ARCHIVED – Speaking notes for The Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

At a News Conference Regarding Residence Fraud
Montreal, Quebec, December 9, 2011

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Good day and welcome. Earlier this fall, I celebrated my third anniversary as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

One of the great privileges of being in this job for a few years has been the opportunity to attend a fair number of Citizenship ceremonies across the country, and to meet and speak with many new Canadians in their first proud moments as citizens.

For those of us fortunate enough to have been born here, it’s sometimes too easy to take for granted the incalculable benefits that Canadian citizenship bestows upon its holders.

But I can tell you – as someone who attends quite a few more Citizenship Ceremonies than do most people - I have never met a single newcomer to Canada who fails to appreciate how precious and how meaningful it is to be a citizen of this free, democratic and diverse country.

Courageous, dedicated, and hard-working people come from all over the world to Canada. They make enormous personal and family sacrifices to obtain citizenship and to earn the opportunity to contribute to our society and our economy.

At the same time, Canadians receive new citizens with unsurpassed generosity. In proportion to our population, we welcome more newcomers than almost every other country in the world.

But that generosity is sometimes tested – and the value of Canadian citizenship can be debased – by those who try to put a price on being a citizen.

Canadian citizenship is not for sale.

Because it is so valuable, we need to guard against unscrupulous individuals who try to make a dishonest buck by skirting the rules and by helping others to lie and cheat their way into becoming citizens.

Crooked immigration consultants make money by helping permanent residents pretend to be residing in Canada while they in fact live abroad most, if not all, of the time.

They carry out this deception so that individuals with no intention of ever establishing roots in Canada can maintain their permanent residence status, and later apply for citizenship, fraudulently obtaining all of the significant benefits that Canadian citizenship confers.

Make no mistake:  There is ill-gotten money to be made in residence fraud. A family of five may pay upwards of $25,000 over four or more years to maintain the illusion of residence in Canada.

The Government of Canada takes the issue of fraud in immigration and citizenship very seriously, and we are continuing to take measures to pro-actively tackle the problem.

To do so, we will apply the full strength of Canadian law. Where evidence permits, we will seek the revocation of permanent residence status or citizenship - and in some cases the deportation - of anyone perpetrating such fraud.

Today, I am announcing that my department is now investigating more than 6,500 individuals from more than 100 countries for attempting to cheat Canada and Canadians.

This includes 2,100 people who have already obtained citizenship and 4,400 who have permanent residence status and may be in the process of applying for citizenship.

To date, of the 4,400 permanent residents who have been flagged, nearly 1,400 people have withdrawn or abandoned their citizenship application because of new scrutiny.

Our message is clear: If you want to become a Canadian citizen, you have to play by our rules. You have to respect our country. And you have to be honest. Canadian citizenship is not for sale.

My department is working with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canadian offices abroad to prevent those who are suspected of cheating our system.

The Government of Canada continues to take action against the activities of those unscrupulous consultants who facilitate residence fraud. Bill C-35 – introduced as the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act – received Royal Assent this past summer and has been in force for more than five months.

The Act imposes penalties on unauthorized representatives who provide, or offer to provide, advice or representation for a fee at any stage of an immigration application or proceeding.

I also encourage anyone who has information regarding citizenship fraud to report it to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s citizenship fraud tip line at 1-888-242-2100.

Tips may also be reported via email to Citizenship-fraud-tips@cic.gc.ca.

Other types of immigration fraud should be reported to the CBSA. Details are included in the news release accompanying this announcement.

Over the course of my time as Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I have met thousands of honest, hard-working immigrants to Canada.

To a person, they understand that Canadian citizenship is not a false flag of convenience to be waved whenever it serves one’s best interests.

Citizenship is priceless.

It is at the heart of our identity as Canadians.

It is something that generations of newcomers to this country have strived and have sacrificed to attain.

Protecting the value of Canadian citizenship is a core responsibility of the Government of Canada.

The Government will continue to take action against those who seek to demean that value.

I welcome any questions you may have.

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