Elections, holidays and other timing considerations for citizenship ceremonies

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

When planning a citizenship ceremony, citizenship officials must review and use the following instructions.

House of Commons calendar

Offices are encouraged to consult the House of Commons calendar when planning citizenship ceremonies to ensure, when practical and operationally feasible, that some ceremonies are planned during parliamentary break weeks so that the member of Parliament (MP) in the riding has the opportunity to participate.

This is particularly important in planning ceremonies in remote areas of Canada (regional itinerant services/temporary offices) where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials do not often travel.

Ceremonies during election periods

Campaign activities are incompatible with the function and purpose of a citizenship ceremony. The policies below apply until the newly elected government is sworn into office.

Federal elections

Elected officials

To ensure non-partisan delivery of citizenship ceremonies, once a federal election is called (writ period), the following individuals are not to be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony or participate in one as special guests or speakers:

  • elected officials (incumbents);
  • individuals seeking nomination;
  • individuals who have publicly indicated their intention to run;
  • individuals who are running in an upcoming election;
  • representatives of elected officials.

They may, however, attend a ceremony in the same capacity as any other audience member. Refer to the “When an incumbent member or a political candidate has been invited to or attends a ceremony” section for instructions on what to do if a federal incumbent or political candidate attends a ceremony during this period.

Note: A federal election does not preclude a provincial, territorial, or municipal elected official from attending and participating, if they so desire.

Federal referendums

When a federal referendum is called and until the voting for the referendum is closed, no elected officials at the federal level are to be invited to participate in a citizenship ceremony. Provincial, territorial, or municipal elected officials may be permitted to attend and participate depending on the nature of the referendum question. In these situations, contact National Headquarters (NHQ) for guidance.

Additional rules for citizenship ceremonies during federal elections

During a federal election period,

  • members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) can be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony or participate in one but must receive approval from their CAF chain of command before accepting an invitation to participate in the ceremony;
  • veterans (former members of the CAF who successfully underwent basic training and were released with an honourable discharge) can participate in ceremonies;
  • hosts and partners can continue to plan a citizenship ceremony; however, they should not actively promote the ceremony and should inform the local citizenship office staff any special guest invitations;
  • hosts and partners may not issue a media advisory or a news release for upcoming ceremonies; media are welcome to attend but should not be sent invitations;
  • hosts and partners who are active on social media should be reminded that posts about citizenship ceremonies are to be low-key (factual, not promotional), and any reference to the current government should be avoided;
  • the list of new citizens in each electoral district will not be sent to MPs’ offices until after the election;
  • reaffirmation certificates can continue to be distributed;
  • the following items are not to be distributed:
    • the congratulatory letter from the Prime Minister,
    • the message from the IRCC Minister (insert),
    • volunteer certificates signed by the IRCC Minister.

Provincial and territorial elections

Elected officials

To ensure non-partisan delivery of citizenship ceremonies, once a provincial or territorial election is called (writ period), the following individuals are not to be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony or participate in one as special guests or speakers:

  • elected officials (incumbents);
  • individuals seeking nomination;
  • individuals who have publicly indicated their intention to run;
  • individuals who are running in an upcoming election;
  • representatives of elected officials.

They may, however, attend a ceremony in the same capacity as any other audience member. Refer to “When an incumbent member or a political candidate has been invited to or attends a ceremony” section for instructions on what to do if a provincial or territorial incumbent or political candidate attends a ceremony during this period.

Note: A provincial or territorial election does not preclude a federal or municipal elected official from attending and participating, if they so desire.

Provincial and territorial referendums

When a provincial or territorial referendum is called and until the voting for the referendum is closed, no elected officials at the provincial or territorial level are to be invited to participate in a citizenship ceremony in the province or territory where the referendum is being held. Federal and municipal elected officials may be permitted to attend and participate depending on the nature of the referendum question. In these situations, contact NHQ for guidance.

Municipal elections

Elected officials

Municipal elected officials can include a mayor, city councillor, school board trustee/commissioner/chair and, in some areas, a deputy mayor, reeve, park commissioner and prefect post.

To ensure non-partisan delivery of a citizenship ceremony, once a municipal election is called (campaign period), AND the ceremony is 30 days, or less, prior to the municipal election the following individuals are not to be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony or participate in one as special guests or speakers:

  • those seeking nomination;
  • those who have publicly indicated their intention to run;
  • those who are running in an upcoming election;
  • representatives of elected officials.

They may, however, attend a ceremony in the same capacity as any other audience member. Refer to the “When an incumbent member or a political candidate has been invited to or attends a ceremony” section for instructions on what to do if a municipal incumbent or political candidate attends a ceremony during this period.

Notes

  • A non-elected municipal employee (who is not representing an elected official) could attend a ceremony and give greetings on behalf of the municipality, as any other community speaker, provided that their remarks are non-partisan.
  • An elected member of the municipality (i.e., mayor or councillor) that is not seeking nomination, has not publicly indicated their intention to run, or is not running in an upcoming election can participate in ceremonies as they are not representing a political party.
  • Municipal officials who are invited to speak before the 30-day blackout period and who are in a campaign period should be reminded that any remarks provided during the ceremony must be non-partisan and must not reference the current campaign/upcoming elections. Secondly, if mingling with the new citizens during the reception, they can introduce themselves as the current mayor or councillor, if applicable, but must make no mention of the current campaign/upcoming elections.
  • When there is very public and active campaigning by an incumbent member or political candidate prior to the blackout period and offices have concerns, they should contact NHQ. Some situations may preclude someone from participating in a citizenship ceremony.
  • A municipal election does not preclude a federal, provincial, or territorial elected official from attending and participating, if they so desire.

Municipal referendums

When a municipal referendum is called and until the voting for the referendum is closed, no elected officials at the municipal level are to be invited to participate in a citizenship ceremony in the municipality where the referendum is being held. Federal, provincial, or territorial elected officials may be permitted to attend and participate depending on the nature of the referendum question. In these situations, contact NHQ for guidance.

When an incumbent member or a political candidate has been invited to or attends a ceremony

It is the responsibility of local offices to confirm whether a guest has been nominated, has publicly indicated their intention to run, or is running in an upcoming election.

In the event that invitations have been sent out before the election announcement, local citizenship staff will contact the affected invited guests and advise that, due to the election, although they can attend the ceremony as an audience member, their participation as special guests or speakers is no longer permitted. Campaign activities before, during or after the ceremony are not permitted.
Note: Refer to the above section for specific guidance for municipal elections.

During an election period, if incumbent members or political candidates attend a citizenship ceremony, the clerk of the ceremony must explain privately to them that they will not be introduced, included as a platform guest, and allowed to speak; the clerk must also explain to them that they are not to introduce themselves as political candidates when talking to new citizens.
Note: Refer to the above section for specific guidance for municipal elections.

Distribution of election materials

New Canadians are encouraged to exercise their voting right. Therefore, general election materials (e.g., voter registration and identification requirements) can be distributed at citizenship ceremonies. See the Voting materials for new citizens section for more information and guidelines.

Statutory holidays, weekends and holy days

If the ceremony is being held on a statutory holiday (e.g., Canada Day), outside normal business hours, or on a weekend, the availability of public transit and open parking lots will have to be checked. Citizenship staff should keep cultural sensitivities in mind. For instance, members of some religious groups may not wish to attend a ceremony or a reception on a holy day for their religion. Every citizenship office should have a calendar available with all major religious holidays marked on it. See Religious and cultural considerations.

In the event that applicants are unable to attend a ceremony, citizenship staff should reschedule applicants for a new event that is as close as possible to the date of the original ceremony.

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