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.

MEDIA RELEASE: NDP moves amendments to fix the issue of “Lost Canadians”

Kwan will table amendments to an immigration Senate Bill S-245 to reverse this discriminatory law against second generation Canadians born abroad and their descendants. 

“I have met many lost Canadians whose lives have been turned upside down because of this unjust policy that creates different classes of Canadian citizens,” added Kwan. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring second generation Canadians and their descendants born abroad attain their right to citizenship.”

CIMM#58: Jenny’s Motions on Bill S-245 and inviting ministers to testify on Senator McPhedran’s affair

 Related to Bill S-245, given the tight timeline of the requirement for the bill to be reported back to the House, I'm going to move the following motion, Madam Chair, a copy of which, in both French and English, has been sent to the clerk for distribution to the committee members. That motion reads as follows:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, the committee request an extension of thirty (30) sitting days to consider Bill S-245, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (granting citizenship to certain Canadians), referred to the committee on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, to give the Bill the consideration it requires and that the Chair present this request to the House.

Madam Chair, as indicated, we're kind of a little bit down to the wire here with the timeline. To ensure that the committee has the opportunity to do all the necessary work related to this bill, I therefore move this motion.”

CIMM#56: Committee discussed the Lost Canadian Senate Bill

 Thank you to the senator for bringing this important bill forward. I appreciate its giving us an opportunity to look at the issue of lost Canadians. As you've indicated, Senator, the scope of the bill is very limited. That means that many people will still be left out in the situation of lost Canadians.
You were just mentioning the suffering that people have to endure as a result of that. What we do know, of course, is that the second-generation rule cut-off from the previous administration took place in 2009. Consequently, a class of people—Canadians—all of a sudden lost their right to be Canadian and were deemed lost Canadians and second-class citizens in that way.

That said, we have an opportunity to fix this. I get that the scope of the bill only deals with the 28-year rule. Do you have any objection to the idea of fixing the other lost Canadians on the second-generation rule where people have been cut off? That's one piece.

The other piece is to fix the rule for those who were born before 1947—the war heros, if you will, who fought for Canada and died for Canada and were never recognized as Canadians.

Would you agree that we should actually try to fix those? Would you have any objections to that?”

CIMM#54: Inquiring with IRCC officials about Bill S-245 and the Lost Canadians issue

"For sure, this Citizenship Act is a complex file, with so many changes over the years that amendments brought to the table often require amendments to the exception to the exception and so on. It's extremely confusing.

From my perspective, first off, I'd like to say that we have before us Bill S-245, and I want to acknowledge and thank Senator Yonah Martin for bringing this before us, because it gives us an opportunity to look into this issue and see how we can fix some of the problems. Maybe it will never be possible to fix all of the problems, but I think it will be important and incumbent on all of us to do our very best to try to fix as many problems as possible.

I appreciate the briefing in terms of your highlighting some of those areas. On the question around unintended consequences, I'd like to probe a little bit deeper into this issue around other countries, where, if you were to confer citizenship to the individual, it might cause them a heap of trouble, because in whatever country they might be in they may not be allowed to, for example, have dual citizenship.

Of course, conferring citizenship automatically in this way was done before. It was done under Bill C-37, it was done under Bill C-24 and so on. Somehow it was dealt with in those previous scenarios. I get it that times might have changed. There might be more people living globally, but nonetheless the premise of that has not changed.

Can you advise us on how officials addressed those issues back then? Why was it okay then to confer citizenship without these concerns of unintended consequences, but now it is a key concern?”

Toronto Star: Is the government doing enough to help these ‘lost Canadians’?

Opposition MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic, said the citizenship law has been amended so many times with exceptions layered with exceptions that the regime has become so complex and it’d be much simpler and better just to bring in a brand new act.

“It was the conservatives who actually took out the passing on of citizenship to future generations, so there is a reluctance for them to get into this because they have to admit that they were wrong,” said Kwan.

“It’s a mystery to me why the Liberals wouldn’t want to fix it, other than to say that the Liberals are true to form, always says the right thing but they can never follow up with action.”

HANSARD: Addressing the issue of Lost Canadian

Madam Speaker, for decades some Canadians have found themselves to be stateless due to a number of convoluted immigration laws. Some have found themselves all of a sudden losing their Canadian status and they do not know why.
In 2007, the UN listed Canada as one of the top offending countries for making their own people stateless. In 2009, the Conservatives said they were going to address this issue with Bill C-37. In fact, Jason Kenney was the minister of immigration then. Sadly, Bill C-37 did not properly address the lost Canadians issue. At the time, even Conservative minister Diane Finley acknowledged that Bill C-37 would not fix all of the cases of lost Canadians.
In fact, Jason Kenney created a brand new set of problems. For the purposes of this discussion, I will not get into the issues of how the Conservatives eliminated people's right to appeal when the government revoked their citizenship. I will simply focus on the issue of lost Canadians.

CBC: Can new legislation help 'Lost Canadians' be found again?

But there's another category of Lost Canadians the new legislation won't address.

The "second-generation cutoff" is a rule under Bill C-37 that permanently denies the first generation born abroad the ability to automatically pass on citizenship to their children if they are also born outside Canada. 

It also eliminated the ability to gain citizenship by showing a "substantial connection" to Canada. Now those second-generation children have to be sponsored by their parents to come to Canada as permanent residents, then apply for citizenship like any other immigrant.
Critics say it has created two classes of Canadian citizenship — one for Canadians born in Canada and one for those born abroad. 

"What's discriminatory about the Citizenship Act is that there is no way that people can rid themselves of this second-class status, no matter how close and deep their ties to Canada are," said Sujit Choudhry, a constitutional lawyer in Toronto representing seven families living in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States, who are all affected by this rule. 

Link: NDP MP Jenny Kwan To Table Bill To Close Citizenship Law Gaps Creating “Lost Canadians”

“It is absurd that Canada continues to have gaps in our citizenship laws that lead to groups of ‘Lost Canadians’ suddenly finding themselves without status in Canada. What’s more, it’s 2016, why is Canada persisting with a multi-year court case on the strength of a law that the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled to unconstitutional?”

After a series of consultations with stakeholder groups and immigration law experts, MP Kwan will be tabling a Private Member’s Bill to address gaps and outdated provisions with the Citizenship Actthat resulted in people who should be Canadian citizens losing or never receiving status in Canada. In some cases, impacted individuals find themselves stateless all of a sudden.

Globe: Children born abroad to Canadians may end up as ‘lost Canadians’

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan, who has met with other affected families, called the policy "discriminatory" against Canadians who choose to work abroad, especially in today's global economy.

"The Prime Minister himself has said on many occasions now, 'a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.' This also applies to second-generation Canadians born abroad as well. They shouldn't be treated as second-class citizens," Ms. Kwan said.

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