Montreal Gazette: Lost Canadian provisions in citizenship bill fall short: critics

OTTAWA — Measures aimed at closing the citizenship loophole for so-called lost Canadians came up short, critics said Friday — a day after the government introduced a sweeping bill overhauling the Citizenship Act.

Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, purports to restore citizenship for those born before 1947 when Canada didn’t have a Citizenship Act and were thus considered British subjects, as well as their first generation children who were born outside Canada and often only learned they weren’t Canadian when they tried to get a passport.

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Under the bill, Canadian military personnel and public servants who were born abroad will also get to pass citizenship on to their children, even if their children are adopted abroad.

It will likely bode well for a pair of cases in Ottawa and Vancouver that inspired the legislative changes, but Don Chapman believes it leaves other groups out.

The longtime advocate for those fighting for citizenship said he expects Jackie Scott, a B.C. woman in her late 60s who was born out-of-wedlock to a Canadian-born serviceman and British would-be war bride, will probably win her citizenship battle as a result though the “devil is in the details.”

That said, it won’t derail her ongoing court case and it doesn’t do anything to recognize that both Scott, her father and other soldiers who fought for Canada were Canadian all along, regardless of whether Canada had a Citizenship Act, as referenced in evidence before the court in her case.

“I would suggest that she’s already a citizen by operation of law. They’ve been illegally denying it all these years,” Chapman said, adding second generation Canadians who were born abroad and thus denied citizenship due to changes made in 2009 are among those not addressed in this bill.

The new exception for military brats also means Ottawa couple Sarah Currie and her husband Michael — a three-time Afghan war veteran — will be able to pass citizenship on to their adopted Haitian baby, who finally arrived in Canada before Christmas. Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who advocated on their behalf, said they’re lucky and the exception shouldn’t stop at them.

While Sarah is the military brat, Michael was born at the same German base to Canadian parents working there as civilian teachers. If it weren’t for Sarah, he said, the proposed amendments wouldn’t even apply.

“A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Period. Full stop. End of story,” Karygiannis said, adding all children of Canadian citizens should automatically have a right to citizenship themselves.

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