McLEOD – It took a long time to add 19 words to the Oath of Citizenship

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

Excerpt from remarks in Parliament by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod on Nov. 2, 2020 during debate on amendments to the Citizenship Act.

IT IS INTERESTING to see that the oath has not changed in over 40 years. I was looking through the history of our oath. People have often looked at changing it over the years, and there were some very interesting oaths proposed in the early 1990s and 2000s. However, we have had the same oath for 40 years.

The oath is, as members know, the final legal requirement to become a citizen of Canada. I want to say quickly what the oath is currently, and then I will say what the proposed oath is. It is very simple. I was surprised at how short it was.

The current oath is:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and
Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil
my duties as a Canadian citizen.

There was a modification that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed. I understand that what we have in the legislation is not actually what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed, but is a modification made after consultation with indigenous groups and also immigration groups across the country. It will be interesting when this bill gets to committee.

The proposed oath is:

I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her
Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and
Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including
the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty
rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a
Canadian citizen.

Again, there has been some question as to some of the changes. The TRC just talked about the treaties. I have already noted that in British Columbia there are no treaties; however, there are certainly aboriginal rights, and there is a need to respect those rights.

From listening to the debate today, it sounds like there is general agreement in the House that the bill should move forward to committee and be further reflected upon. I think that is important.

With the time I have left, I want to talk a little more about the report. It was tabled almost six years ago. There were calls to action, and it has been six years. The day the report was tabled, the Prime Minister stood up in the House. At that time, he was the leader of the third party. He said that he would commit to implementing all the calls to action. As we know, in 2015, he became the Prime Minister. He again said that he would commit to implementing all the calls to action.

What we have here is 19 words added to an oath. There are many calls to action, and many are complex. If it has taken the Liberal government six years to add 19 words and, quite frankly, to get a relatively simple piece of legislation through the House, I really have to question the government’s commitment to moving forward in the way that the Prime Minister stood up and promised to do.


About Mel Rothenburger (9652 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on McLEOD – It took a long time to add 19 words to the Oath of Citizenship

  1. Lets be clear here.
    In 2015, when the TRC recommendations became known, the Conservative party was in power.
    Her party did nothing to table this recommendation.

    In 2016 we had a change in government, and this item was added to the Ministers Mandate.

    In early 2017 the proposed legislation was created. Later in 2017, this proposition went to extensive Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada focus groups to consult with immigrants and Indigenous partners, and exact recommendations were put forth regarding C-99. This process took over a year, as they normally do.

    In early 2019 the first reading was held in the House.

    At that time, conservative immigration critic Peter Kent argued that a promise in the existing citizenship oath — to observe Canada’s laws — encompasses treaty rights.

    “… I’m not sure that the specificity of including treaties, which are respected and which are among our body of laws, need to be specifically added,” Kent said.

    To be clear, this was the Conservative party suggesting that this change in Oath is not needed. A clear contrast to what Mcleod says today.

    In May 2019 McLeod herself said “Conservatives support treaty rights and reconciliation, but tabling a bill at the last minute and which is subsequently not likely to get passed, due to the fact that there are only a few sitting days left in this Parliament, is not the way to do it,”

    Again … stalling the bill and assuring it wouldn’t be efficiently passed by sittings end.
    This sitting was scheduled until the end of June, more than enough time to pass a bill that as Mcleod says today … was ‘generally supported in the House’.

    General support in the House, and firmly saying its not needed … are contradictory, yet your party stalled the vote until the sitting ended anyway. Begs the question; do conservatives truly have an issue with C-99?

    Conservatives have never recommended any alteration to the language of the Oath or C-99, which suggests they never really had a problem with either, yet here we are 4 years later and it is being tabled yet again. Mcleods letter today suggests that conservatives have no issue with it, in fact seem to be pushing for its passage.

    Now Mcleod is complaining about the timeline, and why C-99 has not been passed, when responsibility for the wait lands squarely on the Conservative parties penchant to politicise everything, as well as stall any Liberal bill as much as possible.

    Cathy … just support the bill.
    Not every single issue and bill in the house is a reason for political upheaval rhetoric, sometimes its just a simple updating to an Oath, that people want. This isn’t about you.

    Quit obfuscating, and get it done.

  2. “committee and be further reflected on”???? More delays, please get on with it!

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