In 2007, the UN's Refugees magazine listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making its own people stateless. In 2009, the Conservatives promised to fix the issue of lost Canadian citizenship with Bill C-37. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Worse still, the Conservatives created a new group of lost Canadians.

Currently, a large group of Canadians are deemed to be second-class citizens due to the Conservative government's first-generation cut-off rule, introduced by the Harper administration in 2009. Bill C-37 ended the extension of citizenship to second-generation Canadians born abroad, causing undue hardship for many families. Some families are even separated, and some individuals are left stateless.

I spoke with Patrick Chandler, a Canadian citizen who spent most of his life in Canada but was born abroad. As an adult, he worked overseas, married someone from another country, and had children. He was later offered a job in British Columbia, but when he moved back to Canada, he had to leave his wife and children behind because he could not pass on his citizenship to his children. He had to go through an arduous process to reunite with them a year later.

Many families are being impacted in this way, and it is unjust. Canadians should not be put in such situations, yet many are suffering through them.

Since being assigned as the NDP Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Critic, I have been advocating to resolve the issue of Lost Canadians, including tabling a Private Member’s Bill in 2016.

CBC: Teenage surfing star Erin Brooks granted Canadian citizenship, now sets sights on Olympics

Brooks's citizenship bid was initially turned down. But Immigration Minister Marc Miller had a change of heart after a December ruling by Ontario's Superior Court of Justice that it is unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to the children of foreign-born Canadians who grew up abroad.

The Brooks family then refiled its application under a hardship status, based on the recommendation of the Immigration Department, to accelerate the process.

"I love Canada. I have never been prouder to wear the Maple Leaf," Erin Brooks said in a statement released by the family. "To Minister Marc Miller and MP Jenny Kwan, you have changed my life. I believe that I will do something truly special for my country thanks to your gift of citizenship."

Kwan, the NDP's immigration critic, helped advocate for Brooks.

Surfer: Teenage Surfer Erin Brooks Granted Canadian Citizenship for Paris 2024 Olympics Bid

“Lost Canadian Erin Brooks has been granted her Canadian citizenship after reconsideration by the Minister of Immigration. Erin Brooks, a 16-year old surfing prodigy and has worked hard for her whole life for the chance to compete for Canada at the Olympics.

“When Erin was born, she’d the right to Canadian citizenship. Conservative C-37 revoked that right in 2009. As a result of this unjust law, Erin was denied this life-changing opportunity to represent Canada in the 2024 Olympics.”

CBC: 'Lost Canadians' win in Ontario court as judge ends 2 classes of citizenship

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has ruled it's unconstitutional for Canada to deny automatic citizenship to children born abroad to parents who were also born overseas but have a substantial connection to Canada — a big win for "Lost Canadians" trying to reclaim citizenship rights.

"It's a wonderful Christmas gift," said Sujit Choudhry, a constitutional lawyer in Toronto representing seven multi-generational families living in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States who challenged what's known as Canada's "second-generation cut-off rule."

"It removes a second-class status that people had because of the accident of where they were born."

Choudhry filed a constitutional challenge in December 2021, suing the federal government for denying his clients the right to transmit their citizenship to their foreign-born offspring.

In a 55-page ruling released this week, Justice Jasmine Akbarali found that the second-generation cut-off rule violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it "treats differently those Canadians who became Canadians at birth because they were born in Canada from those Canadians who obtained their citizenship by descent on their birth outside of Canada.”

The Inertia: Canadian Official Calls for Erin Brooks To Be Granted Citizenship

Erin Brooks was once Canada’s greatest hope for Olympic surfing gold. Then it was discovered that she was not legally a Canadian and shortly afterwards her application for citizenship was officially rejected. Now, a member of the Canadian government has taken up the ongoing fight to get Brooks citizenship in time to qualify for Paris.
Jenny Kwan, a Member of Parliament affiliated with the New Democratic Party, called on Marc Miller, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to step in and grant Brooks citizenship. Furthermore, Kwan accused the Conservative opposition in Ottawa of stalling Bill S-245, an amendment to the Citizenship Act that would allow second-generation people born abroad to be granted Citizenship, as the Vancouver Sun reports.

CBC: MP Jenny Kwan tells feds to help Erin Brooks surf for Canada at Paris Olympics

A full-court press is underway to get Erin Brooks on a surfboard for Canada at the upcoming world championships and Olympic Games.

Member of Parliament Jenny Kwan, the NDP critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, asked Minister Marc Miller on Thursday to grant Brooks citizenship because an amendment to the Citizenship Act has stalled in Ottawa.

"I'm asking the Minister of Immigration to grant Erin's citizenship under special grant, citing undue hardship," Kwan said Thursday at a press conference in Vancouver.

The 16-year-old Brooks earned a silver medal at this year's world championship and claimed a 2022 world junior title competing for Canada under an International Surfing Association citizenship waiver.

She also won a World Surf League Challenger Series event Oct. 21 in Saquarema, Brazil.

