HANSARD: Addressing the issue of Lost Canadian

Madam Speaker, for decades some Canadians have found themselves to be stateless due to a number of convoluted immigration laws. Some have found themselves all of a sudden losing their Canadian status and they do not know why.
In 2007, the UN listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making their own people stateless. In 2009, the Conservatives said they were going to address this issue with Bill C-37. In fact, Jason Kenney was the minister of immigration then. Sadly, Bill C-37 did not properly address the lost Canadians issue. At the time, even Conservative minister Diane Finley acknowledged that Bill C-37 would not fix all of the cases of lost Canadians.
In fact, Jason Kenney created a brand new set of problems. For the purposes of this discussion, I will not get into the issues of how the Conservatives eliminated people's right to appeal when the government revoked their citizenship. I will simply focus on the issue of lost Canadians.

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business
5:30 p.m.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his comments and for sponsoring this bill. It is an important bill to bring forward.

However, to the point of lost Canadians, there are still many other categories of lost Canadians, and this bill would not help them regain their status. In fact, it was the Conservatives who took away second-generation born abroads' right to pass on their citizenship to their children. It was Jason Kenney who took away that right.

If we are going to fix this, would the Conservatives support amendments to fix all the problems of lost Canadians, including the problems that the Conservatives brought about with second-generation born abroad?



Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business
October 20th, 2022 / 5:45 p.m.


Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC
NDP

Madam Speaker, for decades some Canadians have found themselves to be stateless due to a number of convoluted immigration laws. Some have found themselves all of a sudden losing their Canadian status and they do not know why.

In 2007, the UN listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making their own people stateless. In 2009, the Conservatives said they were going to address this issue with Bill C-37. In fact, Jason Kenney was the minister of immigration then. Sadly, Bill C-37 did not properly address the lost Canadians issue. At the time, even Conservative minister Diane Finley acknowledged that Bill C-37 would not fix all of the cases of lost Canadians.

In fact, Jason Kenney created a brand new set of problems. For the purposes of this discussion, I will not get into the issues of how the Conservatives eliminated people's right to appeal when the government revoked their citizenship. I will simply focus on the issue of lost Canadians.

How did Bill C-37 not effectively deal with the age 28 issue with lost Canadians? When the government of the day did away with the age 28 rule with Bill C-37, in its wisdom it only applied it going forward. As such, those who turned 28 before 2009 were left behind. That means they remained as lost Canadians.

Affected Canadians caught up in this did not even know their citizenship was cancelled somewhere between 11 years and 15 years ago. For many it only came to light when they applied for something that required proof of citizenship, such as a Canadian passport. In some cases, because of Canada's archaic immigration laws, they discovered they were stateless. Others were faced with deportation, even though they were Canadians in every way prior to turning 28. It is just absurd.

I have met many lost Canadians whose lives have been turned upside down because of these unjust laws. Imagine someone who has lived all their life as a Canadian, has voted in elections, and one day wakes up to be told they no longer are Canadian.

I had the pleasure of meeting Byrdie Funk a number of years ago. She was caught up in this. She is a third-generation Canadian and had to fight this. It took her almost a decade to regain her citizenship, not because the law was changed; she had to shame the government to give her a special grant and to give her citizenship back.

Bill S-245 would fix this age 28 rule, and that is a good thing. However, this bill does not address the other issues for lost Canadians. Through Bill C-37, the Conservatives ended the extension of citizenship to second-generation Canadians born abroad, effectively creating two classes of Canadian citizenship. Preventing Canadians born abroad from passing their citizenship to their children if they were outside of Canada means the breaking up of families.

In the case of Patrick Chandler, when he was offered a job in British Columbia, he moved back to Canada, but he had to leave his wife and his children behind. That is the reality he was faced with as a second-generation Canadian who was born abroad. This is just plain wrong.

In another situation, a woman named Victoria Maruyama received her Canadian citizenship through her father as an immigrant from Vietnam. At 22, she moved to Japan to teach English and met her husband, a Japanese national. Her children were born in Japan, and as a result, they do not have citizenship through her, even though she had moved back to Canada. This is their reality.

