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 National: Parents applaud push to close citizenship gap for foreign-born adopted children
The committee introduced an amendment, championed by Kwan, calling for the creation of a test to determine if a potential Canadian has a "substantial connection" to Canada.
The test written into the amendment states that the potential Canadian has to live in the country for 1,095 days — the equivalent of three years.
The committee also introduced a second amendment saying that any current first-generation citizen born abroad with a "substantial connection" to Canada can pass on their citizenship to their kids born abroad, provided those citizens were born after the 2009 law was adopted.