"Erin is a prodigy," Surf Canada executive director Dom Domic said.

Canada's recent denial of Brooks' citizenship application threw a spanner in her career.
Kwan accused the Conservative opposition in Ottawa of stalling an amendment to the Citizenship Act, Bill S-245, that restores citizenship rights for second-generation people born abroad.

Bill C-37 in 2009 ended those rights and Kwan says Brooks is emblematic of those experiencing the fallout.

Bill S-245 won't return to the House of Commons for third reading before mid-December, Kwan said.

"As the Canadian law stands right now, people who are second generation born abroad, do not have Canadian citizenship conferred to them from their Canadian parents. This was not always the case," Kwan said.

Globe: Liberals, NDP urge Conservatives not to stall citizenship rights for ‘lost Canadians’

Bill S-245 would change the law so if a Canadian parent could demonstrate a “substantial connection” to Canada, their child would again qualify for a passport.

It would also reinstate citizenship for a group of people born between 1977 and 1981, classified as “second generation born abroad,” who failed to reaffirm their citizenship by the age of 28.

The bill has passed through the Senate and most of its Commons stages, including in committee.

“We support the bill and encourage all parties to do so as well,” said Bahoz Dara Aziz, spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

But the NDP’s immigration critic Jenny Kwan accused the Conservatives of stalling its progress and “playing petty political games,” including filibustering debate at committee, to reduce its chances of becoming law.

She accused the sponsor of the Senate bill in the Commons, Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan, of slowing the bill’s passage in the House by twice switching its scheduled third reading debate with another bill. Mr. Hallan and Tom Kmiec, the Conservative immigration critic, would not comment.

“Canada needs to fix the lost Canadians issue once and for all. The Conservatives were wrong to strip the right of parents to pass on their Canadian citizenship to their second-generation-born-abroad children 14 years ago,” she said. “In the case of William and Jack Cowling, it means they do not have the legal status to work in Canada and the family farm that has been in their family for six generations is now in jeopardy.”

Canadian Press: Amended bill that would extend citizenship rights to some born abroad heads to House

Conservatives say they value families but they took away the rights of Canadians born abroad to pass down their citizenship to their children if they were also born abroad -  breaking up families.  Some children are now stateless.  Instead of working together to fix it 14 years later, they tried to stop it with a 30 hour filibuster.  Who are they trying to kid with their self-serving justifications. 

CIMM#70 - 3: Debating Bill S-245 and Motion on International Students

"I, too, would like to thank the staff, particularly for their patience and endurance with this bill.

Now I'd like to move two motions, Madam Chair. I will move them one by one. I'll let the first one be dealt with first, and then when we've finished with that, if you can come to back to me, Madam Chair, I'll move my second motion.

My first motion is:

That, following news reports that international students admitted into Canada with valid study permits were issued fraudulent college acceptance letters by immigration consultants, and are now facing deportation, the committee issue a news release to condemn the actions of these fraudulent “ghost consultants” and call on the Canada Border Services Agency to immediately stay pending deportations of affected international students, waive inadmissibility on the basis of misrepresentation and provide an alternate pathway to permanent status for those impacted, such as the humanitarian and compassionate application process or a broad regularization program.

Madam Chair, I'd like to move this motion first. I think it is important that this motion be adopted by the committee.

As mentioned previously, this is an issue that I wrote to the minister about, long before this matter became a topic for this committee. I called for him to take action in raising the concerns of how these students have been victims of this fraudulent scheme. The measures we need the government to take are staying the deportations; waiving inadmissibility based on misrepresentation by the fraudulent, ghost consultants in submitting doctored admissions letters, unbeknownst to the students; and then, finally, giving the students a permit pathway.

As we know, when students are faced with the issue of inadmissibility, it stays on their record for five years. That applies to all immigration pathways, so this is very significant to their future.

These students—I've met with many of them now—are in such a terrible state. They've lost money, and they are stuck in a terrible situation. Some of them have deportation orders. Others have pending meetings with the CBSA.”

CIMM#70 - 2: Debating Bill S-245 and Motion on International Students

"I'll be very brief and say that when Bill S-245 was tabled, I had a chance to meet with Senator Martin. I indicated to her my intentions of expanding the bill beyond the scope it touched on.

The senator made it clear to me that as long as I had the minister's support, I would have her support as well. That, of course, changed at the last minute, because later on, I was advised that she would no longer be able to proceed with that out of respect for her Conservative parliamentarians.

Anyway, I just wanted to set the record straight on the process that I embarked on. We are where we are. We've gone through several rounds of this. I don't want to prolong this, but I want to get that on the record."

CIMM#69: Debating Bill S-245

"Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I just note that what's happening, of course, is that for every amendment the Conservatives move, we break for about 10 minutes and we lose 10 minutes. If the Conservative members don't want committee members to have these amendments in advance, certainly they can pass them on to the clerk, and as these items come to be debated, we could have them sent immediately so that we don't pause for 10 minutes every time."

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