May 5, 2006
OTTAWA: The House of Commons tonight voted unanimously to speed the process for restoring citizenship to so-called "Lost Canadians," children who lost Canadian citizenship between 1947 and 1977 when one or both of their parents became citizens of another country.
The new law will allow Lost Canadians who immigrate to Canada to apply for restored citizenship without waiting a year, as currently required.
The surprise vote on bill S-2 represented a stunning setback for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which vigorously opposed the bill through several sessions of Parliament. The department said it feared that some of the former Canadians might have become criminals or terrorists since their parents gave up Canadian citizenship.
Several turbulent days of sometimes intense, behind-the-scenes lobbying and infighting preceded the vote and at one point threatened to spill onto the House floor. Instead, the House passed the bill without debate or a dissenting vote.
"It's about time we welcome these people home," said the bill's sponsor, MP John Reynolds, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, the Conservative citizenship and immigration critic.
"Tonight the House corrected a mistake that should have been fixed more than 25 years ago," said Liberal Andrew Telegdi, chairman of the House Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. "I am extremely pleased with the outcome."
Reynolds and Telegdi both credited several former Canadians with pushing the issue onto the national agenda: Don Chapman, a commercial airline pilot who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and Gibsons, BC; Charles Bosdet, a business consultant now living in Cape Breton, NS, and Magali Castro-Gyr, a former school teacher now residing in France.