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Updated: Mon, 03 Feb 2014 19:21:19 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Canadian citizenship bill to be tabled Thursday



Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will table a bill to reform the Citizenship Act this Thursday, the prime minister confirmed today in a post on Twitter. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander will table a bill to reform the Citizenship Act this Thursday, the prime minister confirmed today in a post on Twitter. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

The federal government will introduce legislation to overhaul its Citizenship Act on Thursday, the prime minister announced in a post on Twitter Monday.

In a weekly video roundup of government news called 24 Seven, Stephen Harper wrote "BREAKING: Chris Alexander will introduce Citizenship reforms this week."

Harper's tweet included a link to a 45-second video of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

"Canadians today take great pride in citizenship, they attach more value than ever. We're going to spell out some of the rules that will ensure that it has that value," Alexander said.

As reported by CBC News last month, Alexander will introduce sweeping changes to Canada's citizenship rules in what the government is calling "the first comprehensive reform to the Citizenship Act in more than a generation​."

The more controversial changes include new rules that would allow the government to strip dual nationals of their citizenship in "extreme cases," such as in cases of "treason" or "acts of terrorism."

"We need to be able to take citizenship away from dual nationals in extreme cases, where they've crossed a line that I think all Canadians will agree are grounds for that kind of move," Alexander told CBC News on Jan. 23.

The new rules will also look to right a wrong and give Canadian citizenship to "Lost Canadians" who had seen it denied from them for one reason or another over the years.

"Some are children of war brides, some have other complicated circumstances which should never have barred them from citizenship, and we have to fix the legislation," Alexander told CBC News.

Alexander said the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act would also aim to reduce the current backlog of applications and change the conditions for eligibility.

The government is also considering changes to tackle the problem of so-called "birth tourism" or "passport babies," but Alexander told CBC News they would not be included in this bill.

"I would expect action on that front this year, but not necessarily as soon as the Citizenship Act."

Both the NDP and Liberals told CBC News they are open to modernizing the Citizenship Act but are wary of some of the proposed changes.

In a separate announcement, Alexander said in a written statement Monday that the government will stop accepting sponsorship applications for parents and grandparents, as it has now received the maximum number of applications.

The government reopened the door to the parent and grandparent program on Jan. 2 by accepting 5,000 applications after it stopped accepting all submissions in 2011 to deal with a massive backlog.

"As Citizenship and Immigration Canada has now received 5,000 complete applications, new intake into the PGP program will again pause until next year," the statement said.

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