Halifax Chronicle Herald: ‘Lost Canadian’ widens action in citizenship case

VANCOUVER — Canadian citizenship laws may need to be overhauled if a so-called “lost Canadian” wins her legal battle.

Jackie Scott, 68, was refused citizenship although she came to Canada with her British mother and Canadian father at two. A judicial review of that refusal was set for July, but Scott put it on hold so she and her lawyers could broaden the court action.

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Documents filed Friday in Federal Court in Vancouver show Scott is petitioning for “declarations” from the court that could have serious ramifications for Canadian citizenship, including whether Parliament has total control over who is considered Canadian.

Scott said even though she would have loved to settle her own citizenship dispute back in July, her fight has become about much more than herself.

“It would be very selfish of me just to say it’s about me, because it’s not,” she said Monday. “If we’re successful we can finally resolve the issue for many people.”

Scott was born in England in 1945 to a Canadian serviceman and a British woman and later migrated to Canada.

Ottawa claims Scott’s father was legally considered a British subject because Canada’s first citizenship act did not come into effect until 1947. The government argued in previous court documents related to Scott’s case that “Canadian citizenship is a creation of federal statute. In order to become a Canadian citizen, a person must satisfy the applicable statutory requirements.”

But Scott and her lawyers argue citizenship has existed outside statutory law since long before 1947. They are willing to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In July, they debated pursuing a class action but decided the application they filed last week was more suitable.

“The declaratory order will have the same force and effect legally,” James Straith, one of Scott’s lawyers, said via email.

It will “bind the federal government and resolve most, if not all, of these lost Canadian cases.”

The application asks for Scott’s judicial review to be “converted to an action” that would allow the court to make declarations regarding six main questions, including whether Scott’s father was a Canadian citizen and whether citizenship exists as a legal concept and/or right independent of the 1947 Citizenship Act.

“Enough of this nonsense. We want to set precedent,” said Don Chapman, the founder of the Lost Canadians. Chapman said too many people are forced to pursue a lengthy court process because Parliament has not properly addressed gaps in citizenship law.

Chapman estimates there may be thousands of people like Scott, but adds no one knows for sure.
“The entire area of citizenship is a disaster that has now evolved into a catastrophe,” said Straith, referring to statements in May by the Federal Court. chief justice.

Chief Justice Paul S. Crampton wrote in a court judgment involving a woman from China that “this case is yet another example of why something needs to be done to address the unacceptable state of affairs concerning the test for citizenship in this country.”