OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Six government employees were drafted to pose as new Canadians for a citizenship ceremony broadcast on a conservative news channel in Canada.
The immigration employees smiled and held Canadian flags as the Sun News network TV hosts referred to a group of 10 people as "new Canadians" who had finally received their citizenship.
Documents released under Access to Information legislation show a federal bureaucrat asked that six immigration department employees attend the October ceremony so that they could have the right numbers.
Candice Malcolm, a spokeswoman for Canada's immigration minister, blamed bureaucrats for the decision and said they made it without informing the minister's office or the network. Sun News host Alex Pierson said she was shocked.
According to the documents, a network employee suggested another scenario after an immigration employee sent Sun News a list of possible citizenship ceremonies to cover in Ontario.
"Let's do it. We can fake the Oath," reads an email from a Sun News address. The name was blacked out on the document.
Instead, immigration employees organized a simple reaffirmation ceremony instead, a legitimate event where citizens can restate their citizenship oath.
Staff in Toronto set out to find 10 new Canadians who would want to restate their oath at the Sun News studios on Oct. 18. But they had a hard time finding people. Only three showed up, but the show went on.
Citizenship Judge Aris Babikian mentioned more than once that the people were there to "reaffirm" their citizenship, but the Sun News Network hosts said they were becoming new Canadians.