An Act to amend the Citizenship Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Darrel Stinson  Canadian Alliance

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Dec. 12, 2002
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-343 under private members' business.

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

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

June 10th, 2003 / 6:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, will make it easier for lost Canadians to regain their Canadian citizenship, as they would no longer have to be established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

The bill deals with the resumption of citizenship for people who lost their Canadian citizenship as minors between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977, when the responsible parent ceased to be a Canadian by becoming a citizen of another country.

Let me remind hon. members that we are referring to people who were born in Canada and therefore by birthright are Canadian citizens. Bill C-18, the new citizenship legislation, proposes that the residency requirement be modified to give the applicant flexibility in the time available to meet the requirement, and that the applicant must be physically present in Canada for 365 days out of the two years preceding the application. This is the third attempt by the government to modernize the 1977 act. Changes to the Citizenship Act on February 15, 1977, such as allowing dual citizenship, were not retroactive to the already lost Canadians.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's press release on May 14 of this year stated “normal selection criteria for permanent residence will be waived for these individuals”. The press release went on to say that “an exemption from the medical inadmissibility requirement related to an excessive demand on the health care system be granted to these people”.

The point still remains that a minor child who was born in Canada, who was a Canadian citizen, who moved with the parent to another country between 1947 and 1977, and whose parent became a citizen of that other country, should not have lost his or her citizenship in the first place. It was the responsible parent who became a citizen of another country, not the child.

Lost Canadians still have to pay the same fees as others applying and have to reside in Canada for one year within the two year time frame. Why? They did not ask for, nor did they obtain citizenship in another country. Their parent did.

My Bill C-343 would correct an injustice that should have been resolved when the Citizenship and Immigration Act was replaced in 1977, which allowed dual citizenship. Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, dual citizenship allowed in 1977 was not retroactive. Bill C-343 would amend the existing act to recognize Canadian-born children who left this country between 1946 and 1977 as still being Canadians.

In conclusion, Bill C-343 should be incorporated into Bill C-18, the citizenship of Canada act, to correct historic wrongs and bring the 2003 act up to current morals and standards of what it means to be a Canadian.

Let us please pass this bill and finally welcome home our lost Canadians and allow them to reclaim the birthright they should not have lost as children through no fault of their own.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / noon
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about some very important changes that the government is proposing to the Citizenship Act and to speak to the private member's bill, Bill C-343, which was tabled by the member for Okanagan—Shuswap.

Our proposed Bill C-18 would give applicants, who want to resume their citizenship, flexibility in meeting the residence requirement. What is being proposed is that instead of being required to reside in Canada for a full year prior to application, as is the case in the current legislation, the applicant must be physically present in Canada for one out of the two years preceding application.

We in the governing party believe that it is very important to help people regain citizenship they have lost. From this perspective, we approve of the principles laid out in Bill C-343. They are the same as those found in the current Citizenship Act and in Bill C-18. It is perfectly natural that people who have lost their citizenship, especially if it happened when they were minors, would want to come back to our beautiful country and apply for citizenship. We have nothing against regaining citizenship; we support it. In fact, we believe that people who lost their citizenship when they were a minor and now want to demonstrate their commitment toward Canada by coming here and contributing to our society, should have the opportunity to regain their Canadian citizenship.

However, we cannot support the private member's bill before us today. It would require us to automatically grant citizenship, without taking into account the applicant's place of residence or commitment toward Canada.

Do members know what this would entail? Under Bill C-343, the government could be forced to grant citizenship to a person who left Canada at a young age and who has no intention of returning to live here. It could also force us to grant citizenship automatically, without taking into account whether or not someone has a criminal history, or the danger they could represent to public health here in Canada. And finally, Bill C-343 could require us to automatically grant citizenship to someone who may not have any other ties to Canada except for the circumstances of his or her birth.

I am pleased to report that our current and proposed legislation would allow us to carefully weigh commitment, health and security considerations while also facilitating the citizenship application process. Canada's current Citizenship Act allows former citizens to resume their Canadian citizenship. To qualify under the current Citizenship Act a person must demonstrate a commitment to Canada through residence. They must become a permanent resident under immigration law and must reside in Canada for one year immediately prior to making their citizenship application. Knowledge of Canada, the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and one official language, however, are not requirements for resumption as they are for a regular adult grant of citizenship. The period of residence is also less; one year as opposed to three. Therefore the requirements are not onerous.

