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.
"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."