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Commentary: Do we want a country of half-hearted passers-through?

Citizenship is the greatest gift a county can confer
MVT Chris-Nelson-mug
Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.

The greatest gift any country can confer is citizenship.

So why is it any surprise, given the ongoing ineptitude involving virtually every branch of our federal administration, that Canada is considering turning such a remarkable moment into something akin to tying your laces.

In fact, if a proposal by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is accepted, becoming a citizen will take even less time than needed to actually fasten you shoes. All it would entail is ticking an online box on a federal website. 

No longer would you swear a solemn oath before a judge alongside other assembled, proud, recent immigrants from across the globe. Nope, you can get it done during a commercial break while watching the hockey on TV. Won’t that feel oh-so special?

Maybe that’s how our current government sees this country. After all, Justin Trudeau’s administration has spent years apologizing for all sorts of perceived wrongs committed by Canada over the past century. It might therefore reckon becoming an actual citizen of such a dubious land shouldn’t be cause for public celebration.

Well, they’re wrong. So wrong they should hang their collective heads in shame.

Becoming a Canadian citizen, 38 years ago, remains a major highlight in my life: the poignancy of that day in Edmonton, following the required three years as a landed immigrant, remains a proud memory. It’s doubtful I’m alone.

Of course, given the recent track record of our federal government, this sad ‘tick-the-box-and-become-a-Canuck’ plan arises from yet another virtue-signalling boondoggle, one guaranteed to end in confusion and disarray once exposed to the light of day.

OK, according to the latest government figures there are 358,000 citizenship applications outstanding, with some of those folk waiting more than two years for a ceremony.

Why such a backlog? Well, in his usual preening manner, our prime minister announced immigration levels to Canada would be boosted to such an extent that by 2025 we’ll accept half a million newcomers a year. 

No doubt Trudeau gets some figurative gold star from the UN for this: yet that we can’t process such huge numbers remains an unmentionable and inconvenient truth.

Therefore, is it any wonder fewer and fewer immigrants even bother becoming citizens at all? According to Stats Can: in 2021 about 45 per cent of permanent residents in Canada for less than 10 years hadn’t taken citizenship. In 2001 it stood at a much lower 25 per cent.

This bodes badly. Come on, do we want a country of half-hearted passers-through?

So, why are more newcomers unwilling to commit to Canada? After all, they picked up sticks and came here in the first place – a huge, life-altering choice to make. 

Is Canada becoming simply a country of expediency? Or are those continuing assaults upon our good name and once-stellar reputation, from those supposedly representing us, eroding our national brand? 

Hey, do you really want to become a citizen of a country whose own prime minister agrees has practiced genocide? Add in the organizational chaos facing enthusiastic would-be Canadians resulting in years of delay and it becomes a toxic mix of disengagement.

The official response is promoting a ‘tick-the-online box’ solution.

Such crass make-do is shameful. This is the best country on the planet, populated by a diverse bunch of Homo sapiens, somehow finding joy under sunny skies, even if it’s minus 20.

This remains, as always, next year country: the horizon beckons and the past is exactly that: the past. Leave it at the entrance door.

It’s time the federal government realized becoming a Canadian citizen isn’t akin to finding some loose change down the sofa. It’s a remarkable gift to bestow and one that should be suitably celebrated.

Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.

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