Daily Gleaner: The time has come to give lost Canadian veterans citizenship

Fredericton Daily Gleaner
Published Wednesday November 3rd, 2010

To read the original article on line click here

Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made this statement to the president of Ukraine while visiting his country:

"As Canadians, we believe that a government must work in the interests of its people, not the other way around.

"We believe that countries that respect the rights of their own people are more likely to respect the rights of other nations and be good world citizens."

Remembrance Day 2010 is fast approaching, and there remain Canadian veterans and their families who are still disenfranchised from Canada without citizenship.

For the most part, these people have lived, worked, paid taxes, raised families, and some even voted and held Canadian passports, only to discover that today, under the Conservative government, they aren't really Canadian citizens.

One such person was Montreal-born Guy Valliere, who, because he was born in Canada in-wedlock to a Canadian mother and an American father in 1926, was deemed not to be Canadian.

At his funeral in February 2009 these words were spoken: "You are a man forgotten by your country, but acknowledged by your desire to be Canadian."

Ironically, had Guy been born out-of wedlock or after 1947, the Canadian government would have recognized his citizenship.

Another veteran is Peter Brammah from Calgary.

The son of an English war bride, his only sin is that his Canadian stepfather, a Second World War veteran, failed to formally adopt Peter in 1946 when he was brought to Canada as a nine-year-old along with his mother and baby sister, Marion, on the Queen Mary.

Peter grew up in Canada, served in the Canadian Navy for 35 years, and when he applied for a new passport after 9/11, he was told he was not a Canadian citizen.

Meanwhile, baby sister Marion, who also lived in Canada her entire life, was told that she's not a citizen either.

The reason? Because her parents weren't married when she was born in England during the war.

Another veteran is Ian Munroe of Halifax.

Ian is the son of a Scottish war bride and a Canadian Second World War veteran.

He came to Canada as an infant with his war bride mother and lived his entire life in Canada.

He even served 18 years in the Canadian Navy.

He wasn't born out of wedlock, but he too was told he is not a citizen.

In September, 87-year-old war bride Priscilla Corrie finally got her Canadian passport, but only because intense media coverage embarrassed the government.

Priscilla's first husband died as a soldier fighting for Canada in the Second World War.

Is this any way to treat Canadian veterans, their wives and children? I think not.

Could our government do better than this?

I think so, especially when we consider the Prime Minister's significant statement last week to the people of Ukraine.

As the laws are today, thousands of Canadians are being denied their citizenship only because of outdated provisions in our Citizenship Act and the government's complete disregard of Supreme Court rulings on citizenship.

Veterans and their families are being told they don't belong, either because of gender or because they were born in or out of wedlock.

Some veterans, like Ian Munroe, can't even get an explanation for their loss of citizenship.

There are even stateless babies born of a Canadian parent.

Never again should any veteran or a member of their family go to their grave the way Guy Valliere went to his - disenfranchised from the very country they defended when the government called upon them to serve at a time of dire need.

Don Chapman is the leader of the Lost Canadians. He will be in Fredericton to give a public lecture at the Noel Kinsella Auditorium, St. Thomas University at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 8.

His talk will be preceded by a screening of the documentary film Lost Canadians, by filmmaker Garth Pritchard.

For further information go to http://www.lostcanadian.com.

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