Tribute to the Honourable Victor Oh

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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East and West block of Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Brian Francis: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to Senator Victor Oh. Today we celebrate a remarkable man known for his kindness and friendship to all who know him. Victor has devoted a lot of his time and energy not only to helping newcomers settle, integrate and prosper, but also to raising greater awareness and understanding about the culture, history and contributions of people of Asian descent and other backgrounds.

In addition, Victor has been a voice for non-citizen children and youth. For example, in 2017 Victor introduced a successful amendment to the Citizenship Act to allow permanent residents under the age of 18 to apply for citizenship separately from their parents or guardians.

Having no option but to wait until they were 18 years old or obtaining a rare ministerial waiver, such minors were previously left without access to citizenship and, in some cases, risked removal in adulthood. His amendment guaranteed equitable access to citizenship for children and youth whose parents were unwilling or unable to apply at the same time.

In the end, Victor secured 47 votes in favour of his amendment from colleagues on all sides of the aisle. He has always been good at bringing people together.

Following Royal Assent in June 2017, Victor also successfully called on the federal government to update the related regulations since children or youth who applied with their parents or guardians were required to pay a processing fee of $100, while those who did so separately were charged $530.

All of this happened before my appointment. However, one of my current staff members, Jean, worked with Victor for a few years and closely supported his work on this amendment. She shared that a few months later the two of them attended a ceremony in Mississauga, where they met a group of siblings who had gained citizenship due to his successful amendment. It was an incredibly touching and unforgettable moment for both of them.

These contributions stand as a testament to Victor and his unwavering commitment and compassion. He championed the rights of vulnerable children and youth, and has had a lasting and positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands in Canada who are now full and permanent members of this country.

Victor, you should be immensely proud of this legacy. Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you and your family all the best and I hope that our paths cross again, maybe on a golf course in P.E.I. Thank you.

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