well as other senators I have recognized already who had worked on this file.

This is about a group of Canadians. I say “Canadians.” They are Lost Canadians until we are able to reinstate their citizenship rightfully. As a proud, naturalized Canadian, I was born in Korea but first arrived in Vancouver in 1972. I became a citizen five years later. I understand the value, the symbolism and the importance of our citizenship. I come to you today humbly as a naturalized Canadian and someone who came across this important group of Lost Canadians and their plight. I’ve been able to work on this with Don Chapman, who is here with me today, a true champion.

This Senate bill will address a specific gap in the Citizenship Act to capture a group of Canadians, or Lost Canadians, who lost their status or became stateless because of changes to policy. In 1977, the Citizenship Act added a new provision that applied only to second-generation Canadians born abroad on or after February 15, 1977. In order to keep their citizenship, these individuals had to reaffirm their status before their twenty-eighth birthday.

This law was passed and then forgotten. The government never published a retention form. There were no instructions on how an individual would reaffirm their Canadian citizenship, and for those affected, they were never told a retention requirement even existed.

In 2009, the Citizenship Act was amended in Bill C-37. It was one of the first government bills that I had a chance to study as a member of this committee. This change saw the age 28 rule repealed entirely. Canadians caught up in the age 28 rule but who had not yet reached the age of 28 were grandfathered in. However, Bill C-37 did not include Canadians who were born abroad between 1977 and 1981, essentially those who had already turned 28 before the passage of Bill C-37 in 2009.

Today, the age 28 retention rule still remains only in effect for those second-generation Canadians born inside a 50-month window, from February 15, 1977, through April 16, 1981, so those who had already turned 28 when that age 28 rule was repealed through Bill C-37. Many of these individuals were raised in Canada from a young age. They were born abroad. Some came to Canada, like me, but at a much younger age, such as two months of age. They went to school in Canada, they raised their families in Canada, they worked and paid taxes in Canada, and yet they turned 28 without knowing that their citizenship would be stripped from them because of the change in policy from that previous bill I spoke of. Bill S-230 will allow these Canadians to continue their lives without fear, knowing that they are valued and supported, by reinstating them, as they should have been.

I would like to conclude by acknowledging the work of Don Chapman, who you will hear from next. He has probably worked with all of the senators previously named.

Senator Omidvar is the critic, and she and I have had long conversations about whether she would sponsor or whether I would sponsor. I had been working on this soon after Senator Eggleton’s retirement, so appropriately I am the sponsor, but she is the critic. I thank her for the work that she has done as well.

Don Chapman is a true champion of the Lost Canadians. He himself had been a Lost Canadian. He has tirelessly advocated for these individuals and families. The committee will hear from him today about the journey he has been on that led to Bill S-230, which only addresses one small group. I purposefully did that because I wanted to have it focused and without “controversy” in terms of why we are doing it. All of you will have a chance to hear from Don, and we can answer further questions.

I invite your support of this bill that will reinstate citizenship to a group of Lost Canadians who have always been Canadians and rightfully deserve to be given back their citizenship. Thank you, colleagues.

Don Chapman, Head, Lost Canadians: Thank you, honourable senators. I’m honoured to be in the presence of all of you. I admire your social and moral engagement in serving Canada to make it a better and more inclusive country. We’re on common ground.

Bill S-230 is a continuation of recommendations the Senate made 13 years ago.

Senators, Lost Canadians is the Canadian version of the British Windrush scandal, except ours is mostly off the radar, far larger, affects way more people and is one of the biggest scandals in Canada’s history. Now, that probably sounds presumptuous, especially after the horrific discovery of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. To explain why I make the comparison, those children, including all Indigenous people, are part of the Lost Canadian narrative. There are at least 15 categories of Lost Canadians, and Indigenous and First Nations are just one. But their story is our story and our story is their story. It’s about a country that has and continues to turn against its own people. Since Confederation, Canada has not always embraced Brown or Jewish people or other subgroups. Canadian history was written to conveniently include a colossal fabrication, which has produced heinous results. To know the truth, you must understand the history of citizenship.

Senators, you and the MPs are the guardians and caretakers of our collective identity called citizenship. You’re our parents, we’re your children and the family’s dysfunctional. Picture a neighbour befriending kids from all around but then secretly abusing their own children. That’s how it is for Lost Canadians. Canada welcomes people from around the world, but not us, your own children. To be clear, we’re pro-immigration; Canada needs people. But why are long-standing Canadian families rejected while immigrants are welcome? Why can’t there be room for everyone?

In 2003, in my first House of Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee testimony, I described myself as a Canadian in exile. Years later and after numerous rejections, I actually considered declaring refugee status in my own country, and I wasn’t the only Lost Canadian so desperate. Regrettably, this horror show is ongoing. It’s about identity, belonging and culture.

Indigenous Canadians are proud of who they are. I’m proud of who they are and admire their perseverance in standing up for what is right. Canada wrongly tried to strip them of their identity, with deadly consequences. Be forewarned: They are not the only category of Lost Canadians who died due to the neglect.

Now think of citizenship as being a member of a family. It’s the fibre of your being. How would you feel if your parents booted you out? Picture a six-year-old, born in Canada and extremely proud of being Canadian. Psychologically, how is that child affected when they discover that their own country or family doesn’t want them anymore? That child was me. How deplorable that this is still happening to other children, with the obvious devastating results. Their hurt lasts a lifetime.

Now flip the coin. How does it feel being the Canadian parent of a minor child being rejected? I know this too because, as an adult, after 47 years, Canada finally said I could go home with citizenship, but on condition I leave behind my minor-aged daughters. Today, some Canadian citizen parents are in the same boat, forced to explain to their kids why Canada doesn’t want them.

Lost Canadians is not about immigration. It’s about citizenship and rights. Please make the distinction.

Also, senators and MPs are appointed or elected to represent Canadian citizens. The problem is you don’t really know who is or is not a citizen, yet citizens are your constituents. So who exactly do you represent? The legislation remains a Rubik’s cube of confusion. Maybe it’s you, a family member, a grandchild or someone you know that’s a Lost Canadian. Roméo Dallaire lost his citizenship, as have other parliamentarians.

