Testimony of Guy Vallieres Before the Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

Guy Valliere died in February 2009 without having his citizenship recognized.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To hear the testimony in Audio format, click here, go to 15:08

Click here to read the original transcript from the Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, May 29, 2007

Ms. Michelle Vallière (As an Individual):
I am Michelle Vallière, [Guy Valliere's] daughter.


The Chair:

Ms. Michelle Vallière:
I can speak in English, but because I wrote down what he wanted to say, it would be better to speak in French, if you don't mind.

The Chair:
Of course, whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Ms. Michelle Vallière:
His name is Guy Vallière and he is Canadian by birth. He was born April 24, 1926, in Pointe St. Charles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is also American by birth. His father was François Xavier Vallière.


He was born in the United States, in Chicago, and no one told his grandfather to apply for Canadian citizenship. Let me read you his letter.

I lived and worked in Quebec until about 1969. I raised three lovely daughters who in turn produced 11 children and twelve grandchildren. I am a Quebecker. I even joined the military in Quebec during the last war, but when Hitler discovered that I was on the boat, he committed suicide, so I returned to Quebec along will all of the other Canadian soldiers.

Some hon. members: Ha! Ha!

Ms. Michelle Vallière: These are the facts that he wanted me to share with you.

I receive QPP and CPP benefits as well as CN pension benefits.

He began receiving that pension when he was living in the United States.

I am a Canadian and I must tell you that I worked in the United States for only 9 or 10 years in total.

He stopped working because he was too old.

I returned to my native country on October 20, 2006, only to be told that I no longer had citizenship status, despite the fact that I had every possible piece of ID imaginable, such as a SIN card, a Canadian birth certificate, the names of my brothers and sisters and my father's papers—in short everything that the Régie de l'assurance-maladie was requesting. Yet, I was denied coverage and asked to provide proof of my citizenship. I am at a loss to understand because during the 1980s, I lived in Quebec with my wife for three years, I believe, and I had a health insurance card. Why wasn't the card simply reissued to me? They firmly explained to me that a mistake had been made at the time and that the card should never have been issued to me in the first place. They said to me again that I needed to provide proof of my citizenship and that then, after a period of three months, I would receive a card. End of story. Officials refused to listen to anything else.

Today, I am old and all alone. I want to live with my family, but I have no rights. Immigration recommends some complicated procedure. Listen to this: they recommend that I apply for a passport, but my application will be rejected because I do not have a sponsor who...

So, forget about the idea of applying for a passport.

...they suggest that perhaps my daughter could sponsor me, but again, I do not measure up to the standards. Then they suggest I apply on humanitarian grounds, but for that, I would need to pay $500 which I would lose even if I am right and, if my application is accepted, I would be on the hook for another $400 or thereabouts. I have already paid immigration $75 to do its job, but without any luck.

I refuse to pay any money to prove my identity!

How do I feel about all of this: well, I feel like a nobody, worse than an immigrant or even a terrorist.

These are strong words, but that is how he feels. We were not aware of the situation, but here is what we just learned.

Because you see, immigrants and terrorists are issued a temporary health card. I am a Canadian and all I want is to live with my children.

I realize that I am no longer a young man, but I served my country, had a family, did my bit with CN to help the country expand. What is the problem?

You forgot...

Not you specifically, of course, because you have been very kind to receive us.

...to tell me when you passed this particular piece of legislation that I would lose my Canadian citizenship unless I applied for it. However, I am a Canadian. I was born here in 1926. I did not leave until the late 1960s and I returned around 1980 or 1982. I am sorry, but I do not recall the exact dates, because my memory is longer as good as it once was

Considering that I came back for good in 2006, I have spent a total of 45 years in this country. I am 81 years old, which means that I lived in the US for only 35 years. I celebrated my 81st birthday in 2007, and upon returning home, I am being told that I no longer exist, that I have lost my citizenship, that I have no status in this country.

It is totally ludicrous.

I cry every day and think about dying. My daughter tries to cheer me up by saying that I have to tough it out because she would have trouble burying me since I do not even exist.

That is how things are with my father. I cannot even allow himself to die, because I would have trouble burying him. It's silly, but that's how things stand.

It's enough to make you laugh, but I ask the ministers and members of Parliament: where is the humour in this situation?

I just want to be left in peace. I am the picture of health, apart from some speech impediments, the side effects of a serious stroke a few years ago. I may not be a boon to the Canadian economy, but I have paid my dues. Would you not agree with me? I only want some peace of mind. Why deny me that?

I am his daughter and this situation is a travesty. We are all Canadians. His brothers and sisters all had dual citizenship, but they did not receive a letter either informing them that they could lose their Canadian citizenship. Had they received such a letter, they would have taken the appropriate action.

My father returned to Canada at the age of 81 years, on short notice, for personal reasons. I had 48 hours to make the arrangements to bring him back. He no longer has any rights. The system makes no sense whatsoever. Thank heavens that I have a lot of support. He categorically refuses to put out any of his money to prove that he is a Canadian. The $75 he paid out of pocket was for his citizenship card. We thought that officials would do a bit of checking and that everything would work out, but that did not happen.

While in the United States, he was receiving his federal pension benefits, but these benefits were supposed to continue when he re-entered the country. He was entitled to these benefits. Believe me, he had to file a tax return. And yet, officials claim that he is not a Canadian citizen. Something is wrong with this picture. He should be receiving his benefits here, but because officials have just now realized that he has no status in this country, it is possible that his pension benefits may not be deposited into his account this month. Who knows. The system is very poorly conceived.

There is more. Obviously at his age, he does not want to travel. If I had to bring him to the hospital, he could be admitted on an emergency basis. However, by law, the doctors are not encouraged to treat him because he is uninsured and has no status as a Canadian citizen. I do not understand exactly how it works, but we need some kind of resolution to this situation because he does not fit in anywhere.

Thank you for your attention.


The Chair:
Thank you, Ms. Vallière, for your comments. I know it's a very emotional issue for you.