Citizenship Commission – Office of the Senior Citizenship Judge

2008-2009 Annual Report


Table of Content


The Citizenship Commission

Letter to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration
and Multiculturalism
The Honourable, Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P.

The Honourable Jason Kenney
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
365 Laurier Avenue West
21st Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1

Dear Minister Kenney:

I am pleased to submit to you the Annual Report of the Citizenship Commission for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.

This Annual Report provides a summary of the context in which the Commission operated in 2008–2009, the initiatives that were undertaken, and the objectives we have established for 2009–2010.

Having been appointed as Senior Citizenship Judge on October 6, 2008, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work undertaken in the 2008‑2009 fiscal year by my predecessor Michel C. Simard in his role as Senior Citizenship Judge from August 2003 to August 2008.

Yours sincerely,

George Springate
Senior Citizenship Judge

II. Message from the Senior Citizenship Judge

I am pleased to confirm that the Citizenship Commission has made progress and innovations in several areas over the 2008‑2009 fiscal year.

We are continuing to aim at consistency in decision-making, a process that has been ongoing for a number of years.

However, this past year has been marked by a substantial change in the training of Citizenship judges. Indeed, this was my priority. As a career teacher, I set out to improve the training process as detailed in the Operating Context – Training and Professional Development.

In the past a robing ceremony for a newly appointed judge was held in Ottawa. I changed this. Today, a judge takes his/her oath of office in Ottawa. However, to properly present and introduce the judge to CIC workers in his/her home base and, most importantly, to allow relatives and friends to attend this momentous occasion in a judge’s life, all robbing ceremonies, with the senior judge in attendance, occur in the city where the judge has been stationed. This initiative has proven to be exceptionally well received.

It should be noted the annual meeting was not held this year due to lack of funding.

My priority is to maintain the vision of the Citizenship Commission. Consistency, accountability, excellence and a constant independence of decision-making across Canada remain our benchmark. We continue to resolve Canadian citizenship matters – our core business – efficiently and fairly, in accordance with the law and circumstances, while maintaining our core values such as honesty, integrity, compassion and professionalism.

The Citizenship Commission has a highly responsible and accountable group of judges. They all possess impressive skills and dedication. Moreover, they work as a unified team.

I wish to thank and express my sincere appreciation and praise for the judges’ contributions, both individually and collectively.

Mr. Minister, I am proud to say that all of the judges in the Citizenship Commission have performed their assigned tasks in every area of their activities with distinction and grace.

George Springate

III. Complement of Citizenship Judges

On April 1st, 2008 there were 34 Judges: 21 full-time; 13 part-time. There were 8 vacancies in Mississauga, Scarborough, Regina and Surrey.

By March 31st 2009, the numbers had decreased to 25 Judges: 16 full-time; 9 part-time. There were 17 vacancies in Montreal, Mississauga, Scarborough, Toronto, Etobicoke, Winnipeg, Regina, Surrey and Vancouver.

Ten Judges left the Commission when their terms ended and Judge Springate succeeded to Judge Simard as Senior Judge on October 6th, 2008 leaving one vacancy in Montreal.

Listed below are the Judges who served on the Commission during the 2008‑2009 fiscal year.

Halifax, (Atlantic Region)
Judge Linda Carvery (Part-time)

Québec, Québec
Judge Alain Gariepy

Montréal, Québec
Judge Alain Michel Ayache
Judge Gordana Caricevic-Rakovich
* Judge Barbara Seal
* Judge George Springate

Ottawa, Ontario
* Senior Judge Michel C. Simard
Judge Suzanne Pinel (Part-time)
Judge Brian Coburn
Judge Thanh Hai Ngo

Mississauga, Ontario
* Judge M. Saleem Akhtar
Judge Renata Brum Bozzi
Judge Kris Mohan (Part-time)
Judge Mina Yung-Fung

Scarborough, Ontario
Judge Normand A. Allaire
Judge Philip M. Gaynor
Judge John K.S. Koulouras (Part-time)

Toronto (St. Clair) Ontario
* Judge Sarkis Assadourian
* Judge Agnes U. Potts
Judge Patricia Phenix
Judge Raminder Gill

Etobicoke, Ontario
* Judge Ann L. Northcote

London, Ontario
Judge Russell Monteith (Part-time)

Hamilton, Ontario
Judge Robert M. Morrow (Part-time)

Windsor, Ontario
Judge B. Gail Degroot (Part-time)

Winnipeg, Manitoba
* Judge Arthur K. Miki
Judge Harold Gilleshammer (Part-time)

Calgary, Alberta
Judge Raymond Charles Lee
Judge Joan May Way
Judge Joy Dirks

Edmonton, Alberta
Judge Sonia Bitar

Vancouver, British Columbia
* Judge William Day
* Judge Sandra Wilking
* Judge Brenda Brown
* Judge Shinder P.S. Purewal

Victoria, British Columbia
Judge George Gibault (Part-time)

* Indicates Judges who have left before the 31st of March 2009

IV. Overview

Mandate

The Citizenship Commission is an administrative tribunal within Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada (CIMC). The Commission consists of all Citizenship Judges working across Canada. Its mandate derives from the responsibilities conferred upon those Judges by the Citizenship Act and the Citizenship Regulations. Judges review approximately 180,000 citizenship applications each year.

Citizenship Judges are responsible for the following:

  • determining whether citizenship applicants meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act and the Citizenship Regulations;
  • administering the oath of citizenship and highlighting the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship;
  • working to maintain the integrity of the citizenship process; and
  • promoting citizenship by working with school boards, service clubs, multicultural groups and other community organizations.
The Act specifies four types of citizenship applications: grant of citizenship S. 5(1); retention S. 8, renunciation S. 9(1); and resumption S. 11(1). The majority of applications are decided by Judges on the basis of a file review. However, when a Judge determines that more information is required to make a decision, the applicant is invited to attend a hearing before that Judge.

Senior Citizenship Judge

The Commission is headed by the Senior Citizenship Judge who is appointed by the Governor in Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister. His appointment is made on a full-time basis for a five year term.

Reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism, the Senior Judge is responsible for ensuring that Judges perform their statutory and administrative duties under the Citizenship Act and is the liaison between Judges, the Minister and CIMC representatives on citizenship issues. The Senior Judge also acts as a spokesperson for the Commission, and manages the administrative and professional services that the Commission provides to Judges.

In addition to performing the regular duties of a Citizenship Judge, the Senior Judge is assigned the following additional duties by the Minister pursuant to Section 26 (2) of the Citizenship Act:

  • Coordinate the activities of the Judges in the exercise of their quasi-judicial decision making functions.
  • Collaborate with the Minister and departmental officials in order to facilitate the administration of the Citizenship Act with regard to the quasi-judicial and ceremonial functions performed by Judges and in matters relating to the promotion of citizenship.
  • Provide training for newly appointed Judges and ongoing professional development for all Judges.
  • Foster collegiality and consistency among Judges by providing guidance, leading discussion, encouraging dialogue, preparing guidelines and information bulletins.
  • Respond to and manage complaints concerning the professional conduct of Judges.
  • Consult with responsible government authorities on all matters relating to conflict of interest and taking necessary measures to ensure compliance with conflict of interest rules applicable to Judges.
  • Manage staff in the Senior Judge’s Office, including developing the Commission’s business plan and administering the salary and operational budget.

Citizenship Judges

Appointment Process

Judges are appointed by the Governor in Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister. Appointments may be made on a full-time or part-time basis usually for a three year term. The appointee may be reappointed to the same position at the discretion of the Governor in Council.

Their status as GIC appointees affords Judges the independence they need to exercise their decision-making function free from outside influence. However, Specific statutes and guidelines govern the conduct and actions of the Citizenship Judges as GIC appointees while in office:

  • The Conflict of Interest Act establishes conflict of interest and post-employment compliance measures.
  • The Ethical Guidelines for Public Office Holders outline four ethical principles that must be adhered to.
  • The Guidelines for the Political Activities of Public Office Holders are based on the general principle that public office holders should not participate in any political activity which might impair, or be seen to impair, their ability to discharge their duties in a politically impartial manner or cast doubt on the integrity or impartiality of the office.
Compliance with these Guidelines is a term and condition of appointment. Before appointment, a Citizenship Judge shall certify that he or she will comply with these guidelines.

Decision Making Authority

Judges are, first and foremost, quasi-judicial decision makers. Only Judges have the authority to make decisions on citizenship applications. The Act does not allow CIMC, or even the Minister, to exercise this power. While the Act gives Judges the power to decide on all four types of citizenship applications, for administrative efficiency, decisions on applications to retain and renounce and resume citizenship are made by the Senior Judge.

Accountability

Although Judges are not accountable to the Senior Judge, CIMC or even the Minister for the decisions they render, this does not mean that they have no accountability. Their decisions can be appealed to the Federal Court of Canada, by the applicant or by the Minister. Federal Court decisions help clarify the issues that Judges consider and also provide them with direction in interpreting the law.

Knowledge and Training

To perform their quasi-judicial duties, Judges must understand the principles of administrative law and natural justice, the Citizenship Act and the Citizenship Regulations, relevant case law, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Criminal Code.

During this fiscal year the training process has been completely revised by the Senior Citizenship Judge. As detailed in the Operating Context – Training and Professional Development, a newly appointed judge now follows an initial, comprehensive, four-tier schooling programme. When this is completed, the judge is twinned with a more experienced judge who, in reality, becomes the new judge’s mentor.

All judges participate in ongoing training activities – such as the three-day session that was held in February 2009 – to further develop their skills.

The senior judge also travels to the judges’ administrative centers to sit in on, and evaluate their hearings and citizenship ceremonies and discuss ways to improve a judge’s performance if necessary.

Within the on-going training program are weekly language courses that non-fully bilingual judges take at their home base. These courses are popular.

Roles and Responsibilities

While Judges spend approximately 90% of their time performing their decision-making role, the public is much more aware of their ceremonial and ambassadorial roles.

Judges preside over citizenship ceremonies, during which they have the honour and privilege of welcoming new citizens into the Canadian family. It is at these ceremonies that Judges administer the Oath of Citizenship and speak to new citizens about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. More importantly, it is here and at promotional events in the community that Judges pass on their pride, enthusiasm and respect for the institution of Canadian citizenship.

The stature of the position stems in part from the fact that the three functions of the role are mutually supportive. The authority of the quasi-judicial function, the prominence of the ceremonial function and the commitment to Canada demonstrated in the promotion activities enhance one another and strengthen the office as a result.

Commission Standing Committees

The Commission operates two standing committees, the Legislation and Operations Standing Committee and the Standing Committee on Citizenship Promotion and Education. These were established to address both the operational and promotional requirements of the Commission.

Standing Committee on Legislation and Operations

As its name indicates the Committee deals with the legislative and operational challenges of the Commission, to ensure that best practices contribute to the overall integrity and efficiency of the citizenship process. The purpose of this Committee is to address legislative and operational challenges of the Commission and to ensure the sharing of best practices that contribute to the overall integrity and efficiency of the citizenship process.

These main business activities (within the context of the Commission and its relationship with citizenship stakeholders) are:

  • increasing integrity, consistency, coherence and efficiency in the delivery of citizenship services to clients across the country by identifying and implementing best practices;
  • increasing an understanding of the role and responsibilities of all people responsible for delivering the citizenship program;
  • finding workable solutions to issues raised with consideration of program integrity, operational needs and service delivery to clients;
  • making recommendations of mutual interest at the appropriate level when necessary.

Standing Committee on Citizenship Promotion

The purpose of this Committee is to address the promotional challenges of the Commission in the areas of communications, marketing and outreach initiatives that advance the importance of citizenship and its inherent responsibilities to stakeholders.

These activities include:

  • supporting the development of promotional opportunities that align with the national promotional objectives;
  • acting as a facilitator in organizing the steps necessary to plan and conduct promotional activities in various regions across Canada;
  • exploring opportunities to collaborate with portfolio partners in joint ventures where Judges can promote active citizenship;
  • coordinating the development of various tools required to conduct outreach activities.

Relationship with CIMC

CIMC is the Commission’s primary partner. In addition to managing the process in which Judges perform their duties, the Department provides the Commission with administrative, financial and human resources services as part of the citizenship judge program. CIMC is a party to the decision-making process by virtue of the right of appeal and the authority to grant citizenship, which it exercises on behalf of the Minister. While the Commission and CIMC work closely at both the local and the national levels, they maintain an arm’s length relationship on decision-making matters in order to ensure the independence of Judges.

V. Operating Context

The Environment

The 2008–2009 fiscal year can be described as a year in which the Commission increased its profile within CIMC as a valuable source of information and expert advice on the citizenship program. We hope that our Judges will continue to be invited to provide their input and contribute to the Department’s initiatives to articulate what a vision of citizenship means and the policies and tools required to achieve our goals.

The Commission’s priority remains to ensure that the complement of Judges is sufficient to meet the operational requirements in each local office and to ensure that well-reasoned decisions are rendered in a timely fashion and in accordance with the law. This is essential to deal fairly and equitably with citizenship applicants wherever they may be.

In April 2008 the complement of Judges was 34: 21 full-time and 13 part-time. There were 8 vacancies in Mississauga, Scarborough, Regina and Surrey. On March 31st, 2009, our complement had decreased to 25 Judges: 16 full-time and 9 part-time. There were 17 vacancies in Montreal, Mississauga, Scarborough, Toronto, Etobicoke, Winnipeg, Regina, Surrey and Vancouver.

Many vacancies remain. This has forced the Commission to send judges to, for example, Vancouver, Surrey, Regina, Saskatoon and New Brunswick. This is costly and takes judges away from work in their home base. The Commission will strongly urge the Government to address this important operational requirement. Delays in appointments impact the productivity of local offices, since Judges have sole authority to approve applications.

Mentorship Program

Two years ago, a program was initiated in which a former citizenship judge traveled across Canada to observe and appraise both experienced and newly appointed judges in their decision-making and ceremonial duties. This program was amended in October 2008. The senior judge now performs these duties.

The senior judge works with all the judges on a regular basis to help them improve their performance and he also offers additional training, where needed. 

Training and Professional Development

Orientation Training

 The Senior Judge has redesigned the orientation training program entirely. The intensive training sessions are delivered by experienced Citizenship Judges and a former Citizenship Judge with presentations by CIMC operations, policy and legal staff. New Judges are introduced to the legal requirements of citizenship, their decision-making role and their promotion role as ambassadors of Canadian citizenship. The effectiveness of the redesigned training program is evaluated following each session and further refinements are made on an ongoing basis.

In the past, a newly appointed judge received a one-week training session. Updates and refresher courses at the annual meeting held in the fall completed the training. On the rare occasion, when immediate re-training or essential new information had to be transmitted to judges, an additional one-day session was also held.

The one-week session was eliminated. In its place is now a four – tier program:

  1. A newly appointed judge is given a comprehensive binder containing the history of Canadian Citizenship, case law and jurisprudence and an overview of what a judge should know. The judge is required to complete a questionnaire that ensures he/she understands the material. This questionnaire is reviewed by the senior judge.
  2. On his/her nomination, the judge shadows seasoned judges in the field. The newly appointed judge is given the opportunity to job shadow with an experienced judge. The new judge observes his/her colleague in ceremonies, and with the consent of the applicant, sits in on language, knowledge, and prohibition and residency hearings.
  3. Job shadowing is followed by an initial three-day schooling session, where the emphasis is placed on the principles of natural justice, administrative law, the language and knowledge requirements, and the prohibitions. He/she then returns to his/her home base and for a month conducts hearings dealing solely with what he/she was taught in the preliminary training stage. The judge can also preside at Canadian citizenship ceremonies
  4. After four more weeks, the judge attends a second, three-day schooling session dedicated solely to the aspect of residence. This session includes how to detect potential fraudulent applications. This allows the judge to conduct hearings on complex residence hearings.

Furthermore, an experienced judge is assigned to work with the newly appointed judge to assist him/her in settling into his/her new position and workload. This is relatively simple when the judge’s home base has other assigned judges. However, eight of our judges work in cities where he/she is the sole judge. Communication with these judges and their assigned experienced judge is done by telephone and email.

Within the continued training programme, all the Citizenship Judges participated to training sessions organized by the Citizenship Commission in February 2009 in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. These sessions included a complete overview of the training and an update on new jurisprudence. As well, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made a three-hour presentation concerning the growing problem of fraud in the Canadian citizenship application process.

The Commission would like to express its appreciation to CIMC for its on-going support of our training courses. CIMC representatives deliver presentations which both clarify and highlight key elements of the citizenship process and the respective roles and responsibilities of local CIMC staff and Judges.

Second Language Training

Within the on-going training program are weekly language courses that non-fully bilingual judges take at their home base. These courses are popular. They allow a judge to improve his/her language skills. The goal is not to ensure that all judges become fluently bilingual in French and English. Rather, the aim is to increase the use of both of Canada’s official languages during citizenship ceremonies.

Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting is the sole opportunity for Judges to meet as a group and provides an excellent forum for training and professional development. However, due to lack of funding, the annual meeting was not held during this fiscal year.

Reorganization of the Office of the Senior Judge

The Commission was successful in retaining the increase in operational funding obtained in the previous fiscal year. In October 2007, funding was approved to staff the position of Senior Advisor on a permanent basis. The Senior Advisor provides in house expertise and program and policy advice to assist the Senior Judge.

The staffing of the Supervisor, Administrative Services position in December 2007, increased our capacity to maintain accurate financial records and reports on budget administration.

The position of Administrative Assistant has been staffed during this fiscal year.

Promotional Activities

The Commission was successful in retaining the increase in operational funding obtained in the previous fiscal year. In October 2007, funding was approved to staff the position of Senior Advisor on a permanent basis. The Senior Advisor provides in house expertise and program and policy advice to assist the Senior Judge.

The staffing of the Supervisor, Administrative Services position in December 2007, increased our capacity to maintain accurate financial records and reports on budget administration.

The position of Administrative Assistant has been staffed during this fiscal year.

Event Total Number Attendance Average Attendance
On special citizenship ceremonies 160 26,471 165
Off-site special citizenship ceremonies 2 200 100
Reaffirmation ceremonies 16 3,099 194
Speaking events 51 11,790 231
Media 371 N/A N/A
TOTAL 600    

The statistics provided are based solely on the activities of the Judges who submitted promotion records to our office and therefore, do not reflect all promotion activities undertaken by the Commission. The Senior Judge’s Office will continue to impress upon Judges the importance of submitting reports on a regular basis in order to provide an accurate account of promotion work undertaken by the Commission.

Enhanced Ceremonies

The statistics provided are based solely on the activities of the Judges who submitted promotion records to our office and therefore, do not reflect all promotion activities undertaken by the Commission. The Senior Judge’s Office will continue to impress upon Judges the importance of submitting reports on a regular basis in order to provide an accurate account of promotion work undertaken by the Commission.

Citizenship Week 2008

The statistics provided are based solely on the activities of the Judges who submitted promotion records to our office and therefore, do not reflect all promotion activities undertaken by the Commission. The Senior Judge’s Office will continue to impress upon Judges the importance of submitting reports on a regular basis in order to provide an accurate account of promotion work undertaken by the Commission.

VI. Year 2008-2009 in numbers

The statistics provided are based solely on the activities of the Judges who submitted promotion records to our office and therefore, do not reflect all promotion activities undertaken by the Commission. The Senior Judge’s Office will continue to impress upon Judges the importance of submitting reports on a regular basis in order to provide an accurate account of promotion work undertaken by the Commission.

1. Summary of Citizenship Activities – 2008-2009

Total citizenship grant applications received 240,960
Total citizenship grant applications processed 174,059
Number of new citizens 173,067
Number of unsuccessful applications: 3,924
Number of applications withdrawn or abandoned 465
Ceremonies conducted 2,543
Average processing time (in months) 15

* Processing time should be read as 80% of grant applications completed within X number of months or less

2. New Citizens and Regional Distribution

Region Number
Atlantic 1,566
Quebec 30,663
Ontario 88,485
Prairies/NWT 25,462
British Columbia/Yukon 26,625
New Citizens Total 173,067

3. Top Ten Source Countries of Birth of New Citizens

Country Number of New Citizens Percentage
1. China 19,907 12%
2. India 19,635 11%
3. Philippines 11,207 6%
4. Pakistan 8,850 5%
5. South Korea 4,805 3%
6. Iran 4,788 3%
7. Colombia 4,702 3%
8. Romania 4,674 3%
9. United States of America 3,987 2%
10. Sri Lanka 3,731 2%

Note: The top ten source countries represent 50% of all new citizens.

4. Citizenship Commission Activities

There was a decrease in the complement of Judges from 34 in April 2008 to 25 in March 2009. The full-time appointments decreased from 20 in the previous fiscal year to 16 in 2008-2009. The part-time appointments decreased from 13 in the previous fiscal year to 9 in 2008-2009. Our complement of 25 Judges (16 full time and 9 part-time) performed the work of 21 full-time equivalents (FTE).

The productivity of the full complement of Judges and the average output per FTE is presented in the following charts.

Activity National Total Average Output per FTE
Grant Applications
Applications received (CPC-Sydney) 240,960  
Applications processed (CPC-Sydney) 174,059 8,288
Applications approved 173,976 8,284
Applications not approved 3,869 184
Applications withdrawn or abandoned 444 21
Ceremonies completed 2,543 121
Citizenship Hearings
Hearings conducted 12,866 613
Retention, Renunciation and Resumption
Resumption
Applications received 135  
Applications approved 50  
Applications not approved 1  
Retention
Applications received 634  
Applications approved 284  
Applications not approved 20  
Renunciation
Applications received 142  
Applications approved 123  
Applications not approved 1  
5(3) Waiver
Waiver recommended 376  
Waiver granted 352  
Waiver not granted 24  
5(4) Waiver
Waiver recommended 101  

Appeals to Federal Court (Applicant)
Appeals lodged 49
Appeals consent order (Crown lost) 6
Appeals granted (Crown lost) 10
Appeals denied (Crown won) 24
Appeals withdrawn by applicant (Crown won) 9
Appeals to Federal Court (Minister)
Appeals lodged 28
Appeals consent order (Crown won) 20
Appeals granted (Crown won) 0
Appeals denied (Crown lost) 3
Appeals withdrawn (Crown lost) 5
Judicial Review – Mandamus
Cases filed 3
Cases consent order Crown lost) 1
Cases granted  (Crown lost) 0
Cases denied (Crown won) 1
Cases withdrawn (Crown won) 1
Judicial Review – Certiorari
Cases filed 7
Cases consent order (Crown lost) 1
Cases granted  (Crown lost) 1
Cases denied (Crown won) 3
Cases withdrawn (Crown won) 2
Civil Action
Cases filed 1
Cases consent order( Crown lost) 1
Cases granted  (Crown lost) 0
Cases denied (Crown won) 0
Cases withdrawn (Crown won) 0
Revocation
Cases filed 4
Cases consent order(Crown lost) 0
Cases granted  (Crown won) 3
Cases denied (Crown lost) 0
Cases withdrawn (Crown lost) 1

VII. Objectives for 2009-2010

During the next fiscal year, we will face new challenges. The Commission will work hand-in-hand with the Department to draft a new guide that will be given to all Canadian citizenship applicants to assist them in learning about Canada and to help prepare them for the knowledge examination they will write.

Judges will also be heavily involved in the discussions leading to the new series of questions that applicants will be asked in the knowledge tests. They will further be directly involved in assisting the Department to work towards a comprehensive testing of all Canadian citizenship applicants to ensure they meet the language requirements of the Act.

Let us end on a truly exciting note. Encounters with Canada, a youth group that brings some 135 teenagers to Ottawa about 30 weeks a year, requested that the Commission participate in their weekly activities. We have agreed to do so in a two-tier manner. First, the senior judge will kick off the week with a 45-minute address at 8 a.m. every Monday. Second, every Thursday morning Judge Suzanne Pinel will speak about Canadian citizenship and conduct a re-affirmation ceremony.

Date Modified: