Canada’s immigration minister has been discussing the possibility of a controversial change to how new Canadians would take their oath of citizenship by replacing an in-person or virtual ceremony with the click of a mouse. 

 Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that the department is considering the change, which he believes to be a good idea.

In February, the government posted questions regarding how to optimize the procedure to their website to get feedback from Canadians.

No implementation date has been announced, however, initially the change was thought to occur by June 2023. 

“You don’t want to take these moments lightly, but we do need technological options,” said Miller before entering Question Period on Monday. “The department has been criticized, rightly, for not being adjusted to the 21st century and that option is one I think that we should preserve.”

Miller claims people living in remote areas and rural communities would benefit from this change, which would relieve them of their commute in order to swear their oath. 

If implemented, the change is estimated to cut down processing time for people by up to three months, according to documents from government consultants. 

The idea was originally pitched as a temporary measure by former immigration minister Sean Fraser to act as a catalyst for the severely backlogged citizenship waiting list.

The government consultation which surveyed Canadians’ thoughts on the change yielded mixed responses. Some thought it to be an appropriate approach for the times, while others felt it diminished the value of the in-person ceremony. 

Those responses will “inform the next steps and the development of implementation plans,” according to a statement released by the department on Monday. 

“I’ve heard from Canadians and advocates of the importance of actually being in person. I’ve also seen the importance of virtually, when there’s no question about someone’s loyalty or citizenship or oath or the seriousness he should take Canadian citizenship,” said Miller. “It’s about keeping the options open in the 21st century.”

Miller said that he has himself administered the oath three times since he took the position earlier this summer, following the Liberal’s cabinet shuffle and that he feels that preserving in-person ceremonies as an option is “paramount.”

“We have to obviously preserve those,” said Miller, who expects that in-person oaths will become even less prominent if the one-click option is implemented, which means less ceremonies in general. 

The Conservative party claims that the one-click option will “cheapen” the reverence of the citizenship oath and have vowed to oppose it. 

On Monday, Conservative immigration critic Tom Kmiec released a statement that accused the Trudeau government of wanting to “reduce it all to a click on a website or an app as if citizenship were no more than consenting to terms in a contract.”

“The Trudeau Liberals are abandoning this special tradition and reducing our citizens to a bureaucratic number,” wrote Kmiec. 

The practice of immigrants pledging their allegiance to Canada via virtual ceremony was introduced during the pandemic, however the practice has remained in place ever since.

As of July 23, there were 68,287 new Canadians still waiting to take their oaths either in-person or virtually to become citizens, according to the National Post