Question: If you’ve been aware of ongoing Lost Canadian abuses, why were you silent? Personally, I don’t think you were fully aware, but it wasn’t for my lack of trying to tell you. Going forward, no excuses, you now know. As for citizenship, Canada, the country you represent, is violating three United Nations human rights conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it’s already broken promises made on gender equality at the recent G7 summit. Maybe that’s because citizenship is not and has not been Canada’s priority. Take the name, IRCC. Immigration and refugees come before citizenship, the latter being the bastard child. For Lost Canadians, Canada’s outcasts, that’s exactly how it feels.

Bill S-230 is a much-needed fix. Thank you to my good friend Senator Martin and to Senator Omidvar. But for importance, the age 28 rule is third in priority of the five remaining Lost Canadian deficiencies. For the complete fix, Bill S-230 would need amendments that I’ve included, and the fixes are relatively simple. But absent that, tiered citizenship and unequal rights remain. Are you okay with that? It’s certainly against the Charter. That said, if amendments would delay the passage of this bill, then please pass it as is. Just don’t ignore other desperate Lost Canadians still in limbo, like children. As an airline pilot, I’d never ditch in the Hudson River and knowingly leave people behind. As overseers and protectors of Canadians and their identity and citizenship, please don’t you leave anyone behind either.

With urgency, put forward another Lost Canadians bill so that women have equal rights; that all Canadians are able to prove their substantial connection; that naturalized Canadians don’t have more rights than other Canadian citizens. Make it so that every naturalized Canadian, not just 99% of them, be deemed to have been born in Canada so that they too can confer citizenship to their children. Canada’s war dead must be recognized as having been the Canadian citizens they were.

After that, together, let’s work on introducing a mint-fresh, inclusive and Charter-compliant Citizenship Act. That’s what this committee recommended 13 years ago in your report on Lost Canadians, and then you promptly forgot about it, just like Canada did with the age 28 rule.

Now there are MPs and Canadians who believe the Senate is irrelevant. They’re wrong. For me and the hundreds of thousands of other Lost Canadians, we regained or qualified for citizenship because of wonderful and compassionate senators like yourselves, from all sides of the aisle. You were our saviours as Bill S-2 was our first parliamentary victory, and it was unanimous. Now let’s do it again, in the Senate today, with Bill S-230. Make it the first bill to correct these egregious wrongs, and then introduce a brand new, Charter-compliant national identity, making Canada the beacon of light to the world for its vision, its inclusiveness, its values and for its positive actions on human rights and equality.

Honourable senators, citizenship could be one of your greatest legacies. I look forward to working with you, and thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Chapman, for your opening remarks, and thank you for all the work. I’ve spent many hours in the last few days reading everything you’ve written. It’s fascinating, so thank you for all the time you’ve put into this fight.

We do have questions for you. Of course, colleagues, we must remain mindful that there might be a vote at some point in the chamber. We’ll keep you aware, of course, of what is going on. For now, let’s proceed with the questions we have.

I will ask that we keep it to four or five minutes for questions and answers. We will begin with the deputy chairs of the committee.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, Senator Martin and Mr. Chapman. I very much appreciate the passion and the personal approach that you’ve taken on this big issue and on behalf of many others, which leads me straight to my question. How many Lost Canadians will actually be affected by this bill?

Mr. Chapman: It is impossible to know. That’s the problem, because it has gone on for so long that we do not know. The estimates are it could be a couple of hundred and it could be greater than that. We just don’t know. I wish I could give you a clearer, more precise answer, but I can’t.

Senator Martin: May I just add, Senator Bovey, that I know I was asked in the chamber about this, and Senator Omidvar and I discussed it after. Because it’s a 50-month window of individuals born during that period, we don’t know the actual numbers, but our estimation is that it’s not a huge number. As Don has said, there’s a lot of fixes that need to happen in the Citizenship Act, but we started here because it seemed that this was missed when the Bill C-37 was introduced back in 2009. It’s those who were not captured. They were grandfathered individuals but those who had already turned 28. So we don’t have the actual number, but I would say it’s within a 50-month window.

Senator Bovey: I appreciate that.

I have a quick follow-up, because I don’t want to take much time. If we don’t know the number, may I ask how, if this bill is passed, the communication plan should try to capture those numbers? Also, what reporting back will you do to let us know what those numbers are?

The Chair: Do you have an idea on that? Who was that question addressed to, Senator Bovey?

Senator Bovey: If Mr. Chapman can talk about the communication efforts, and Senator Martin can talk about reporting back what the findings are, I’d be very grateful.

Mr. Chapman: Okay. The committee that would probably know the most about that would be the Mennonite Central Committee, because it seems that a lot of Mennonites were caught in this area.

Senator Bovey: Interesting.

Mr. Chapman: So they’ve already gotten some people back. I have worked to get a lot of people back. But it’s very hard.

Then one citizenship certificate might actually encompass other people. Let’s say you’re the Lost Canadian, and you came to Canada. You might have sponsored somebody, a family member or somebody else to Canada. So it becomes next to impossible to know.

Vic Toews, the old MP, is Mennonite. He was born in Paraguay, and at one point he wondered if he was one. It turned out he wasn’t. But there are others in that committee, and they work a lot with the people in Manitoba.

Senator Bovey: I’m from Manitoba, so I was looking at what your wider communications plan is.

Senator Martin: In 2021, we have online information outreach that could happen much more effectively. We also will speak to officials, and as you said, we should follow up and get a sense of what the numbers are looking like. But we will have to make an effort to do that kind of outreach. Through Don’s network and Lost Canadians, there’s a supportive group as well. Following the adoption of this, we’ll have to look at a variety of multi-pronged approaches for this and then do the follow-up to assess what has happened since the passage of the bill, if that’s what happens.

Your question is very important, senator, and I promise to continue to work on this with my colleagues and follow up with the officials.

Senator Bovey: Thank you.

