Ottawa Citizen: NDP tries to fix 'Lost Canadians' quagmire : Many denied citizenship from technicalities

Don Chapman of the Lost Canadians in Ottawa, June, 2013.
They are men and women who have been denied citizenship because their fathers were technically British subjects when they got their would-be war brides pregnant while serving during the Second World War.

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The NDP will table a motion before a Commons committee on Thursday - the anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Nazi-Germany occupied France - to recognize that the situation of the remaining Lost Canadians "has gone unaddressed for too long."

The motion notes the children of Canadians who served in the military and were born before 1947, when Canada first established its own citizenship, are particularly affected. It calls on the government to "urgently bring forward measures to restore citizenship to the Lost Canadians." "

Action can be taken this week," NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said Wednesday. "Let's get this done."

Meanwhile, the Liberals are going to bat for a new batch of Lost Canadians - second-generation residents who were born abroad and lost their right to Canadian citizenship when the government tried to fix the problem through Bill C-37.

On Thursday, MP Jim Karygiannis will publicly lend his support to a petition on behalf of Sarah Currie and her husband, Michael, an Ottawa couple who have been trying to adopt a baby in Haiti. Both military "brats" born in Germany - Michael is himself a three-time Afghan war veteran - they are being told their adopted child cannot get automatic citizenship because of the new rules, which took effect in 2009. "

A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian," Karygiannis said, noting he wouldn't object to rules that require second-generation Canadians who were born abroad to at least live in Canada for a set period before becoming citizens.

"Anybody who is born to Canadian parents, they should be Canadian." It's unclear if the government will budge on the second-generation born-abroad group, a measure that was imposed following the 2006 airlift of Lebanese Canadians at the height of the Lebanon-Israel war. Controversial and costly, many thought they were mere "Canadians of convenience" and, though some refute the claim, it was felt the new rules would deal with such situations in the future.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, however, said last July that legislation to "correct" the "aberration" involving pre-1947 war bride babies would be introduced "very soon."

His office maintains that statement holds, but long-time citizenship crusader Don Chapman isn't convinced.

Himself in citizenship limbo because he was born in Canada but lost his citizenship as a child because his father moved the family to the U.S. and became an American, Chapman was among the 95 per cent of Lost Canadians who had their citizenship restored thanks to Bill C-37.

But the Vancouver resident continues to fight for the remaining five per cent, arguing the legislation fell short and failed to account for people like Jackie Scott, a 67-year-old woman born out of wedlock to a Canadian-born serviceman and a British would-be war bride. Denied Canadian citizenship on the basis that she and her father were born before Canada had any citizenship laws, she's taking her case to Federal Court in July.

"This is about discrimination, especially about women, and that equates, amazingly, to kicking people out of Canada who are our war vets, the children of our war vets," Chapman said during an interview in Ottawa where he arrived this week to lobby the government before parliamentarians break for the summer.

 "They gave their lives for us, a lot of these people, now it's our turn to embrace them."

Ever passionate about the plight, Chapman pulls out of his briefcase a National Defence book that describes First World War soldiers as "wonderful Canadian citizens" and an Encyclopedia of Canada from 1940 that defines citizenship seven years before the first Citizenship Act was adopted. He argues plenty of evidence exists that points to the notion of Canadian citizenship well before it technically existed, and that it would be an "easy fix" for the government if not for a lack of political will. Based on government figures, Chapman estimates there are about 37,500 Lost Canadians.

Many lived their lives thinking they were Canadian only to learn, often when trying to obtain a passport or old age security benefits, that they are not because of a technicality in law. © Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen