Lost Canadians protest Bill C-37

The Regina Leader Post
By Thomas Jolicoeur, Canwest News Service March 11, 2009

Don ChapmanA bill to amend the Citizenship Act on April 17 was heavily criticized Tuesday from a group known as the Lost Canadians who argue it is discriminatory and holds glaring omissions that will potentially leave stateless many who believe Canada to be their home.

Don Chapman, an advocate for the group, told a news conference on Parliament Hill the problem is not with the legislation as it is written, but with the way bureaucrats intend to interpret it. He believes that bill could easily be modified with "a very small stroke of the pen and a different interpretation by the bureaucracy."

The Lost Canadians are people who unjustly lost or never received Canadian citizenship, usually without their knowledge, due to previous regulations.

They are mainly 30,000 war brides who came back from the Second World War war with Canadian servicemen, their children, along with about 100,000 children of families who immigrated to the U.S.

Though the current bill aims to correct this, claiming 95 per cent of Lost Canadians will have citizenship granted or restored, an issue still exists with second-generation children born outside Canada not being granted citizenship.

The main issue, Chapman says, is that men and women have been treated differently in the past when it comes to citizenship. While that problem seems to have improved, he is concerned that the bill does not do enough to cover old issues that will affect coming generations.

Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who appeared with Champman at the news conference, accused Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney of "sticking his head in the sand" and said the bill needs to be scrapped because it contains problems. In response, Alykhan Velshi, communications director for Kenney, pointed out that Karygiannis voted for Bill C-37.

As for Chapman's concerns that the new legislation will create more Lost Canadians, Velshi said it is premature to speculate how the bill will be interpreted, as it has yet to come into effect, but that no changes will be made pertaining to that specific aspect of the bill.