Mr. Chapman: There are a lot of people in Manitoba watching this right now because they’re affected. Whatever communications we do to get the word out will be far superior to the work the government did to cancel their citizenship. They didn’t do anything.

The Chair: Thank you for that question. It’s very interesting.

Senator Frum: Actually, Mr. Chapman, I’m going to follow up on something you said a moment ago in reference to our old colleague Minister Toews. You said he wondered if he was one of the lost citizens, and then he found out he wasn’t. Is it possible for people to be unaware of their status and think they have full Canadian status but they don’t?

Mr. Chapman: Actually, I was looking at all of your bios. There are so many red flags just on your family alone that could have made you a Lost Canadian. I could have taken citizenship from anybody. That’s how whacky the laws were.

Roméo Dallaire lost his. He had no clue that it happened to him. I have Members of Parliament who lost their citizenship. I think you have a brother in the United States; maybe he had children born down there. There is an age 24 rule.

So the answer is that most people didn’t even know that they were Lost Canadians. One day, they go to get a driver’s licence renewed or retire to collect their pensions — it was just everywhere.

Senator Frum: So unless you have an event that triggers it, such as going to get a passport or some official documentation, you may not be aware; is that what you’re saying?

Mr. Chapman: That is absolutely true.

Senator Frum: You made reference to the fact that in the lost citizenship file, women are more disadvantaged. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Mr. Chapman: Yes. I’ll start with testimony that I gave before this committee in April 2004.

Let’s say you, as a Canadian woman, had a child in the United States with an American husband. There was a time that you had no right to confer citizenship to your child because you were a woman. Now reverse it: You’re the American and your husband is the Canadian. Then yes, the child was Canadian. That’s my sister and my brother right there.

Prior to 1947, let’s say, Joe Volpe, the old Citizenship Minister — his mother, a Canadian, married an Italian. Boom, she was gone; she was the property of her husband. I was property of my father in Canadian law. So because she was a woman, she could not confer, but she also became stateless. Canada did that to an awful lot of people.

When Bill C-37 passed, it froze into law the gender discrimination. What is really interesting about that is that there was a court case Benner v. Canada (Secretary of State) in 1997, and it was exactly about a Canadian woman being married to an American husband, and yet the child couldn’t be Canadian. The Supreme Court ruled this was blatant discrimination. Between that and another case, O.J. v. Canada, they determined that all foreign-born children of a Canadian parent have the right of citizenship.

So I came into the Senate and said it was fascinating. I was born in Canada, in wedlock and was not adopted. Had any of these factors been different, I would have remained Canadian, but because I was born in Canada, I’m not Canadian. It all had to do with those nutty laws.

So when Bill C-37 came in, they froze into law the second generation issue, and that froze all the women and all the decedents of those women, except a first generation born abroad. They’re out, whereas all of the descendants of the men were in. The only way to undo the gender discrimination that’s ongoing is to say that all second generation born abroad prior to the implementation of Bill C-37 are in. Then gender discrimination goes away.

Senator Martin: Just to note, Senator Frum, that it’s very complex, as you can hear. This bill is focusing on just that 50-month window. This is where I started because the other changes that are needed are much more complex. We’ll have to look at how we do that. Bill S-230 focuses on the age 28 rule that forgot to capture the 50-month window. It didn’t forget; it didn’t. I wanted to bring the discussion back to the bill, because all the other things are so complicated. We do need to fix them, but that’s for another time.

Senator Frum: Thank you, both.

The Chair: Thank you for such precision on the scope of that bill.

Senator R. Black: My first question is for our colleague, Senator Martin. What role should the government play in communicating the changes, when they take place? I’m being positive. You talked about social media and things like that, but what specific role should the government take?

Senator Martin: That is the question we love to ask our officials and our departments who are in charge of these matters. It’s a matter of citizenship and identity, so I would hope that the department would use all of their means to communicate on their websites and in their written communications to the different regional offices. There’s traditional media and social media. We would have to try and get the information out more broadly.

I’m going to definitely follow up with departmental officials and speak to the minister. Minister Mendicino is aware of these issues. He has given his verbal commitment to work with us going forward. He’s aware of this bill, also. When he was in our chamber the other day, I didn’t ask him specifically about this because we were looking at Bill C-8, but he is aware. So I will be following up very closely with his department and the officials who will be in charge of getting this out.

Senator R. Black: Thank you, Mr. Chapman, for joining us today. I have two questions.

The number is unknown, as you have said. It could be 200. I heard that number either today or earlier — or it could be more. With that in mind, what will success look like to you? If this turns 50 people, you’ll say that’s 50 people more, so that’s good, but what will success look like for you?

For my second question, you have talked about Indigenous groups, about this group of 28 factor and about women, but I think you said there were five groups. What are the other two?

Mr. Chapman: Success is, first off, capturing everybody. The best way I can describe that is that the percentage of people in Germany during World War II who were Jewish is 0.3%. By ignoring 0.3%, look what it did to the country. You capture everyone. You don’t want a pilot that doesn’t care about the 0.3%. That would equate to one person of a school of 300 that is a bully. You want to correct that bully. To me, success on this bill is capturing everybody. Success, in the bigger picture, is recapturing every one of these Lost Canadians and a new citizenship act that is finally Charter compliant.

You asked what they were. When they put in Bill C-37, you had a problem when it was the second generation who were born abroad. They also said that all naturalized Canadians will be deemed to be born in Canada for purposes of passing on citizenship, and then when the bill actually came into effect, they changed it and said all naturalized, unless you were a child of a Lost Canadian who was naturalized. You just have to make it so that it is all naturalized, so that equal is equal.

Why are naturalized Canadians deemed to be born in Canada? Because they have shown a substantial connection to Canada, which is usually 1095 days of residency. But if you’re the first generation born abroad, like Roméo Dallaire, people like that can never amass substantial connection to Canada. They’ve frozen it out. You could become Prime Minister, and you don’t have a substantial connection to Canada. To show you the absurdity of that, Ted Cruz of the United States, who is an anchor baby and happened to be born in Calgary, could pass on citizenship, but somebody like Roméo Dallaire could not. You have to say every Canadian has the right to prove a substantial connection to Canada and, if they do so, they will be deemed to be born in Canada so that you don’t have citizens of convenience.

