A meeting with a Citizenship official
July 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
On July 10th in Ottawa I met with Mary-Ann Hubers, Acting Director of Citizenship Legislation and Policy. The e-mail below was sent on July 13th.
Dear Ms Hubers:
Thank you for meeting with me on Tuesday to discuss the Lost Canadians and possible changes to the Citizenship Act. In this e-mail I want to review and elaborate on the main points we discussed.
1. Lost Canadians
Your Minister has stated that he intends to take steps to rectify the status of the remaining Lost Canadians, including the pre-1947 group, who were excluded from Bill C-37 of 2008. We want him to know that we will hold him to that promise and are prepared to make a constructive contribution to any discussion of possible changes to the Citizenship Act. We naturally prefer a political solution. If, however, that is not forthcoming or the solution offered is unsatisfactory to us, the case of Scott v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will go forward, followed if necessary by more cases representing other categories of still-excluded Lost Canadians. (I have personally done some preparatory work on two of those cases.) In that event, the Minister would do well to consider the political consequences of using the courts to exclude people from citizenship, after a lifetime in Canada, solely because of the date and circumstances of their birth. He should also be aware that if Lord Black of Crossharbour is eventually allowed to resume his citizenship while the remaining Lost Canadians are still excluded, the government will have some explaining to do.
2. Excluded War Bride children
Some War Bride children are still excluded from citizenship solely because they were born out of wedlock. This continuing exclusion is insulting, unconscionable and politically indefensible. In my view it is also unlawful. We now have two precedents (see attachments) in which a child born abroad out of wedlock to parents who later married was ruled to be a natural-born Canadian citizen. The first ruling, which I showed you on Tuesday, was made in 1948, the year of Jackie Scott’s arrival in Canada and of her parents’ marriage. Since the facts in all three cases are essentially the same, I believe the two precedents are equally applicable to Ms Scott’s case.
I have pointed out that Order in Council P.C. 1945-858 gave immediate Canadian domicile to the arriving military dependants (i.e., War Brides and children), exempting them from the usual waiting period of five years under the Immigration Act. From this I conclude that any War Bride child who was in Canada on December 31, 1946 but is excluded from citizenship by the continuing application of the discriminatory provisions of section 4 of the Canadian Citizenship Act 1946, is included under section 9 as a Canadian citizen ‘other than natural-born’.
We still have several such cases outstanding. One of them is a 25-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy whose citizenship was never questioned at any time during his service. If my interpretation of the law is correct, I see no reason why these cases should not be settled quickly.
3. Proposed limitation of citizenship by ius soli
The Minister has proposed that in future only children born in Canada to a parent who is a citizen or a permanent resident should have the right to citizenship by ius soli. I recalled that Lucienne Robillard had made a similar proposal when she was Minister in the 1990s. Nothing came of it.
This proposal if enacted would be the most radical change in our citizenship law since 1947. It should be undertaken only after the widest possible consultation. In the U.K., as I pointed out, the British Nationality Act 1981 was preceded by a Green Paper in 1977 and a White Paper in 1980.
I have serious reservations about this proposal. It could create a large group of people who were born in Canada and know no other country as their home, but are excluded from citizenship. What would be the long-term political and social consequences? And would this or any future government have the political will to deport people born in Canada to countries they have never seen?
There are also administrative implications for governments both federal and provincial. If a Canadian birth certificate is no longer proof of citizenship, every Canadian would presumably have to apply for a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship to get a passport or a provincial document (e.g., health card) for which proof of citizenship is now required. The resulting inconvenience and delay could have political consequences for both levels of government. We cannot have newborns waiting weeks or even months for a health card!
Thank you again for meeting with me. I look forward to learning more about the government’s plans.