In another situation, Gregory Burgess, a first-generation Canadian, and his wife, a Russian Canadian, were on a work visa in Hong Kong. Their child was born there and now their son is stateless. They tried to get their son Canadian citizenship, but the Government of Canada would not allow Mr. Burgess to pass on his Canadian citizenship to his baby. The government told them to apply to Russia, to get Russian citizenship through the mother. It is true. The government told them this right now, when there is a war that Putin is waging against Ukraine, an illegal war. It is unbelievable.

The message here is clear. Somehow, second-generation born-abroad Canadians are less worthy. These Canadians lost their ability to pass on their citizenship to their children. That is no thanks to the Conservatives and to Jason Kenney through Bill C-37.

Even though Bill C-37 was meant to fix the lost Canadian issues, many of the issues were not fixed, even though, in another situation, then ministers Jason Kenney and Chris Alexander had both asserted that Canadians were all British subjects prior to 1947.

That means that war heroes who fought for Canada are deemed British subjects, even though in 1943, for example, the Department of National Defence gave them documents indicating that they would be fighting the war as Canadians, as citizens of Canada. That is what was in the documents handed to those soldiers. The Conservatives would not recognize that.

Those war heroes have been left out as Canadians. They have been left behind. Some have passed on, but we should honour them and recognize them and their families. They were very much a part of Canada and should be recognized as Canadians.

Others were being discriminated against because of their age, gender and family status. Another individual, a Surrey resident, Jackie Scott, who was born in 1945 to a Canadian veteran and a British woman, was repeatedly denied citizenship despite having lived for decades in Canada. She was raised in Canada, effectively, and voted as an adult, and yet when she applied for her citizenship certificate in 2005, to her shock, she was told that she was not a Canadian. She had to launch a lawsuit against the federal government before the government would even take action to address the situation. Even though she voted previously and pretty well lived all of her life in Canada, she found herself, all of a sudden, without citizenship.

I could go on with a list of issues. I should note that when asked about lost Canadians in opposition, the now Prime Minister said that Minister Kenney needed to understand that the principles of Canadian citizenship need to be administered with compassion and openness, and that he simply was not addressing these Canadian issues.

The Liberal government had a choice to fix this problem and it did not do it, not since the 2015 election. That is why there are so many people who have lost their citizenship and now are lost Canadians. This needs to be fixed once and for all.

We need to address this issue. I have tabled a private members' bill to this effect. We can take that bill and work from there. We can make amendments to this bill, if they are not deemed to be out of scope or deemed to be out of order.

We do need to fix the lost Canadian issue. We have seen the havoc that it has created in people's lives and it needs to stop.

I want to thank all of the advocates, including Don Chapman, Randall Emery and so many others who have been fighting for Canada to right these laws and do away with these unjust discriminatory practices in our immigration laws.

Let the lost Canadians be recognized now.

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HANSARD: Foreign Interference and Alleged Reputational Harm to Members of Parliament

Outside this chamber, just yesterday, there were individuals shouting, questioning and jeering about who the traitors may be. Members of Parliament had to walk past these individuals on the members' way to the House to do their work. I believe we must find a way to disclose which MPs are knowingly, intentionally, wittingly or semi-wittingly engaging with foreign states or their proxies to undermine Canada's democratic processes and institutions. I believe this can be done in a way that does not compromise national security.

If there are no consequences for MPs who knowingly help foreign governments act against Canadian interests, we will continue to be an easy target. This will further erode the trust and faith Canadians have in our democratic processes. If allowed to continue, it will further impugn the integrity of the House. Revealing any member of Parliament, former or present, who is a willing participant in foreign interference activities would have the effect of deterring this kind of behaviour. Moreover, it would send a clear message to those foreign states that this cannot continue and that they will not be able to continue to use parliamentarians in this way. This will further reassure the public of the integrity of the House.

I strongly believe that the House should refer the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee. A possible way to deal with the issue would be for committee members to undergo the necessary security screening to examine the unredacted report and look into the allegations about parliamentarians who were “‘witting or semi-witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.” We could allow the named parliamentarians to be informed and to come before the committee as witnesses; we could then explore options on how to disclose the named parliamentarians without compromising national security or police investigations of the matter.

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