In early February, Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, presented Bill C-24, which is supposed to bring about fundamental change in the immigration process.
The bill, which is designed to reduce immigration fraud, was brought to parliament for approval this week. According to the proposal, permanent residents of Canada will be required to stay at least four full years within a period of six years (instead of three of the four) and at least 183 days in each year. The language requirements (English / French proficiency) would be more rigorous, immigrants ages 14-64 would be subject to language tests (vs. 18-54), and the citizenship test would be comprehensive and more rigorous.
Immigration fraud would be subject to heavier punishment - raised to up to five years in prison and up to one thousand dollars.
The law, if approved by Parliament, will allow Canada to revoke the citizenship of those with dual citizenship who were convicted of terrorism, treason and espionage. Conversely, Canadian army veterans would be put on a fast track for the immigration process.
On May 5, Shimon Fogel, chairman of the Jewish lobby in Canada (CIJA), spoke to the Standing Committee of the House of Commons in Ottawa about the C-24 bill.
Fogel noted at the beginning remarks that Canadian citizenship is the most desirable in the world, due to its balanced package of rights and obligations, based on values that are designed to ensure dignity, freedom and equality for all. He reminded the hearing that immigration is intertwined with Canadian history, a lesson that the Jews know well, in his words.
Immigrants are a source of economic and cultural power of Canada, Fogel said, adding that many of those who chose to settle in Canada accept the values of the local society and they know the meaning of living in a country lacking such values.
He described immigrants as "patriots" are proud that shape the character of the state, and estimated that the reform of the citizenship law - if done well - will benefit the entire Canadian public. To support this, Fogel warned that there are also other non-Canadian citizens who do not appreciate the privilege given to them, and they reject Canadian values and abuse the trust that underlies the social contract.
Fogel expressed support for the proposed changes in the C-24 bill, designed to strengthen the relationship between the citizens to Canada and its values, including raising the minimum requirements for citizenship (language, general knowledge, physical presence), explaining that these requirements will help the integration of migrants and reduce their marginalization in society - as well as the import of anti-Semitic values.
One of the important issues in this context, Fogel said, is the mission statement of immigrants to settle in Canada and subscribe to the Pledge of Allegiance. According to him, the bill's clear mission statement is to prevent the emigration of those who seek to take advantage of Canada's generosity to get citizenship, but in practice do not really intend to live there or contribute to society.
The Chairman of the Jewish lobby supported the amendment , which allows the government to revoke the citizenship of immigrants who gave incorrect information about the migration request intention to settle in Canada, as well as those who concealed information about involvement in human rights violations.
Immigration continues to be a heated topic in Canada, where the question of Muslim immigration and the import of Islamic values has given rise to a debate on rights and multiculturalism.
One such public debate in the Globe and Mail centered on whether Islam as a religion actively threatens the West, and whether there is a definitive link between violent behavior and Islamic immigration.