INAN - Prior attempts to change the Oath of Citizenship - Jan 28, 2021
In addition to the recent introduction of bills aiming to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #94, between 1998 and 2009, there were nine different attempts to pass bills aimed to introduce changes to the Oath of Citizenship that were unrelated to the inclusion of any reference to Indigenous peoples (three Government bills and six Private Members’ or Senate Public bills).
The bills covered a variety of proposed changes generally aimed at reflecting democratic Canadian values, including: making reference to upholding democratic values, pledging allegiance to Canada and not the monarch, pledging allegiance to both Canada and the monarch, and pledging allegiance to the monarch but not her heirs and successors. All were dropped or died on the Order Paper.
- 1998 – Bill C-63 – did not pass through Parliament before it was prorogued. The oath was only slightly modified (included the phrase “to uphold our democratic values”)
- 1999 – Bill C-16 – same text as Bill C-63, died on the Order Paper at committee stage.
- 2001 – Bill C-391 – died on the Order Paper after first reading after prorogation. The oath contains reference to God and an affirmation that does not. Both texts have individuals pledging allegiance to Canada, and are silent on the monarchy.
- 2001 – Bill C-417 and Bill S-36 – both died on the Order Paper after first reading. The oath proposed was very similar to that proposed in Bill C-16, with a pledge to both Canada and the Queen.
- 2002 – Bill C-203 – re-introduction of previous Bill C-391, dropped from the Order Paper after second reading debate.
- 2002 – Bill C-18 – died on the Order Paper at the House Committee stage when Parliament was prorogued. The oath contained the same text as proposed in Bills C-16 and C-63 (Allegiance to the Queen of Canada, but not heirs and successors).
- 2008 – Bill S-231 – proposed an amendment to the Citizenship Act to use the notwithstanding clause (section 33) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent the courts from changing the text of or eliminating the requirement to take the oath. This this was done in response to the Roach court challenge begun in 1994 that claimed that swearing allegiance to a monarch is a Charter violation. In 2015 the Government was successful at the Ontario Court of Appeals and that leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied.
- 2009 – Bill S-225 – reintroduction of Bill S-231, died on the Order Paper after first reading.
Bills related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #94
- 2019 – Bill C-99 was introduced in Parliament on May 28, 2019, but died on the Order Paper before second reading when the 42nd Parliament was dissolved.
- 2020 – Bill C-6 was introduced in Parliament on February 18, 2020, but died on the Order Paper following second reading when the session of Parliament was prorogued on August 18, 2020.
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