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HomeCanadaBreaking:: Citizens' Views on Citizenship Oath Divides Opinions: Is Flexibility a Necessity...

Breaking:: Citizens’ Views on Citizenship Oath Divides Opinions: Is Flexibility a Necessity or a “Disgrace”?


Allowing new Canadians to take the Oath of Citizenship by clicking a box online is either a disgusting idea that will shorten the process and open the door to fraud – or a forward-thinking idea that will help clear a backlog of citizenship applications work, depending on who you are asking.

This is evident from the hundreds of responses the federal government received about the idea in recent months.

In February, the Liberals asked the public to weigh in on their plan to have people forgo a formal in-person or online ceremony and instead take the Oath of Citizenship with the click of a mouse.

Immigration Secretary Sean Fraser presented the concept as a way to quickly clear a backlog of people waiting to take their oath and become Canadians. It is expected to save people about a three-month wait between taking their citizenship test and officially becoming a Canadian.

The 691 comments submitted reveal deeply divided opinions about what would be a fundamental change in the way new Canadians pledge allegiance to king and country. Names were removed from comments before being posted online.

“This is a TERRIBLE idea!” one person wrote in response to the proposed regulation.

“This proposal takes what should be one of the most meaningful things a person will ever do in their life, equal to ordering a new pair of underwear from Amazon.”

Several comments suggested the change would be more like online shopping than a solemn, life-changing ceremony.

Sean Fraser, Secretary of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, stands during Question Time on February 9, 2023 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Some called it disgusting, a disgrace, or a mockery.

Others saw the one-click option as a way to give people much-needed flexibility and security, especially for those who live in remote communities or can’t afford to take time off from work.

“This is a progressive, progressive and truly commendable initiative and should be implemented as soon as possible,” one person wrote.

“It would help to increase the number of citizenship acquisitions, particularly by individuals in the Indigenous and racial minority communities, as these communities have disproportionately low incomes and less flexibility to schedule a day off to take the oath during a traditional ceremony.”

Rise of video conference ceremonies

During the pandemic shutdown, new Canadians began taking their citizenship oaths via virtual zoom, presided over by a citizenship judge or official.

Even after the government resumed in-person ceremonies, the majority of new Canadians have been instructed to take their oaths online as a way to get more people through the system quickly.

According to government data provided to parliament, in the second half of 2022 less than 10 percent of citizenship ceremonies took place in person and the vast majority took place via videoconferencing.

Several people take the oath of citizenship during a video conference call.
A virtual citizenship oath ceremony will take place in 2021. (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)

The government does not track how many people asked for an in-person ceremony and did not receive one, but said it expected that if the change went ahead, fewer people would choose to attend a ceremony and fewer ceremonies in the general.

The new proposal would take virtual ceremonies a step further, eliminating the need for a judge or official to preside over a ceremony and allowing new citizens to take their oaths with a single click of the mouse.

“While I’m certainly excited about the idea of ​​having an in-person ceremony, I’d rather choose the faster option at the cost of delayed citizenship,” one person wrote.

Others pointed out that longer waiting times could delay the delivery of new Canadian passports needed to travel.

“I loved my ceremony and the opportunity to celebrate the occasion, but it was tight getting my new passport to travel when I needed it, so the opportunity to reduce wait times is great,” said one person.

“I have heard of many people who have suffered because they had to wait a long time for their passports,” said another.

Worry about fraud

Critics said government backlogs and a lack of available in-person ceremonies were bad reasons for endangering the time-honoured tradition.

“The goal should be to handle the backlog by providing more ceremony options, rather than diminishing the experience by making it a self-managed click,” one wrote.

Others are still concerned about the possibility of fraud, although the government plans to use a secure web portal for the one-click oaths.

If approved, the changes to the citizenship rules would take effect as early as this month at a cost of approximately $5 million over 10 years.

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