With that, Canada immediately started producing stateless children. There are a lot of people out there today who are under family separation. You heard about that in the United States — kids being separated from their parents. Well, Canada is doing that right now and has been. We have children who are in dire straits, who are now 12 years old and have been turned down by IRCC five separate times. Psychologically, this is taking quite a toll. We need to correct it for the children. All that is needed is that their parent, if they have a substantial connection, you’re in.

Then, the war dead. Mackenzie King was both an anti-Semite and a racist. He made up a story that citizenship began on January 1, 1947. What people in Canada don’t know is the story of the Japanese. We all know they were interned, but very few people know that the people in B.C. went to Mackenzie King and said, “We want you to deport them.” But deporting citizens was considered a crime against humanity by the United Nations after what had happened to the Jews in Germany, so he couldn’t deport them. So in 1945, he issued an order-in-council cancelling their citizenship, and it went to the Supreme Court in 1946, and they ruled, yes, you can cancel their citizenship, and he did. Immediately, 3,997 Japanese Canadians were made stateless and deported. Then he did the Citizenship Act to cover his tracks. But how do you cancel citizenship in 1945 if it didn’t exist until 1947? If citizenship didn’t exist until 1947, none of our war dead were Canadian, and none of those Canadian battles like Vimy Ridge were Canadian. They would be British. It’s easy. There are no derivative claims. They’re all Canadians. They’re all dead, too, so it’s honour of the Crown. That’s the answer.

The Chair: Thank you for that.

Senator Martin: There’s a lot of history.

Senator Ataullahjan: Some of my questions were already answered. I’m not a regular on this committee; I’m replacing someone. When I was told I was coming to this committee, I tried to read up on the Lost Canadians, and my mind is going in circles. I’m reading about Butterbox Babies, about border babies and about how the Chinese were given certificates before 1947 to say that this does not establish legal status.

You spoke, Mr. Chapman, of the history of citizenship. Why has Canada rejected so many? I thought it was a small number, but we don’t know what the number is. I’m in Toronto, and we hear stories of either somebody getting into trouble with the law or they go to do something and they find out that they are not citizens. It keeps coming up, and we ask, how did this happen? Give me a bit of the history. Why are we rejecting so many people, and why are we making it so hard? Why don’t we hear more about this in the news when we are so willing to hear about what’s happening to children in other countries?

Mr. Chapman: You don’t hear about it in the news because I find that the Canadian media is the worst I’ve ever seen in the world. I’ve travelled the world as an airline pilot. In North Korea, China and Russia, they can’t tell the stories, but in Canada, they can. They have just chosen not to. It’s appalling to me. In 2006 or 2007, all the war brides of World War II and their children — that was 67,000 people — were put into a judicial review to be booted out of Canada. The Canadian press didn’t do one story on it for the whole year, but they did 345 stories on Céline Dion, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

When Canada first became Canada, when the British turned over the reins and Canada took them, the very first thing they tried to do was get the Indigenous people to become Canadian citizens. That way, you could exclude them from the Indian Act. They were given citizenship, then they took it away, then they got it back, and again they took it away. It wasn’t till the 1960s that Canada gave it back to them. The Chinese were told they weren’t citizens. It was a very racist time. You know about the Komagata Maru. One that very few people know about is about people who graduated from the University of Toronto, the Weiss family. Dr. Weiss was Jewish. It was about 1940. He could not get residency in Toronto, and he didn’t have admitting privileges for his patients. He had no choice but to leave Canada, and he couldn’t come back because he wasn’t in Canada in 1947.

It’s cleaning up the racism, if you want to get down to it. I’m one of these privileged white guys, but that leaves me with a greater obligation to speak out. Even for women — I’m a man, but how am I okay with all of these things? We have to learn our history. Canadians have never been taught the true history of Canada. I did an approximately 50-page thing about the history of Canada. It’s quite interesting reading. You’ll be getting that.

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you.

How do we compare to the rest of the world? Never in my wildest dreams did I think there were so many people so affected by this. Is this an ongoing problem in other countries that we don’t hear about?

Mr. Chapman: Here was the language that stripped me of my citizenship: Married women were property of their husbands, children property of their fathers if born in wedlock and their mothers if born out of wedlock. Here is the exact language, and it was basically all the British colonies: “Married women, minors, lunatics and idiots will be classified under the same disability for the national status.” That was all over the British colonies, and what happened was everyone has pretty much cleaned it up. Bangladesh, Trinidad, the Caribbean — everyone has cleaned it up. Canada is the last holdout. You would never believe that from a country that goes around saying that we’re for human rights, fairness, compassion and good government, but Canada is the last holdout.

The Windrush scandal that is going on in England had a lot to do with England cancelling people’s citizenship who had come up from the Caribbean and they are now just discovering it. The difference in England now was that these people went to their members of Parliament, they brought it up in the House of Lords, the media jumped on it, and then they discovered when they looked at the history, none of the parliamentarians in England really understood citizenship.

I come to Canada and see all three problems are still there. So we need to really study this thing called citizenship because it’s very precious, and after all this time from 1986 to now we should have a Charter-compliant Citizenship Act, but we don’t.

Senator Dasko: Thank you to our witnesses today. I’m still contemplating this issue.

My question is similar but slightly different from Senator Ataullahjan’s. I’m trying to understand why this issue hasn’t had success so far, because there is unfairness here. Obviously there are people who should be Canadian citizens and are not. Has this issue been too complex? Is it too obscure? Is it too hidden? Are there controversial elements to it?

Senator Martin, you have been in this Senate for many years and understand politics and issues and how they unfold and become legislation. You understand the process quite well. I’m looking for your analysis. Why hasn’t this been dealt with before? Because there certainly is some unfairness here for many people. Mr. Chapman can respond as well, but I’d like to hear Senator Martin first.

Senator Martin: I just saw the note that our vote will be soon. Should I answer this later?

