EDITORIAL – Taking oath of citizenship deserves ceremony, not an online form

(Image: Immigration News Canada)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

BECOMING A CANADIAN citizen should be a time not just to make it official but to join with other new Canadians in celebration.

In a room, not Zoom. And not just by signing an online attestation without even the presence of a witness or a citizenship judge.

Zoom ceremonies have been common since COVID but they do their best to replicate traditional in-person ceremonies.

The federal government, however, is talking about permanent changes that would eliminate the requirement for attendance at a formal ceremony whether online or in person. Becoming a Canadian would be just another bureaucratic requirement, like getting a driver’s licence.

Even if it’s only an option, it’s just not a good idea. I’ve attended quite a number of citizenship ceremonies in the past and they are a joyful occasion. Getting your citizenship is a big deal. There’s a lovely sense of comradery and pride in the room as the oath is taken and it becomes real.

Although designed to make everyone feel at ease, citizenship gatherings include a certain amount of pomp with the ceremony, befitting the occasion.

The Ottawa bureaucrats who have come up with the silly idea of turning it into a sterile online exercise offer the excuses that people have trouble getting off work to attend, and that simplifying it into an online form will speed things up.

Taking a couple hours off work for a citizenship ceremony isn’t like getting time off for the doctor or the dentist. It’s a turning point in one’s life, one that should create memories.

If time is really an issue, move the ceremonies to evenings or weekends. Citizenship judges, RCMP and local dignitaries can easily make the adjustment to accommodate.

Online citizenship — via gatherings on Zoom — can remain an option for times when there’s a backlog but, please, don’t cheapen this solemn milestone by making it into just another form to fill out.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 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 EDITORIAL – Taking oath of citizenship deserves ceremony, not an online form

  1. Quite a few years ago the federal government decided that Kelowna would be the only city in the Interior where citizenship ceremonies would be held. When my wife became a citizen a number of years ago, we had to make the trek down there. It wasn’t too bad for us, coming from just outside Kamloops, but others at the ceremony had come from Nelson and Cranbrook and Prince George, this so as not to inconvenience the federal government employees whose attendance was required. Things have gotten worse it seems. Currently, citizenship ceremonies are scheduled only in Burnaby and Surrey.

    The tail that is the federal bureaucracy is wagging the dog that is the all of the other residents of Canada.

  2. Sheila Park // March 9, 2023 at 8:23 AM // Reply

    Dear Mel,
    In the spring of 1959 a gentleman came to our home on the Canadian Air Force Base in Sydney NS. My mom, dad, sister and I were sworn in as Canadian Citizens that evening.
    My father was a member in the Canadian Air Force. He had joined when we immigrated from England in June of 1952.
    He had been transferred to Metz, France. The RCAF powers that be had decided our family should be Canadian Citizens before we sailed to Europe.
    I still have the green 8 1/2 by 11 Citizenship paper I signed when I was 10.
    I do not believe not having a formal ceremony made any one of my family members less of a Canadian. Committed to our second country and committed to be engaged in giving back to our country and community.

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