Furthermore, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows flexibility for permanent residents to retain their status while travelling and working outside of Canada. The residence requirement may be difficult for a person who must travel out of Canada regularly for employment or business purposes. Most former Canadians wishing to resume citizenship, however, intend to live in Canada and do not encounter difficulty with the requirement to live here for one year. Where a person is required to be away from Canada frequently, the legislation gives that person flexibility by requiring that he or she be present in Canada for 365 days out of two years.

The procedures in place are perfectly fair, and the courts have already confirmed this. We do not discriminate against anyone. By continuing along the course we have already laid out, we are guaranteeing Canadians a citizenship program that is just, effective and fair for many years to come.

I would like to state that the changes or modifications that are being brought to the Canadian Citizenship Act under Bill C-18, as it pertains to re-acquiring Canadian citizenship for those who lost it, particularly as minors, I believe is equitable, is efficient and addresses the fact that these individuals may have lost citizenship through no fault of their own. Therefore, they will not be put to the same requirement as a foreign national who wishes to come to Canada as a permanent resident and then wishes to become a citizen.

The requirements are much less onerous, much more generous and flexible.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. This is the second incarnation of the bill, which unfortunately on its first introduction did not make the draw. I am grateful that due to the reform in the manner we treat and vote on private members' bills and to the assistance of my colleague, the member for Okanagan—Shuswap, the bill can now make it to the floor of the House for debate.

Reform of private members' business has been a long-standing initiative of the Canadian Alliance. We believe that giving more power to individual MPs in the development of legislation would make this institution much more vital and more democratic. Allowing for all private members' bills to be votable adds further impetus and meaning to the role of a member of Parliament, ending the lottery approach to getting a worthwhile and enlightened bill before the House.

Let me point out that Bill C-343:

is designed to remedy the situation where a person has, as a child, been deprived of their Canadian citizenship as a result of the operation of section 18 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Canada, 1946. That provision, which was in force until February 14, 1977, provided that a minor child ceased to be a Canadian citizen upon their responsible parent becoming the citizen of another country. This enactment makes it easier for such a person to regain their Canadian citizenship as they will no longer have to be established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

Further, if Bill C-18, introduced in the second session of the 37th Parliament and entitled Citizenship of Canada Act, receives royal assent, then section 19 of that act is amended by adding the following after subsection 19(2):

The requirements set out in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

Let me put the intent of the legislation in more fundamental terms. Between 1947 and 1977, thousands of Canadian families left Canada, often in the pursuit of jobs south of the border. In many cases the father had to become an American citizen to get the job. Unbeknownst to many of the families, under the immigration law Canada adopted in 1947, wives and children were considered the property of the fathers. When the fathers renounced their citizenship, their wives and families automatically lost theirs.

The law was changed in Canada in 1977 to recognize dual citizenship, but the new rights were not made retroactive to those who lost their citizenship between 1947 and 1977 through no fault of their own and through no conscious decision of their own. I see this as not only unfair but discriminatory.

A person born in Canada today has the right to citizenship for the rest of his or her life, but there are thousands of older people who are caught in this 1947 to 1977 trap who do not have that same right. I believe it is time to recognize the wrong and make it right. I want to correct this injustice and thus I first introduced the bill in early 2002.

The issue and the injustice were brought to my attention by an individual who spent 30 years struggling to have his Canadian citizenship re-established. In 1961, Don Chapman, a Canadian who was then seven years old, forfeited his Canadian citizenship because his family moved to Seattle and his father took out American citizenship. In 1972, Mr. Chapman began applying to have his Canadian citizenship returned. He was rejected. In 1977, he tried again, only to be turned down. Here we have an individual whose family lineage in Canada goes back to the Fathers of Confederation. In fact, his family goes back five generations in Canada.

Here we have an accomplished and successful individual of impeccable credentials who has purchased a home in my riding, where he would like to settle his family as Canadians, but is deprived of this right because he lost his citizenship prior to 1977 through no fault of his own. He has no criminal record and is even prepared to pay Canadian taxes; that should indicate how serious this man is about having his Canadian citizenship returned.

