House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.

Topics

Official Languages
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #49

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-501, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other Acts (pension protection), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-501 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #50

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. Would all those who wish to continue private conversations, please use the lobbies.

It being 6:10 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

moved that Bill C-467, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (children born abroad), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to introduce this bill to deal with some exceptions that were in the legislation when it was unanimously passed. The bill would—

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member.

Order, please. Out of respect for the hon. member who is speaking, thank you.

The hon. member for Vancouver South.

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Madam Speaker, this bill would amend the Citizenship Act to provide that a child born abroad to, or adopted abroad by, a citizen employed outside Canada in or with the Canadian armed forces, the federal public administration or the public service of a province be considered like a child born in Canada.

Currently, children born abroad to Canadian government workers are considered under the Citizenship Act as first-generation Canadians born abroad. This, in turn, impacts their children, in that they are considered a second generation born abroad and are not eligible for Canadian citizenship if born outside Canada.

This bill would ensure that children born to or adopted by Canadians working for the federal or provincial governments of Canada would be treated as if they had been born in Canada, which is the fair thing to do.

I have an example that I want to provide. It is the example of Howard Cummer, a Canadian citizen who was serving as a trade commissioner to Singapore in 1979, when his son was born. His son now lives in Tokyo and is married to a Japanese national, but if Mr. Cummer's son and daughter-in-law have a child in Tokyo where they live, that child will not be entitled to Canadian citizenship under the current system. I believe that would be unfair. Citizenship would be denied despite Mr. Cummer's record as a civil servant and the fact he was working for the Canadian government at that time.

I am actually going to read the letter that he sent me. He is not my constituent, but he simply contacted me. I decided that it was the right thing to do to introduce this bill. I am using excerpts from his original letter to me. He stated:

“I am writing to you to seek your help in amending Bill C37, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act, which became law on April 17, 2009, to eliminate the unintended consequences of the Bill on the children of Canadians born abroad.

“I know that the Bill was unanimously passed by Parliament to eliminate the transfer of citizenship to the children of 'sojourning' Canadians—who have no long-term or historical ties to Canada and who consider a Canadian passport only to be one of convenience.

“But the Bill cuts far too wide a swath!

“Take my family situation as an example. I was working in Singapore in 1979 as a Canadian Trade Commissioner when my son was born. We had to agree in writing that we would not claim Singapore citizenship for him in order for my wife to have a hospital bed.

“He is now 30 years old, married to a Japanese citizen and starting an internet bank in Tokyo. If he and his wife have a child in Tokyo then under the present rules of C37 that child will not be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

“My family came to Toronto from Pennsylvania in 1797 in the second wave of United Empire loyalists. Their presence is recorded in the place names of Cummer Avenue, Old Cummer Station and Cummer Park and my ancestors are buried in the family graveyard on Yonge Street now tended by the North York Historical Society. The family has fought for Canada in every war since the War of 1812 and was part of the Upper Canada Rebellion with William Lyon Mackenzie in 1837.

“But my family history is short compared to my wife's family—the Dawes claim to have been in Newfoundland since 1508 and can be confirmed as having been there by land titles since 1595.

“Between the two sides of the family there is over 600 years of Canadian history and yet my grandchildren will not be Canadian if born outside of Canada to my children who were born abroad while I was serving Canada.

“This is flat out wrong!

“The bill needs to be amended so that grandchildren of Canadian diplomats, Canadian Armed Forces personnel, the employees of Ministries of finance, Agriculture, Justice, CSIS,—all branches of government within interests abroad—will not be penalized for their citizenship—if their grandparents were working abroad for Canada.

“I am contacting you now to see what can be done to limit the unforeseen impact of this bill and to make the amendments necessary to preserve citizenship where and when it should be preserved.

—Howard Cummer”.

That actually makes the case for this bill more eloquently than I could have in this particular situation.

This is not a partisan issue. It is the right thing to do. Obviously, if and when it does go to committee, we can make the amendments so that there are no unintended consequences.

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I certainly support this bill. However, it only covers public servants. I am wondering whether the hon. member would be willing, once it is at committee, to allow for amendments on the following issue.

Right now, 2.8 million Canadians live abroad, and there are many who will end up having children outside Canada. These are true Canadians. Some own big companies that are doing trade outside Canada. Some are diplomats. Others are journalists. For their grandchildren to be denied the right to be Canadian is totally unfair.

Would the member consider those kinds of amendments?

Also, if children are adopted and become citizens in Canada rather than come into Canada as landed immigrants, and they have kids outside Canada, their grandchildren also will not be Canadian. It is also a problem for adopted children, which is downright discrimination.

Would the member consider an amendment so that adopted kids would also be treated equally?

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Madam Speaker, with respect to the adopted children, taking the last question first, that would be an easy thing to do. If there are any other unintended consequences, we should deal with them. I would be very open to that. Obviously, one would have to persuade the whole committee to support that.

With respect to private business people who choose to do business abroad, they are in a different category altogether. They are not in the category of diplomats or Canadian armed personnel or others who are sent for government service by either the provinces or the federal government. It is not that they are not doing work, and it is not that it is not good for Canada. They are in an absolutely separate category. I would have to be convinced to support that. At this moment, I would say no. I do not think we should extend this privilege to people who choose to do business abroad. However, I have an open mind, and I would be happy to be persuaded.

Citizenship Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I just want to get some clarification on the end part of the mover's statement.

For us, the intent of this private member's bill is important. Going to committee obviously means that there will be some amendments made to the bill to move it back to the House for third reading. I really would like him to clarify that the intent of Bill C-37, which was enacted a couple of years ago, is something he supports and that this private member's bill actually gets at an area that we need to pay attention to and obviously make an addition to. That is the scope of his bill, and that is what he would like to have come to committee. It is based on nothing outside of that.