We will thus achieve a new status of "Canadian citizen" which will be an inclusive and definitive status. At the same time, I want to emphasize and make clear that this will not remove from anyone who now has it, nor eliminate for persons born or naturalized in future, the status of British subject. A Canadian who is now a British subject will under this act continue to be a British subject. A person who is hereafter born a Canadian citizen will thereby also be a British subject. An alien who comes to Canada and is naturalized as a Canadian citizen will similarly become a British subject. The change will be in removing the confusion of conflicting and unrelated definitions that we now have. So far as Canada is concerned the dominant fact will be that of being a Canadian citizen. With it, as a correlative, and important in the commonwealth as a whole, each will also have the status of British subject.
Without going into the details of the bill, there are a few important aspects that it seems desirable to mention. I have said that in general substance, the bill is a broad revision of the Naturalization Act done in terms of Canadian citizenship. It first of all defines who are Canadian citizens by birth. It next sets forth the qualifications for naturalization as a Canadian citizen, and these again are essentially the same as those now m force. There is one additional difference, however, that should be noted. In future, non-Canadian British subjects will be required to take out papers before becoming Canadian citizens. This may appear to be a fundamental change, but it is a change more in procedure than in substance. At present a non-Canadian British subject has no right of entry into Canada, and he does not become a "Canadian citizen" under the Immigration Act until he has had domicile here for five years. In essence all that is now being required is that in future the change of status to Canadian citizenship shall be marked by the acquisition of formal papers. It is felt that this will be a decided advantage to the individuals concerned, as it will give greater certainty and security to their position for purposes of diplomatic protection abroad and of immigration entry when they come to our borders.
I might say that the war has shown the importance of having basic documents for prima facie proof of national status. There have been thousands of cases where persons abroad have appealed to our representatives or to the protecting power for aid on the ground that they were Canadians. Persons born in Canada have been able to produce
birth certificates, thus supplying a basis for proof. Others naturalized in Canada have been able to produce naturalization certificates. But persons who came to Canada from other parts of the commonwealth have had nothing whatever to show that they 'had become Canadian citizens and were the responsibility of the Canadian government. In peace time there have been similar cases of confusion, difficulty and real hardship. For this reason, it is important to provide papers for non-Canadian British subjects who become Canadian citizens.
On the subject of naturalization I might mention one change that is important throughout the bill. In the past, "married women" have been classed with minors, lunatics, and idiots as persons under a disability. They could not become naturalized or control their national status as independent persons except in very special circumstances. The government looks upon this as an anachronism that has no place to-day and all disabilities for married women have been eliminated in the present bill.
With regard to loss of Canadian citizenship, the conditions are the same as those at present for the loss of the status of British subject- with one addition. That addition is the insertion of a provision for automatic loss of citizenship by a naturalized person who stays out of Canada for six years or more, unless he comes within one of the specified classes or takes steps to protect his citizenship. The provision does not apply to naturalized persons who have served in our armed forces. In addition there are exceptions for naturalized persons who are abroad in the service of Canada, or for a Canadian corporation or business concern, or to go to university, or for reasons of ill health, and so forth. Hitherto there has been a provision for revocation of British subject status if a naturalized person has been absent for seven years. However, it is impossible to keep track of persons who are absent so as to know how long they have been away, and many whose naturalization should have been revoked have remained British subjects. In this war we have had such persons crop up; for example, Germans naturalized in Canada who returned to Germany in 1933 or 1934, whose absence was not known, and who now claim protection and benefits as Canadians. In many cases there is every reason to suspect that a great number of these people were ardent nazis and complete Germans during the war, .however Canadian they may now profess to feel. In future, with the passage of this bill, this will not happen. If such people are absent from Canada for six years or more and do not protect their
citizenship and are not in the excepted classes, they will automatically cease to be Canadians. Before concluding, there are two sections of the bill which I should like to mention particularly. Both are new; neither introduces any change in substantive law; yet I think they may be of considerable significance to people who become naturalized in Canada. One section authorizes the Secretary of State, with the approval of the governor in council, to take measures-
-to provide facilities to enable applicants for certificates of citizenship to receive instruction in the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship.
The other provides that the courts, in conducting naturalization proceedings-
-shall, by appropriate ceremonies, impress upon applicants the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship.
I think that hitherto we have not paid sufficient attention to these matters. In many cases people have become naturalized without having any real consciousness of the fact that they were taking a very significant, step, and sometimes without a true understanding of the obligations incurred. Apart from the purely legal consequences of acquiring a new citizenship, we must remember that in a democracy there are obligations and responsibilities upon a citizen, and these should be carefully explained, it is thought, to those who join us, and they should be fully impressed with the nature of the undertaking. They should also foe given some understanding, in a helpful and cooperative way, of how government in Canada works, and of the great traditions of constitutional liberty and even justice that are the root and source of our individual liberty. We are too apt to take these things for granted, even after a frightful war that has shown us they must be cherished and fought for bitterly if they are to'be preserved; and we should take care that every new citizen becomes a doughty champion of the democratic way of life.
Closely related to this, and yet distinct, is the desirability of making every new citizen feel that he is truly becoming part of Canada. Our "new Canadians" bring to this country much that is rich and good, and in Canada they find a new way of life and new hope for the future. They should all be made to feel that they, like the rest of us, are Canadians, citizens of a great country, guardians of proud traditions and trustees of all that is best in life for generations of Canadians yet to be. For the national unity of Canada and for the future and greatness of this country it is felt to be of the utmost importance that all of us, new Canadians or old, have a consciousness of a common purpose and common inter-47696
ests as Canadians; that all of us be able to say with pride and say with meaning: "I am a Canadian citizen."