"First off, I'd like to touch on the issue around the overall strategy because that seems to be the central issue here. Right from the beginning—and I'll repeat it again at this committee—I engaged with stakeholders all the way through to talk about Bill S-245 and what amendments needed to be made. Through that consultation, it was clear to me that the groups wanted the lost Canadians issue addressed once and for all, and not just as it related to the narrow category that was established under the bill itself.
There were a variety of areas that we needed to address, including those who had lost their right to pass on their citizenship to children born abroad. There were issues around what I loosely call “war heroes”. Those are individuals who fought for Canada, went to war for Canada, for example, died for Canada and never came back. However, at the time they did that, because Canada was not formulated as a country—Confederation had not taken place—they were not recognized as citizens in a technical sense. Part of the goal, of course, was trying to address those people and to make them whole, even though they may have passed on. Their descendants have already had access to Canadian citizenship. It's just really a symbolic thing.
Another category that needed to be addressed, for example, included those who faced discrimination because of Canada's immigration laws and citizenship laws over the years. I was trying to capture those individuals and make them whole.
Anyway, there are a number of these kinds of categories. Right from the get-go, I made it clear that's what I was trying to do.
In that process, it was determined, through the stakeholder consultation, that they would like to see the government address this by way of conferring those rights back to them. In that process, I came up with a number of suggestions to address those. For example, being in Canada for 1,095 days, consistent with what the Citizenship Act outlines by way of the number of days, was one connections test.”