Toronto Sun: Our 'lost' Canadians

Click here to read article in the Toronto Sun

16th November 2009

You could call them the last of the lost Canadians -- 81 people who slipped through the cracks when Canada's new citizenship laws came into effect in April and acknowledged that hundreds (if not thousands) had been denied their Canadian birthright.

It was vindication for Canadian-born Don Chapman, a commercial airline pilot in the U.S. who's fought for years to have his Canadian citizenship acknowledged and led the battle for other lost Canadians that has now mostly been won.


As a kid after the Second World War, Chapman lost his Canadian citizenship when his father moved to the U.S. and took out U.S. citizenship. In those days, children took the father's nationality. Wives and mothers were chattel.

Chapman's great-grandfather was a Father of Confederation, his dad was a colonel in the Canadian army in the Second World War, his family trust has donated millions to Canadian universities. This record made it difficult to deny Chapman's Canadian roots.

During last month's citizenship week, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney proclaimed: "No matter where you came from ... Canadian history becomes your history and Canadian values your values ... such as rule of law and equality of men and women."

Noble words that ignored the 81 Canadians being denied citizenship. They fall in three categories: The age 28 rule; gender discrimination; out-of-wedlock cases.

A Canadian born outside of Canada after Feb. 14, 1977 to second-generation Canadian parents must apply to retain citizenship before his/her 28th birthday or lose citizenship. Chapman says 63 Mennonites were unaware of this ruling and have forfeited citizenship, despite appeals to the present federal government which ignores them.

Others also are penalized. In September, Allen Ussher tried to get his passport renewed and was told since he hadn't applied for citizenship before his 28th birthday he was now stateless -- a violation of international law as he has no other nationality. The little-known age 28 rule is grotesquely unfair.

Bad luck

Prior to the 1947 Citizenship Act, Canadian women who married foreigners lost their Canadian citizenship as did their children.

Subsequent changes restored citizenship to women, but not their children unless they were born out of wedlock. So-called illegitimate children took the mother's nationality, legitimate kids, their father's.

In February, Second World War vet Guy Valliere died a rejected Canadian because his Canadian mother married an American and he was born in wedlock.

Had he been born out of wedlock, he'd have died a Canadian. Marcel Gelinas, 87, and Arch Ford had the bad luck to be born in wedlock and have also been denied citizenship.

James McClelland, born before the 1947 Citizenship Act to a Canadian mother and American father, is not considered Canadian, but his young brother and sister, born after 1947, are both viewed as Canadian.

The government ignores Federal and Supreme Court rulings in citizenship cases and also ignores the UN Convention that a person "cannot be deprived of nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless."

Former Tory MP John Reynolds says the rejection of "still lost Canadians" could be rectified "with the stroke of a pen."

But no one picks up the pen.

Click here to read the article in the Toronto Sun