The Chair: My suggestion would be that you answer. This is the last question that we have. If you can answer this question now, that would be great, and then we can all leave and log back to vote.

Senator Martin: Here is what I will say. It is very complex, and I do not even begin to say I understand this entirely myself except this group of Lost Canadians being addressed in Bill S-230 should have been addressed in Bill C-37. When I have been searching to find the answer as to why they were not, the closest answer I got was simply that it’s complex to make amendments to the Citizenship Act. Don believes we should revamp the entire thing. To try to do it takes so much coordination and effort, and this was just missed. They grandfathered, but not those who already turned 28. It was a 50-month window.

Citizenship is quite a privilege. It’s a right to a certain extent. We have to look at how complex this is. We have an amazing country so a lot of people want to be citizens. I agree with Don that a lot of people are captured. My brother was one of them. When he had to go to renew something, we discovered that what’s on the citizenship certificate we received — we were allowed to put our names. It wasn’t the same as what was on the landing papers. Something as small as that can create complications. This bill, colleagues, will help capture those who should have been reinstated through Bill C-37. It wasn’t perfect, and we hope that this can correct it. We will work on future bills together, I hope.

The Chair: Thank you all. We will be back for the second panel after the vote.

(The committee suspended.)


(The committee resumed.)

The Chair: Welcome back, senators. We are continuing our review of Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians). Thank you for making your way back to this meeting very quickly. It is much appreciated.

Before we left for our vote in the chamber, Senator Martin answered a question. I wanted to make sure, Mr. Chapman, that you also have time to answer that question before we proceed to our next panel. Please go ahead, Mr. Chapman.

Mr. Chapman: Thank you.

The question, if I’m correct, was about the issue being very complex. The answer is that you could never learn to fly an airplane, nor would you ever get on an airplane, with a pilot who had one hour of flight instruction. Similarly, I can’t tell the Lost Canadians story or the citizenship story of Canada in one hour. The best way is to read my book. There is incredible stuff in there about medical experimentation, Canada doing it to children and women. My latest Lost Canadian, a victim of the residential school system, died less than two months ago. But he never attended residential school. The back story is something that Canada needs to hear.

Parents didn’t register their babies, so they’re stateless in Canada. World War II soldiers born in Canada and who went to their graves disenfranchised from their own countries is incredible.

Citizenship is a privilege in Canada; it is not a right. If Mr. Trump could have cancelled Mr. Biden’s citizenship, he would have. We have to make sure that, in Canada, citizenship becomes a right.

Senator Manning, you’re from Newfoundland. If citizenship didn’t exist before 1947, the agreement for Newfoundland to become part of Canada was that they would be deemed to be citizens back to their date of birth or date of domicile, that would make the Newfies Canada’s first citizens.

Roméo Dallaire described his being a Lost Canadian as inhuman. There are about 1 to 2 million Lost Canadians altogether.

Going forward, what we do in the cockpit is we talk about synergy between the pilots, dispatchers and everyone, and using all available resources. Let’s do it again. Let’s go forward with things. We had a bill. Bill C-18 was all set to go as the new citizenship act. That was in 2003, and it died. It could just be picked up and started over again.

I’m trying to put myself out of business because I’m kind of Canada’s unofficial citizenship ombudsman. They need a real one. This is something where we have to become more like the Danes rather than the Dutch in World War II. The Danes protected their Jews. In Canada, we have been drinking the bathwater, saying how good we are. Yes, we have a lot of bragging rights, but we also have some things to clean up.

If anyone wants to contact me, you can, privately. We can do private Zoom meetings. If you need explanations, I’m here. Thank you, honourable senators. Thank you, Senator Martin and Senator Omidvar.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Chapman, for being here. Of course, yes, we will be able to reach out if any senators need more information or have questions.

We will continue, honourable senators, with our next witnesses.

[Translation]

We are pleased to have with us Catherine Scott, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. We also welcome Alec Attfield, Director General, Citizenship Branch, Strategic and Program Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Thank you very much for joining us today. Ms. Scott, let me invite to you to give your introductory remarks.

Catherine Scott, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Madam Chair, and ladies and gentlemen of the committee, thank you for inviting us today.

[English]

We are very pleased to be here today.

My remarks will focus on citizenship by descent, which is the focus of Bill S-230 and one of three ways of becoming Canadian under the Citizenship Act. The other two ways include birth on Canadian soil, which has been in place since the first Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947, and there’s also naturalization by way of a grant of citizenship once specified requirements set out in the act are met.

Currently, any child born outside Canada in the first generation is Canadian through descent if one of their parents was either born in Canada or was naturalized before the birth of the child.

As the committee may be aware, the rules for citizenship by descent have changed over time since the Citizenship Act came into force in 1947. Formerly, citizenship by descent could continue indefinitely; however, citizens born abroad had to take specific actions to retain their citizenship. In the 1977 act, for example, those born in the second generation had to apply to retain their citizenship by age 28. If these people did not take steps to retain their citizenship, it was lost.

The requirements and complexities of the first Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, and the former provisions of the current Citizenship Act, created cohorts of individuals who lost their citizenship status. This led to the emergence of individuals who refer to themselves as Lost Canadians. This was one of the drivers that led to the simplification and clarification of the rules governing citizenship by descent, which were introduced in 2009.

On April 17, 2009, legislative amendments gave citizenship back to almost all Lost Canadians. At the same time, these amendments created a clear first-generation limit to the right to citizenship by descent and removed those complex retention requirements.

[Translation]

These changes meant that only those born in the first generation outside of Canada are Canadian citizens by descent at birth. This limit applied equally to all, with limited exceptions for Crown servants working abroad.

As such, those born abroad in the second or subsequent generations had to apply for a grant of citizenship, instead of having to apply to retain their citizenship. This ensured that citizenship was for people with a connection to Canada.

[English]

The introduction of the first generation limit did not take citizenship away from anyone who was already a citizen. This meant that any person who had not yet turned 28 before the repeal of the former retention requirements remained a citizen. The people affected by the changes were a cohort born abroad between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, in the second or subsequent generations who had already turned 28 and had not applied to retain their status. Further legislative changes in 2015 addressed more Lost Canadians, with a focus on those who were born before 1947.

