New Citizenship Minister Faces 65 year old Problem That Won't Go Away War bride child fights for citizenship in Federal Court

Jackie Scott is the daughter of a British War Bride and a
Canadian Second World War veteran.

A Surrey, B.C. woman who arrived in Canada 65 years ago with her British war bride mother is fighting for her citizenship in the Federal Court of Canada. Because she was born before her parents’ marriage, she is excluded from citizenship by a technicality in Canada’s pre-1977 citizenship law.

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Jackie Scott was born in England in 1945 to a Canadian father and a British mother. She was born out of wedlock because her father, a Canadian soldier of the Second World War, could not get the required permission to marry. Such cases were common and inevitable under wartime conditions.

After the war, Ms Scott’s father was repatriated to Canada and demobilized. His daughter’s arrival in Canada was delayed because she required medical treatment in England. She arrived in Canada with her mother in 1948 and her parents were married in Toronto shortly afterwards. Under Ontario law, Ms Scott was legitimated from birth by her parents’ marriage, but she is still excluded from citizenship by the continuing application of a discriminatory provision of the 1946 Canadian Citizenship Act. Before 1977, children born abroad out of wedlock were citizens only if the mother was Canadian. Ms Scott has applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of her exclusion from citizenship.

The Lost Canadians group, which is supporting Ms Scott’s case, has unearthed two similar cases from 1948 and 1949 in which a child born abroad out of wedlock to parents who later married was ruled to be a natural-born Canadian citizen. The cases were discovered a year ago on a microfilm in the National Archives in Ottawa.

The late Tom Kent (1922-2011) served briefly in the 1960s as deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration. In 2009, asked to comment on a case similar to Ms Scott’s, he replied: “[E]xclusion from citizenship, in cases such as you describe, is entirely contrary to the philosophy of Canadian citizenship as I have always understood it. The people you know have not been treated fairly. The dismissive attitude of officials, as reported, should be unacceptable to the Minister”.

Ms Scott’s case will be heard on July 22 in the Federal Court in Vancouver. She is represented by James (Jay) Straith of Straith Litigation Chambers, West Vancouver. Copies of the documents filed in court by both sides are available on line at: