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.

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.


CIMM#66: Debating Bill S-245

"Yes, I'd like to move NDP-5. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

This amendment deals with a number of the issues. I want to particularly highlight the issue around those who don't want citizenship conferred on them. There was quite a bit of discussion, committee members will recall, about that concern. What happens to those who don't want it, for whatever reason?

To that end, written into this amendment is the opportunity to opt out. Those who don't want it could opt out. Upon notification to the government that they don't want citizenship conferred on them, then this would have no impact for them. It would not apply to them. Effectively, it is an opt-out provision. That is what it is aimed to do, Madam Chair."

CIM#65: Debating Bill S-245

"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.”

CIMM#64: Debating Bill S-245

Before I speak to the motion, I want to first touch on an issue with your decision.

What you found is that the matter raised relates to a matter of privilege. However, it is my understanding, Madam Chair, that you have not found that privilege was violated at this committee. I just want to make sure that was the case.

With respect to the motion from Mr. Dhaliwal, I certainly support the motion to call the witness to come before the committee to provide clarity on the question of privilege. To be sure, if that motion passes, the motion is to call the witness to speak before the committee on the question around privilege and not to revisit, I assume, the issue around Bill S-245. If I'm incorrect, I would like to have some clarity on that. I think that's an important motion from this perspective.

I had the chance to review the Hansard from Mr. Kmiec that was made at the last committee meeting. He seemed to indicate that he believed a breach of the committee's privilege has occurred. I will quote from it:

What I have heard about the Liberal NDP compromise is that they will offer subamendments—

CIMM#63: Jenny tables amendments for S-245 to fix the issue of Lost Canadians

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I will move NDP-3.

This amendment is really related to the package on the second generation cut-off rule. It extends citizenship to the second generation born abroad and subsequent generations, and restores those impacted since the second generation cut-off rule was enacted back in 2009.

Included in this, I should just point out that it also recognizes the connections test and that it would apply to both the parents and the grandparents.”

CIMM#62 Debate on Bill S-245

 This amendment aims to address the second generation cut-off rule. Committee members will know that in 2009, under Bill C-37, the right for Canadians to pass their citizenship on to children born abroad was taken away. As a result, it has created a new class of lost Canadians. That's been extremely problematic. That was done back in 2009 by the Conservative government.
This amendment aims to restore that right to those individuals by establishing a connections test to Canada. I'm proposing that we establish the connections test in four ways. It says:

(i) the person has been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days,

(ii) the person has been registered as an elector or a future elector under the Canada Elections Act,

(iii) the person has studied at an elementary, secondary, post-secondary or vocational school in Canada, or

(iv) the person has been employed by the Government of Canada, or has been a representative or delegate of Canada, at an international organization, summit or forum.

I'm moving this amendment, Madam Chair, because I think it is important to recognize those lost Canadians. If they meet any one of those connections tests that I've highlighted, I think they should be able to have the right restored to them.

Madam Chair, at this point I'm just wondering if I should I read out the content of the amendment as it is drafted by the legislative council. Can I just say that I move NDP-1?”

CPAC: Jenny on Citizenship Rights for Second-Generation Canadians and Lost Canadians

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan discusses amendments she will be moving at the House of Commons immigration committee on a policy related to citizenship rights of second-generation Canadians born abroad. She is joined at the news conference on Parliament Hill by Randall Emery (founding director of the Canadian Citizens Rights Council), Don Chapman (founder of the Lost Canadians Society), Sujit Choudhry (immigration lawyer representing lost Canadian families), and Emma Kenyon (an individual who was impacted by the citizenship policy). In 2009, Stephen Harper's Conservative government passed Bill C-37, which ended the rights of individuals to pass on Canadian citizenship to their children born abroad. Kwan will table amendments to Bill S-245, which was sponsored by Senator Yonah Martin and passed by the Senate in May 2022. Senator Martin's bill amends the Citizenship Act to permit certain people who lost their Canadian citizenship to regain it. (April 17, 2023) (no interpretation)

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