While the Citizenship Act limits the automatic acquisition of citizenship to the first generation born abroad, it’s important to note that there are other pathways to secure a grant of citizenship for children whose Canadian parents were also born abroad.

Finally, the Citizenship Act also provides for a discretionary grant of citizenship to any person to alleviate cases of statelessness or of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional nature to Canada. It’s worth noting that, since 2014, 109 individuals have been granted citizenship under the discretionary grants on the basis of special and unusual hardship associated with losing their citizenship under the retention requirement of the former Citizenship Act of 1977.

Thank you for your time, Madam Chair. We’re happy to answer your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much for those opening remarks. We do have a few questions. We will begin as usual with our co-chairs.

Senator Bovey: Thank you, Ms. Scott. I appreciate the clarity with which you brought forward the historical connection, which is really important to one whose deceased husband was an archivist and who has grandchildren born out of the country. I feel I come at it from two ways.

Can you give us a sense as to the number of Lost Canadians who will be affected by this bill? Our previous witness obviously didn’t have the access to information that you have. I just wonder if you can fill in that gap for us, and then I will have a subsequent question.

Ms. Scott: I am happy to answer that question. We know about Lost Canadians when they come forward to seek a grant of citizenship. I talked about the amendments and changes that have been made to the Citizenship Act over time, and we have seen a large number of individuals come forward. As the changes in 2009 and 2015 took place, we saw approximately 17,500 individuals come forward and be issued proofs of citizenship related to those amendments to the act.

As to the last cohort of Lost Canadians, it’s difficult to say exactly how many individuals would be in this cohort. We do believe it is quite a small number. As I mentioned in my remarks, since 2014, 109 individuals have come forward and applied and received a grant of discretionary consideration and citizenship.

Senator Bovey: May I presume that accountability will come back to the chamber so that we can know how many people it really affects, or take up on it, I should say, because I think that would be really important. I hate to think of Canadians being lost anywhere, lost in citizenship or whatever. I would be very interested in the follow-up.

What kind of communication approaches will you put in place to ensure that those who are lost both know that they are lost and know how they can be found?

Ms. Scott: The information that is available on the IRCC website is quite clear about the rules that apply to citizenship and how those discretionary grants work, as well as how the parents of individuals born abroad in the second generation can come forward to apply for permanent residency and then citizenship for their children.

Senator Bovey: What about those who don’t know that they’re lost and so therefore aren’t looking at the site? Once you know you want to do something, you can find ways to do it. I’m concerned about how people become aware that they can do it or might be affected by it. How do we deal with those who are unsuspecting and unknowing? our previous witness talked about many people not knowing that they are Lost Canadians.

Ms. Scott: I will invite my colleague to add further information on that point.

Alec Attfield, Director General, Citizenship Branch, Strategic and Program Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada: Thank you. I appreciate the question, senator.

As ADM Scott mentioned, when the changes arose in 2009 and subsequently in 2015, there was broad communication of the implications of the changes in law and who was then to be granted citizenship. As a result of the communications there, in the range of 17,500 people became Canadian citizens or regained their citizenship as a result of that. There was extensive and sustained communication at that time. With the 2015 amendments, another 600 cases were identified and became Canadians as a result of the changes in the law and the communication that resulted from that.

With these changes that are being proposed, how will people become aware of it now if they have not been identified or identified themselves? As ADM Scott mentioned, 109 individuals have come forward based on the former provisions, the 28 year provisions, as referred to earlier. They recognized that they had not obtained their citizenship or have citizenship. Usually those things arise as a result of seeking a passport or some other document that requires a proof of citizenship. It is through that process that people are made aware of their status. Then they are informed about how they could regain citizenship, usually through a grant of citizenship using the minister’s discretionary authority. The numbers are relatively low. Our methods for directing people are very much direct and addressed case by case as they arise.

Senator Bovey: I know well the great delight when one gets the grant of citizenship through application, and I know how long it takes to get that because some of my grandchildren are still in process for that. Thank you.

Senator R. Black: What will you do outside of the website rules and forcing people to the website? I’m building on my colleague’s question. Do you anticipate doing anything out of the ordinary to inform these Lost Canadians, for example, placing ads in newspapers across the country or different things?

My second question centres around what if any financial impacts will be incurred by Canadian taxpayers to re-establish these Lost Canadians’ citizenship? Thank you.

Ms. Scott: If there are changes to the Citizenship Act, the department — as it would when there is any major legislative change — would undertake a proactive and sustained communication strategy. We would need to look at that.

In terms of cost, I can’t say that we’re able to provide a detailed analysis of that, but it’s something that would be examined more closely if the bill was adopted.

Senator R. Black: Thank you.

The Chair: I have a question from Senator Mégie and then Senator Ataullahjan, but Ms. Scott, I would first like to ask a question myself.

The way I read it, it seems that we know about these Lost Canadians, that lost cohort, as you call them, and we’re not doing much to find them, from what I understand. If they manifest themselves and ask, what you’re saying is they do get citizenship granted. All of them? You mentioned 109. Did everybody who showed up and manifested themselves obtain citizenship? Is that what I understand?

Ms. Scott: I’ll just invite my colleague, Mr. Attfield, to provide the details on that.

Mr. Attfield: Thank you, senator.

Generally, the numbers are small. As I indicated earlier, there was significant awareness of the changes that previously occurred, both in 2009 and 2015, so that raised people’s awareness of the implications.

For the cohort that is being referred to in this piece of legislation, most individuals would be in their early 40s at this point, and they will have either established themselves in Canada or elsewhere. The 109 applications we’ve received reflect what we might usually expect as the cohort ages and as people go through their lived experience and seek a passport or what have you. We see the numbers declining as the years go on, so it is a much more marginal implication.

To the latter part of your question, there were 109 applications, 105 of which have been dispensed with, and they have all been granted. There are four that are continuing under review right now. I could not say that everyone gets it, but those are the numbers that we have. That is since 2014.

