INAN - Scope of Proposed Changes to the Oath - Jan 28, 2021
Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is a Government priority.
This proposed change to the Oath of Citizenship is aimed at advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action number 94 within the broader reconciliation framework.
While some targeted consultations were held, consultations on broader changes were not undertaken as this could have diverted the conversation away from our priority of reconciliation.
We are aware of previous failed attempts to change the Oath of Citizenship.
Reconciliation is a Government priority, and this proposed amendment reflects this commitment. The focus of the Government’s efforts in Bill C-8 is to amend the Oath of Citizenship to respond meaningfully to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action number 94.
This is why the title and summary of Bill C-8, like the former Bill C‑6, was expanded and a preamble was added – to be clear that the change is intended to specifically respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation to include a solemn promise to respect Aboriginal and Treaty rights in the Oath.
Regarding allegiance to the Queen
In Canada, we pledge allegiance to the Queen as a reflection of our system of government, which is a constitutional monarchy. When we take the Oath of Citizenship, we make a solemn promise to follow the laws of Canada and to perform our duties as citizens. In return for that allegiance, the Canadian state — represented by the Crown — guarantees to protect our rights and freedoms.
Canada was created by an act of the British parliament and we inherited their democratic traditions, which include the monarchy as head of state. The King or Queen of the United Kingdom is also the head of state of Canada, and acts through their representative—in Canada, the Governor General, as selected by the Canadian government.
Regarding lack of reference to other specific rights and values
The Oath is meant to be said aloud by new Canadians at citizenship ceremonies. It is therefore important to keep the language as clear as possible.
The Oath references Canada’s laws, which in turn reflect the rights, responsibilities and values guaranteed by those laws.
The Oath has been subject to several previous failed attempts at modification in order to highlight various democratic Canadian values.
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.
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