I would like to add today that I spoke to Mr. Chapman last night. He is an airline pilot. He has been flying 747s and has taken time off his regular job with United Airlines in the last number of weeks to fly into Kuwait, taking soldiers to the war. I wish to congratulate him for doing such a great job and for heroic efforts on behalf of the country he is a citizen of now, but also he wants to be a Canadian. I am very proud that a man like that would want to become a Canadian citizen again.

Mr. Chapman is not alone in this plight. Since I took on this injustice, I have had the opportunity to meet and assist another individual who, through an even more bizarre twist of circumstances and interpretation of our Canadian Citizenship Act, not only lost her citizenship but may not even be a citizen of any country at all. To make matters worse, her two sons find themselves in the same situation despite the fact she, her parents and her sons all live in Canada.

In January of this year, before committee hearings on Bill C-18, Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr provided moving and compelling testimony on the injustice perpetrated on her and others who lost their Canadian citizenship between 1947 and 1977.

Since 2001, Magali spent $20,000 of her own money on lawyers trying to remedy this wrong. Last June her case made it to judicial review but the judge ruled that more precise work had to be done by both sides and she sent them back to their respective sides to prepare further, which, of course, means more legal expenses for Magali. The entire situation is not only unfair, I believe it would even be ruled unconstitutional if it made it to the Supreme Court. It is a shame we are putting people, who are obviously Canadians, through this unnecessary process by asking them to go through the landed status route.

Officials suspect that there are thousands of others caught in the citizenship morass, including another individual, Mr. Charles Bosdet, whose case was also brought to my attention by Mr. Chapman. I worked on this file for five years and made representation to successive ministers of citizenship and immigration on behalf of the grieved parties. I am moved by the passion and desire of these Canadians to return home. It is their diligence in this cause and their love of this country that prompted my intervention and my private member's bill. I believe their case for re-establishment of their Canadian citizenship is legitimate.

In January, following Mr. Chapman's and Ms. Castro-Gyr's testimony before the citizenship committee, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration indicated to me that he was sympathetic to the situation of these individuals and that he would consider using his powers to restore their citizenship. I am grateful for this acknowledgement by the minister and thank him for his consideration of these cases on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. The minister talked to me last Thursday and mentioned that he will be bringing something to the committee, I hope in the next couple of weeks, that could solve this problem.

I appreciate, and I know all members of the House do that maybe, once and for all, we can solve this problem. I remember hearing the Tory Party and I think someone from the government side talking about security checks. We have no problems with that. Issues like that can be discussed at committee. However if the minister brings something to the committee that will solve the problem we will all appreciate it.

Each year Parliament dedicates a week to recognize Canadian citizenship and what it means to be a Canadian citizen. It allows us an opportunity to reflect upon the values of Canadian citizenship and its rights, privileges and responsibilities. During that week all Canadians are asked to reaffirm our commitment and loyalty to Canada. This year will mark the 56th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act. Since 1947 Canada has opened its arms to millions of immigrants and conferred citizenship on over 5 million people. Canada has recognized the talents and diversities these people bring to our nation. Last year's Canada week theme “We all Belong” is fitting testimony to the nature of our country and our people.

I believe the Don Chapmans, the Magali Castro-Gyrs, the Charles Bosdets and the thousands of others, who in my mind never really left the collective soul of this nation, also belong.

I thank all members of Parliament who have listened to this injustice at committee hearings and through the private members' process. We look forward to having a vote and moving this on to committee.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and speak in support of Bill C-343. I would like to thank the member for Okanagan—Shuswap for bringing this bill forward. I believe it was previously introduced by the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast.

It is an important and pertinent issue today. The citizenship and immigration committee is debating and holding hearings across the country on a new citizenship bill. It is timely that this should come forward.

I, along with millions of Canadians, was not aware of the lost generation, the lost Canadians. It was in February or early March when I attended the citizenship hearings in Vancouver on Bill C-18 that there were a number of representatives, including Mr. Chapman, who came forward. They provided information that I found quite astounding in terms of the individual situations that they had managed to track through their website. The committee was informed about the impact of the changes made back in 1997 that everyone seems to have forgotten about.

It is important that we are debating the bill today and voting on it because it is something that needs to be rectified.

