Canadian government teams with TV station to stage citizenship ceremony

A screen grab shows 10 'new' Canadians participating in a citizenship reaffirmation ceremony in this photo posted on the immigration department's Twitter feed. Six federal bureaucrats were drafted to pose as new Canadians for ceremony set up for the Sun TV network.


The Canadian Press

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney admitted his office handled a staged “reaffirmation” ceremony poorly as politicians, the network and bureaucrats each blamed one another for the deception.

Through freedom of information requests, The Canadian Press learned that Conservative government officials asked six employees to stand in front of Sun TV cameras and pose as new Canadians for the event.

“Ten new Canadians are taking their oath right now, here at our Sun News studio here in Toronto,” host Alex Pierson said.

They were “among 4,700 people who actually enjoy the special honor of becoming Canadians,” said her co-host, Pat Bolland.

The event happened last October during Citizenship Week. During that week, the federal government held 13 official ceremonies (including four in Toronto), but The Canadian Press said Kenney’s office wanted an event in the friendly confines of Sun TV.

Critics call Sun TV "Fox News North."

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Quebecor Media had just launched Sun TV earlier that year in hopes of catering to right-leaning and Conservative viewers.

When Immigration staff couldn’t guarantee 10 new Canadians would arrive at the TV studio, they found six employees to ensure there were enough people for the cameras (three had sworn the citizenship oath earlier that day).

A federal government employee suggested Sun TV film one of the four ceremonies in Toronto, but a network employee suggested staging the event anyway.
“Let’s do it. We can fake the Oath,” wrote the TV staffer in an email obtained by CP.

The minister’s office blamed an overworked bureaucrat for the lapse in judgment.

“The person who made the mistake is actually a really hard-working person . . . she just scrambled last second and got caught,” the official told the Toronto Star.

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