The Chair: Thank you for that. Senator Omidvar spoke in support of the bill in the chamber, and she mentioned something that I feel is important. Not everybody has the same tools and capacity to reach out and get their citizenship recognized. What I was trying to understand is that the government is not being proactive in finding them. Am I correct in saying that?

Mr. Attfield: It’s fair to say that given the small number of applications, Madam Chair, we are not out looking for Lost Canadians. They have generally self-identified through the process of making an application for some sort of identity document, usually a status of citizenship or a passport.

The Chair: Thank you for that precision.

[Translation]

Did you have a question, Senator Mégie?

Senator Mégie: If I understand correctly, passing Bill S-230 will regularize the situation of those who lost their citizenship. However, what will be the impact on those born before June 2021, that is, before Bill S-230 was passed, and afterwards? As soon as they approach the age of 28, will they have to go and apply for citizenship at an embassy?

Ms. Scott: So, the way the Citizenship Act works at the moment is that citizenship is limited to the first generation.

[English]

This is a clear and transparent rule that’s easy to understand, and it eliminates a lot of the complexity that was previously associated with individuals having to apply to retain their citizenship. That first generation, automatic grants. The second generation would need to apply for their citizenship. That’s what currently stands under the Citizenship Act today.

I’ll just invite my colleague to add any further details.

Mr. Attfield: That is correct. Without comment on the specific function of the proposed bill, as it stands now, anybody who is born second generation abroad would have to make an application for permanent residency first and then seek what is a specific grant of citizenship — it’s under section 5.2 of the act — which is designed specifically and came into force along with the original 2009 changes, recognizing that there would be people born in the second generation who feel that they are connected to Canada and whose parents wish that they become Canadian. It is a simplified grant process that is targeted for minors of parents who are Canadian and who give birth abroad.

[Translation]

The Chair: Thank you. Does that answer your question, Senator Mégie?

Senator Mégie: Yes, thank you.

[English]

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you to the witnesses.

Ms. Scott, you spoke of discretionary consideration and hardship consideration. Could you give us a few examples of what that would be, giving citizenship to certain people?

Ms. Scott: My colleague will respond to that one.

Mr. Attfield: Thank you, senator.

In response to your question, the provisions of the discretionary grant that the minister has to provide citizenship to those under special circumstances are really quite broad and allow for the minister to broadly interpret the circumstances under which an individual’s case is being considered and merits being granted citizenship.

Certainly we’ve seen numerable cases where, as previously described, a person who was born abroad but returned to Canada may not have taken the steps necessary but knows no other life than having been born and raised in Canada. Of course, we understand, and that is deemed a compelling case and results, in a general sense, in the awarding of a discretionary grant by the minister.

It’s worth noting that the discretionary grant of citizenship also then allows that individual’s child to also pass on citizenship. The grant of citizenship allows that person to extend their citizenship so that basically the first generation limit will not apply to their child as a result. It resets the person’s generational clock for passing on citizenship if that person has a child born abroad.

Senator Ataullahjan: The way I understand it, then, is that it’s at the discretion of the immigration minister as to whom he can grant citizenship. Am I hearing that correctly? Is my understanding of that correct?

Mr. Attfield: That is correct. It’s a discretionary authority of the minister that the minister could choose to exercise himself or herself or leave to the delegate. There are ministry delegates, and they have an independent function within the department to review cases and assess whether they merit that discretionary grant. That is one means for those situations to be addressed.

Senator Ataullahjan: These cases, then, would be given to the minister’s office through the department? Or would the minister also have some cases that he can make a decision on that have come to his office directly?

Mr. Attfield: Normally, the process is that the application for a discretionary grant would be received by the department. Those would be reviewed. The minister would be informed of those decisions. The minister may wish to take on certain decisions himself or leave it to the decision maker who has been delegated that authority. Once it has been determined that it’s either the delegate or the minister, then that is maintained so there is no complexity or conflict that results. Either the minister chooses to do it or leaves it to the delegate to make that decision.

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you for these questions and answers. Colleagues, I don’t see any other hands raised. I take it that we have no further questions.

With that, I will thank our witnesses for today. Thank you for being here with us on the second panel and thank you for answering our questions.

Senator Martin, of course, thank you so much for bringing this bill forward and being with us here today.

Senators, is it agreed to proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians)?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Let’s begin.

Shall the title stand postponed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 1 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall clause 2 carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the title carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Shall the bill carry?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Does this committee wish to consider appending observations to the report?

Senator R. Black: There have been a couple of comments about requesting success back. I think Pat has asked it a couple of times. Is that something that gets put in an observation, or do we go seek that later on? It’s just, “How successful was this?”

The Chair: As a member, you have the possibility of adding an observation to the report we will table, if we agree. The way to do that would be, of course, to present a written observation in both official languages. That would be the way to do that. Obviously, you will also have some time to speak on third reading if you wish to do. It is really in the hands of the members to decide what they wish to do at this time.

Senator R. Black: I’m fine. But we have heard that question a couple of times.

The Chair: Yes, we have.

Senator Bovey: I think it’s an important question. It’s an important question for fact. I also think it’s an important question about what did happen in those years and what other corollary issues might we need to be taking a look at. I wouldn’t be averse to writing a very short observation and submitting it to the clerk, if that would be acceptable.

The Chair: If it is a very short observation that we can possibly agree on right at the moment, we have the possibility of doing that. Of course, it needs to be in both official languages, which is why we would prefer to have it in front of us before we speak on it and before we agree on it.

Senator Kutcher: We may be able to find out the raw numbers, but we will never be able to determine the proportionality, which is really what we need to do for success. We don’t know what the denominator is. I would just raise that for us to think about.

Senator R. Black: You’re right. You’re right.

Senator Bovey: I’m happy to let it go. I thank Senator Black for coming back to it, because I think it is important. If this bill is important, then I think knowing the scope and the impact of the bill is —

Senator R. Black: Equally important.

Senator Bovey: — therefore important. That’s where I’m coming from.

Senator Kutcher: Yes. Agreed.

The Chair: I see a lot of nodding.

