The Revised Canadian Citizenship Test: Easier or Harder?

By Author: Admin | August 30, 2010

Canadian citizenship is no doubt very valuable.  Canada’s immigration department is seeking to reinforce this fact by trying to teach the value and practice of Canadian citizenship, to enhance respect for Canadian democratic values, and to emphasize that citizenship in Canada involves both rights and responsibilities.  To this end, a new citizenship study guide was launched on November 12, 2009. The previous guide that it replaced had apparently not been significantly revised since 1995. The new guide has expanded content related to the knowledge requirement for citizenship by discussing Canadian history, values, institutions, etc., and is available on the Canadian government immigration website.

The current test for Canadian citizenship based on the new guide was revised on March 15, 2010 and is a twenty question, multiple choice exam but with a higher pass mark of 75% as opposed to the pass mark of 60% for the old Canadian citizenship test.  During a transition period of six months, applicants can take the test a second time if they are unsuccessful.

I have only had one client who failed the citizenship test.  This client was an active business person, who flew back into Canada just for the purpose of writing the citizenship test.  However, he failed to use the study booklet which provides answers to all of the questions posed on the citizenship exam, and as a result, he failed the test.  He hired me to go to the Federal Court to appeal against the citizenship refusal.  However, his answers were too far off from the correct ones to follow through at the Federal Court.

 Where's Omar Khadr?

A Visual Representation of Omar Khadr

The power and prestige of Canadian citizenship can in some instances be muted depending on the holder of that citizenship.  For example, Omar Khadr, yet to be convicted of anything, is the last Western citizen being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  Credible reports indicate that he was tortured by the US government or its agents,yet the Canadian government is not interested making any effort to repatriate him despite his Canadian citizenship.   Convicted Canadian money launderer Brenda Martin, by contrast, was visited by top level Canadian politicians while serving time in Mexico and was able to use her Canadian citizenship to serve the rest of her criminal sentence in Canada, as opposed to Mexico.

The immigration department of Canada shall consider how the citizenship revocation process can be improved where citizenship has been acquired fraudulently.   This would ensure the integrity of Canada’s citizenship process.  In the past, only one person has ever been stripped of their Canadian citizenship. In addition Canada’s immigration department is in discussion with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) about the measures and ability to prosecute people committing fraud under IRPA. My discussion of these measures can be seen here.

There is no sign of any legal requirement of renounce the citizenship of another country, even if you are aspiring to political office in Canada. However, perhaps under political pressure, Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s current governor general decided to voluntarily renounce her French citizenship prior to her appointment.  In contrast, John Turner possessed dual citizenship (Canadian and British) when he was briefly Canada’s prime minister in 1984 with no complaints about his loyalty to Canada.  Perhaps dual citizenship is tolerated when the countries in question ostensibly have similar political values.

By contrast, there could be a legitimate concern about high ranking US government officials holding Israeli citizenship, namely, whether official American interests in the Middle East such as peace and stability can be served given the dual Israeli and American citizenship.  This could be an argument in favour of a requirement for aspiring applicants for Canadian citizenship to renounce the citizenship of their country of origin, particularly if they hold high government positions in Canada.


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I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario Canada. I am an accomplished author and lecturer and am consulted by the media and other immigration lawyers and consultants on immigration matters and challenging immigration cases, appeals, and federal court matters.

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