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.

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."

CIMM#68: Debating Bill S-245

"I would also say that, for people who need, perhaps, an urgent recognition for citizenship, such as in the examples Mr. Kmiec has mentioned, there is of course a provision in which that could happen, and that is honorary citizenship, which the minister has the authority to grant as well. Because citizenship applications have a hardship component within them, in respect of which the minister can exercise that right to look at those cases for delays, I think that at this point we should focus on what is before us, which is the issue of lost Canadians.

I'm tempted to bring forward all manner of amendments that would be outside the scope of Bill S-245 but are something I really want to see through, such as, for example, an amendment to deal with statelessness. I recognize, however, that maybe I would not be doing that appropriately and would, therefore, be undermining the very people who are trying to get their situation addressed. That would be the families with lost Canadians, who have been waiting patiently to see what this committee does. To that end, I will not be supporting this amendment, and I'm hopeful that we can actually get through the entire package of all the amendments that are before us by 7:30 p.m. today."

CIMM#67: Debating Bill S-245 and discussing the issue of international students

"Not to belabour this point, but I hope this will give some comfort to committee members and to the public. On the issue of the 700 international students who have been mistreated by bad actors with ghost consultants, I wrote a letter to the minister about that early last week, to call on the government to take action, especially in terms of staying the deportation of these students and finding a permanent pathway for the students, whether that be through an H and C application process or a regularization process.

That's something I am working on actively with the minister's office, and I am hopeful that this will be addressed. That's definitely a big concern for people, and rightfully so.”

"I actually have a new NDP-8 to move. The new NDP-8 essentially collapses all the subamendments, the three subamendments from the government side, into one. That new NDP-8 is being shared with the clerk for distribution, and I will quickly talk a bit about what it does.

Effectively, NDP-8 ensures that the new connection test is also able to be applied to children adopted from abroad, and it also addresses what happens if the child is born before the death of the parent who must meet the connection test. How this new NDP-8 would differ from the previous one is that it does remove the grandparents component piece, so this is different in the sense that it—"

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.


Are you ready to take action?

Constituent Resources
Mobile Offices
Contact Jenny

Sign up for updates