Senator Forest-Niesing: Similarly, I am concerned about communication strategy. If time wasn’t as tight, we might want to include an observation with respect to communication strategy that can accompany this bill. Obviously, there are many Canadians who don’t know what they don’t know. Senator Bovey’s questions were raising that. I do think that most Canadians are completely unaware, as I was prior to this issue coming before us.

What I think we might be able to do, rather than doing it in the form of an observation, is either one of us agrees that they will speak in third reading and we make those suggestions, or we try to influence those who we know are already speaking on the bill and have a conversation with them about the possibility of including something like that in the bill that I’m sure no one would disagree with. Those are my thoughts.

[Translation]

Senator Mégie: Is it possible for those who have very legitimate observations, on communication and on Senator Bovey’s observation, to send them to the committee analysts this evening? They can then be distributed to members of the social affairs committee tomorrow morning for approval. In that way, we could move more quickly.

The Chair: I understand what you are saying, Senator Mégie.

[English]

There is a way to ask steering to look over an observation. They could be helped by the analyst in terms of what you have been putting on the floor today. That is one option. The option of speaking at third reading is another option to voice those questions that we have. That is another option. There is also the option that, as chair, when I table the report, I would be happy to voice those questions. We can do that too.

What I want to put on the floor is that, of course, this may very well be the last meeting of SOCI until September. I want us to be mindful of that, because we will not meet again to approve and agree, if we want to be very specific. However, you as members have a right to do that.

Senator Martin, what are your thoughts?

Senator Martin: I’m just listening carefully to the discussion. I guess I wanted to say that this is something I would be happy to address in my speech. When we pass legislation, it’s the framework, and post-enactment of a piece of legislation we then rely on the officials to look at strategies that will help the legislation be successfully implemented.

I believe that the kind of follow-up that senators have expressed is important, because I’m learning, just listening to the officials, that it is a small cohort. But how do we ensure that the information is available and that we see success through this?

I know from Don Chapman and other advocates that this was missed. It’s a 50-month window. Having it in place allows those who in their own way, potentially, come forward because of an event that is triggered to apply and something has to be renewed. In British Columbia, my brother had to get a health card, and his citizenship card had a different spelling of his name from his landing papers. It took us two years to resolve that. Each case will be very exceptional, but I know Don will continue to advocate.

I promise you, as the sponsor and as your colleague, that I will follow up on some of these questions to the department and the minister. I hope that that assures you in some respects, and I thank you for your attention to this bill today.

The Chair: Thank you, Senator Martin. I appreciate what you are offering.

If members would be comfortable with this, I can ask you to follow up in your third reading speech. Like I said, with the support of the steering members, I’m quite happy to voice those follow-ups and questions that we had when I table the report. That way, it would be on the record both by you and me in representing the steering members. Would that be agreeable to the members?

Senator Kutcher: Madam Chair, in this case, I think less is more. I think you’ve hit upon a wonderful solution.

The Chair: Perfect. Let’s do this. I will connect with the steering members, and we will make sure that we voice the questions and follow-ups you had. Thanks for that.

Let me complete this: Does the committee wish to consider appending observations to the report?

Hon. Senators: No.

The Chair: Is it agreed that I report this bill to the Senate?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much, senators, and thank you, Senator Martin, for your collaboration in finding a good way to voice all of the questions.

Senators, I will keep you for a few more minutes, if you don’t mind, because as I said, this is most likely going to be the last SOCI meeting that we have until after our pause for the summer, so I want to take a moment to thank a few people.

There’s no doubt that the last year has been quite challenging for all of us. Yet — and I have it on my paper here — we have done a lot of work in this committee. We have been fulfilling our responsibilities. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. I asked our clerk, Dan, and he told me that we have succeeded, despite all the challenges and breaks that we had to have due to the pandemic, to have 12 meetings over 25 hours, hearing from 73 witnesses, and we tabled a number of reports. I’m quite satisfied that we’ve been able to achieve all of that. As you know, there are a lot of great individuals behind the scenes that I want to recognize. In sports, we call them the team behind the team. I will take a few minutes to thank them.

[Translation]

I want to give my sincere thanks to all those who have worked very hard so that we ourselves were able to do the work of this committee properly.

So here goes. A huge thank you from myself, and from the members of the committee, to the technicians in the Information Services Directorate. My thanks also to the reporters and transcribers, the Debates and Publications revisors, the technicians in multimedia services, our television directors, the committee room support staff, and the maintenance staff, who have taken on many additional responsibilities this year. My thanks also to the clerks and to the administrative assistants in the Committees Directorate. Finally, a huge thank you to our interpreters. We have all gone through a year in virtual mode; it was by no means easy, and we are very grateful to you.

My thanks to all the assistants of the senators on the committee, including my assistants Momar Diagne and Vincent Côté. Thank you so much for helping us with our work. My thanks to our communications officer, Ben Silverman. Huge thanks to Laura Melgram, the committee’s administrative assistant, and to our other two Lauras. I say that as a personal note, because we worked very well together. My thanks to our Library of Parliament analysts, Laura Munn-Rivard and Laura Blackburn. Huge thanks to the best clerk out of all the Senate committees, Daniel Charbonneau; we have always appreciated your work. My thanks to the members of the steering committee, which had no regular schedule this year. Senator Frum, Senator Bovey, Senator R. Black and Senator Poirier; thank you for your great cooperation, it was a pleasure to work with you. Finally, my thanks to all the members of the committee.

[English]

Thank you for being here and for engaging. This is what makes SOCI such a great committee to work in. You members have your expertise and competence, but you’re also engaging with everything that you can offer to this committee, and it shows.

Thank you very much everybody.

Senator Bovey: I want to say to our chair that I agree with everything you said, but I have to say you have expertly guided us through the many pieces of legislation have we done just over the last 10 days. It’s been amazing. I want to thank you for your steady hand, your open mind and your inclusiveness to all of us and our questions, from whatever direction we happen to come.

[Translation]

Congratulations, Madam Chair and thank you for everything.

The Chair: Thank you all.

[English]

Stay safe. Stay well. Have a great summer.

(The committee adjourned.)

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