Commentary  No patience for fraudsters


I write to correct several inaccuracies in your recent editorial “Using citizenship as a weapon” (Commentary, February 17, page 23).

Your editorial ignored the fact that our government has welcomed the highest levels of sustained immigration in Canada’s history, and 1.4 million new citizens since 2006. It also ignored the fact that Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates in the world at 86 per cent.

Canadians are very proud of their citizenship, but they have no patience for fraudsters who try to game the system.

We have introduced reforms to help ensure that newcomers are strongly connected to Canada and, once eligible for citizenship, full citizens much faster than they are now. That said, we need to ensure that residency requirements are met and verified. Our proposed requirement that new citizens be physically present in Canada for four out of the six years before they take the oath is a year lower than in several other industrialized countries.

It is also important to note that Deepan Budlakoti is a convicted criminal who has never been a Canadian citizen – another fact your editorial ignored. Since 1947, children of foreign diplomats posted to Canada have not been eligible for automatic Canadian citizenship. That continues to be the case today. Canada also continues to uphold our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Canada has an extremely fair and generous immigration system, but fraud and other challenges exist – in Montreal and elsewhere. Those who abuse our nation’s generosity have no right to a grant of citizenship. Canada’s citizenship is not a right for all, it is a privilege. Canadians expect newcomers to play by the rules and follow our country’s laws, just like everyone else.

As Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister, I am concerned that you would characterize the punishing of extreme criminality, such as terrorism and espionage, as “xenophobic.” Your readers, at the very least, deserve the facts before they form an opinion on our proposed reforms.

Chris Alexander
Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister