The promised revision of the Canadian Citizenship Guide is still in the works, with only a few months left until the Liberal government fulfills its mandate.
This leaves newcomers as the main document to prepare for the citizenship test in the country with the existing guide, which is riddled with historical gaps and outdated information.
The government is revising the 68-page version Discover Canada Document last updated in 2012 to better reflect diversity and to include "more meaningful content" about the history and rights of indigenous people and experiences with residential schools.
Only five months before the federal elections, a spokesman for the Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that the launch date has not yet been set and there is no precise explanation for the delay.
"We are committed to ensuring that the Citizenship Guide is in place, and that includes consulting as many stakeholders as possible on the proposed changes, and this work is still ongoing," said Mathieu Genest. "We listen to experts, stakeholders and representatives of the community, because we want to take the policy out of the guide."
Janet Dench, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said it was "incomprehensible" that the introduction of the guide would take so long.
"Our main concern is to present a fair and balanced picture of Canada to newcomers, taking into account the problems in Canada and the current reality and highlighting the impact on indigenous and racialized people, if we do not give a clear picture of our country it is this. " A bad service for the whole country and for the newcomers, "she said.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had recommended revising the Newcomer Information Material and the Citizenship Test to reflect "a broader history of the various Aboriginal people in Canada, including information about the contracts and history of the residential schools."
Historical gaps, outdated information
Until the new guide is published, newcomers must use the existing guide to study for the naturalization test. It contains limited information on the heritage of residential schools, obsolete information on population figures and texts on the national anthem, which have since been amended by Parliament to make it more gender-neutral.
Jenny Kwan, the NDP's immigration critic, described the delay as "startling" and said it was unacceptable that the guide still contained false, outdated information.
"They want our newcomers to know the wording of our national anthem, and it's embarrassing to have that kind of misinformation in our guide to citizenship," she said.
Kwan said she was confused about the delay, as MEPs had been interviewed on this issue two years ago and an early draft had been leaked last year The Canadian press.
"I am sure that with the Citizenship Guide we can take the opportunity to ensure that new Canadians and newcomers understand our history, the good, the bad and the ugly, and understand … the history of Canada the aborigines, "she said. "I think it is very important to fully acknowledge this."
It was planned to publish the guide in 2017
A draft of the revised guideline of The Canadian press A reference to the illegal practice of female genital mutilation had been dropped. CP also reported that Liberals hoped to launch the 2017 New Guide to Canada's 150th Anniversary.
Last fall, CBC News reported that the updated Citizenship Guide would indeed include a warning to newcomers about female genital mutilation.
The matter was politically charged, and conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel repeatedly shouted at the subject. She also sponsored an e-petition in the House of Commons on this topic.
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman said the government believed the upgrade was easier than it turned out. He said that the Citizenship Guide reflects the priorities and values of the government that writes it, helping to define how people see the country.
Political inclination in focus
The previous conservative government has postponed the wording of the guide to military history and rights and responsibilities of citizenship, while the liberal government appears to be inclined to explain indigenous reconciliation and multiculturalism, Suleman said.
"Given the upcoming elections, there is likely to be a calculation on whether it pays off to issue a new guide that will inevitably make some people happy and others unhappy," he said.
Dory Jade, CEO of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants, said it would be better to take the time to do it right than speed it up for political reasons.
"Personally, I think the bureaucratic machine needs more time to do such a job, and the government did not foresee its promise," he said, noting that the Conservative government also took a long time to complete its upgrade ,
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the revision focused on several key areas:
- Responding to the call of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for a language that better reflects the perspectives and history of the indigenous peoples of Canada.
- Presentation of Canada's cultural diversity and commitment to the official languages.
- Presentation of the social development of civil rights and freedoms for LGBT, women and people with disabilities.
- Use a language that is more accessible to second language learners and structure the document so that the novice can more easily identify the main points of each chapter.
The government has also pledged to update information material for newcomers and change the citizenship oath to reflect respect for indigenous rights. This change of citizenship oath was also recommended by the TRC and included in Hussen's letter of 1 February 2017.
These initiatives are not yet completed, according to Hussen.