Vancouver Sun: All just a big "misunderstanding" Citizenship battle finally ends, but tangled web of rules remain

The Vancouver Sun
By Daphne Bramham, The Vancouver Sun

Priscilla CorriePriscilla Corrie had a Canadian passport until 1999 when she didn’t apply for renewal. After her story of being denied a new passport appeared in the Vancouver Sun, Citizenship and Immigration officials told her it was all a big "misunderstanding" and she could have her passport immediately. Photograph by: Jeff Bassett, Special to The Vancouver Sun

Priscilla Corrie walked into the Kelowna passport office Wednesday morning and picked up all the forms she needs to get a citizenship card and then a passport. She even got to jump the queue.

"I felt like royalty," she told her daughter-in-law Bev Gosling as they walked out.

It was a small victory for the 87-year-old war bride and her family after two years of frustration.

Securing her travel documents shouldn't have been difficult, but it's been excruciatingly so. And because of it, Corrie missed the weddings of her two grandsons in Australia and the birth of her first great-grandchild.

Yet suddenly on Tuesday morning, she got word from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Both Corrie's son Michael and her daughter-in-law Bev Gosling were told by different people in different offices that Corrie's birth certificate and proof of admission to Canada were essential to getting a passport.

But on Tuesday, Corrie was told that her citizenship was never in doubt. She was told all she needs to get a citizenship card are two photos, copies of her driver's licence and health care card and $75, and then she can apply for a passport.

Until Tuesday, the fact that Corrie gets old-age security and a veteran's pension, has a health card and had a Canadian passport until the last one expired in 1999 wasn't enough for clerks in either the Kelowna or Surrey passport offices to confirm her citizenship.

Now suddenly, the hundreds of dollars, hundreds of hours of work and worry trying to find a replacement birth certificate for one that had been lost at sea nearly 80 years earlier or proof of entry 67 years ago were declared unnecessary.

There was no apology for the fact that she'd lost the opportunity to attend two grandsons' weddings in Australia and the birth of her first great-grandchild.

Tuesday's call from Nicole Campbell from Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa came on the first working day after my column outlining Corrie's difficulties ran in the paper and six weeks after Quebec MP Marlene Jennings (whose own citizenship was questioned a few years ago) wrote a letter on Corrie's behalf to Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney.

Now, to make sure nothing goes astray, Corrie was told to send her completed application directly to Campbell.

To expedite the process, Campbell set up the appointment for her at the Kelowna passport office and told staff exactly which forms were needed -- including one waiving privacy rights so that passport officials can talk to citizenship officials if Corrie needs a temporary passport before her permanent one is processed, which indeed she might.

She is eager to go to Australia and she and her daughter-in-law have already decided on next August for an Alaskan cruise.

It's all a happy resolution for Corrie. But, from what I've heard from others, her problems aren't unique.

The rules are so complicated. There are different ones for war brides and their children, British subjects born before the first Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947 (and their children), people born outside the country to Canadian fathers as opposed to mothers, children born in or out of wedlock.

It's almost impossible for citizens to figure it out and it may be equally so for staff at Service Canada and Citizenship Canada.

It's a such a mess that a web-site,,has been set up to track the problems and propose legislative solutions.

It's a mess that needs to be straightened out as quickly as possible so that others don't get caught in a nightmare web like Priscilla Corrie did.

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