When we think about citizenship, it is not something that can normally be revoked unless a person makes some decision to do that. Here we have a bizarre historical situation. If during the period 1947 to 1977 parents moved to another country for employment, and in many cases in Canada it was to the U.S., their Canadian citizenship ended. The member for the Bloc pointed out that there was no dual citizenship at the time. Lo and behold, in many cases children and spouses unknowingly lost their citizenship as well. This is what is most astounding about this historical situation that exists in our country.

It is bad enough that it existed for so long that people went to tremendous financial expense, but they invested a great deal of time and energy in an emotional sense trying to get some redress. When they found out that they were not Canadian citizens, often by accident, they would seek some relief and redress.

What I find even more disturbing is the fact that Bill C-18 addresses issues around citizenship but does not contain anything that would deal with this historical situation.

We would think that the minister and the department would put this somewhere near the top of their list for an amendment that would provide relief in a pragmatic way for the people this affects. There is nothing in Bill C-18 that would deal with this.

We have delegations coming forward telling us that they feel aggrieved. I do not blame them. They have totally legitimate cases.

In fact, let us look at Bill C-18 and what it is trying to do. In the hearings that have been held so far across the country there is near unanimous opposition to the provisions in the bill. It would take us further down the road of taking citizenship away from people and revoking citizenship in a way that there would be no fair judicial process nor appeal.

We are not correcting the situation. We are actually making it worse. Potentially, many people in this country, if the bill were to be approved and I hope it would not be, would face very arduous circumstances if they were facing allegations under a security risk and so on.

At the hearing in Vancouver we heard stories of a number of people, including Mr. Chapman, Keith Menzie, Ron Nixon, and George Kyle.

One story that I found amazing involved Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr who was a natural born Canadian of Canadian parents. She had a valid Canadian passport and a social insurance number. When she went to register her two foreign born children, she was informed that she would not be able to do that. She was informed that she herself was no longer a Canadian. This lady had sponsored her husband who was from Switzerland and the government accepted that. Now the government was telling her and her family that they were not Canadians. It is truly a bizarre situation.

In debating this at the Vancouver hearing the chair and others agreed that this was a ridiculous situation and indicated that officials would be brought in and so on.

Some people think the bill before us does not go far enough, but at least it is a step in the right direction. The government member who spoke to the bill this morning did not make any suggestions as to what could be done. There is an acknowledgement that between 1947 and 1977 there was a lost generation of Canadians who are now faced with the trauma of what happened to them, but nothing has come forward from the government side in terms of how this would be addressed, either through the citizenship act or this private member's bill. There was even a bit of criticism asking why the creator of the bill had not thought about this step or that step. If the government is acknowledging that a problem exists, then surely it has all the resources within the department to figure out how the heck it is going to fix it.

I must wonder and question the government's intent here. Debating the bill today would give us an opportunity to test where the government is at on this issue. If it were committed to redressing what took place to an unknown number of individuals, then it would be helpful to have some information indicating what would be done. We have not had that indication in committee or the House.

I am now the immigration critic for the NDP. I will continue to press this issue as will other opposition members. My predecessor in this portfolio, the member for Winnipeg North Centre, also supported the bill in its previous form. She spoke out very strongly on this issue. We will continue to do that because Canadians have a legitimate grievance here.

I urge members on the government side to listen to this debate and when it comes time to vote on the bill, to either vote for it as far as it goes or make it absolutely clear that measures will be taken within the department to rectify this wrong that has existed for many years. People should be removed from this difficult emotional and financial situation of wondering who the heck they are and wondering if they are or are not Canadians.

The NDP supports Bill C-343 and we encourage other members to support it as well.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:25 a.m.
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Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-343, which started out in February 2002 as Bill C-428.

This bill is intended to remedy a serious problem for those affected by it. The first Citizenship Act, in 1946, specified that a child of minor age automatically lost Canadian citizenship when the custodial parent became a national or citizen of another country. A child born here who would normally have Canadian citizenship lost it because his or her parents became nationals or citizens of another country.

It must be kept in mind that, prior to 1977, dual citizenship was not allowed. Now it is, and has been since 1977. However, when the 1946 legislation was amended, no measure was introduced to correct what might be termed an injustice to the children affected since 1946, because dual citizenship was possible from 1977 on.

The most that is in place in the 1977 legislation is a clause specifying that a person who once had Canadian citizenship may recover it once he or she has been admitted as a landed immigrant and resided in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. I would remind hon. members that we are referring here to people who were born with Canadian citizenship but lost it because of a decision by their parent or parents.

It is important to stress that citizenship by naturalization does not comprise exactly the same rights and privileges as that acquired by birth. A naturalized citizen can have his or her citizenship revoked, and can be declared inadmissible, while those born with citizenship cannot.

What I have just said is equally true for Bill C-18, which includes anti-terrorist clauses calling for the revocation of the citizenship of naturalized citizens through recourse to a judicial process including the use of secret evidence. There is no right of appeal and expulsion from the country is automatic.

How many people would be affected by Bill C-343? That is very hard to say. It is even harder to say whether all those affected would want to regain Canadian citizenship.

Some cases have come forward. For example, there is Don Chapman, who testified before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Mr. Chapman, who was born in Vancouver, Canada, found himself in this situation when his parents emigrated to the United States. Therefore, he lost his Canadian citizenship. All his adult life, he has wanted to become a Canadian citizen again.

He applied directly to the then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to ask for special treatment, but to no avail. All he was told was that he had to follow the pre-established rules requiring individuals to apply for permanent residence and live in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. However, Mr. Chapman's problem is that he is an airline pilot, which would, according to him, make it difficult for him to fulfill these requirements.

I would add that the current minister, when consulted about another case, answered that he was open to these individuals applying for their citizenship and that each case would be considered individually.

However, in my opinion, this case-by-case approach, which may be the result of good will, runs up against the reality, which is that files are piling up on the desk of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files pertain to various matters, such as visas, applications for permanent residence, and so forth. All the members have submitted files to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files have been accumulating exponentially on his desk since September 11.

I would like to state that the Bloc Quebecois became very aware of the need to change these provisions. In fact, during a trip to Australia, the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis—whom I will say hello to now, since she is recovering from a painful triple bypass—met a person from her riding who has to go through the same process as Mr. Chapman, which does not thrill him either.

Therefore, it was on the basis of information provided by the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis that we in the Bloc began our research to clarify the situation and look at the ways we could modify the law. That is why, after completing this research and after meeting Mr. Chapman herself, the member for Laval Centre proposed an amendment to Bill C-18 to address this problem.

The proposed amendment read as follows:

That the bill, in Clause 19, be amended by adding after line 10 page 13 the following:

And I shall read the exact wording proposed:

The requirements set out in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

It seems to me that this would provide retroactive justice to these children who, if they had remained in Canada, would be Canadian citizens. If their parents had acquired another citizenship after 1977, these people also would have been able to keep their Canadian citizenship.

I hope that the government will be sensitive to this need for retroactive justice.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:20 a.m.
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Brampton Centre Ontario

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my question, I do not think any person in the House or in the country would like to see individuals lose their citizenship because of things they did not do or did not even know about it. As the member mentioned, this was done from 1947 to 1967, before we changed the law to ensure this did not take place.

Bill C-343 addresses the issue but does not tell us how it would be overcome. As my colleague has said in answer to my question, he agrees with me that security checks and health requirements have to be complied with before we give citizenship back to individuals. Obviously the intent is good but we have to follow procedures. The hon. member mentioned two individuals who made presentations to committee. We all support the concept of giving back citizenship to them. However the issue is how to do it.

In 1947 those citizens left the country with their children and chose to revoke their citizenship on their own. The children of those parents automatically lost their citizenship. That was the case from 1947 to 1967. We changed the law and we cannot do that any more. Now the individuals must decide by themselves. If they were to revoke citizenship that would be their own choice. In some cases they can have dual citizenship, such as Canadian and American or Canadian and French, or any other nationality they wish, provided Canada has a bilateral agreement with that country.

As recently as this February, the federal court passed two judgments on the same issue, in the case of Avner Gordon and David Gordon and in the case of Henry Sieradzki. Both judgments confirm the fact that there must be a requirement for them to join their Canadian families without losing anything. Also the court decided the decision did not contradict any Canadian human rights and therefore complied with human rights regulations. That is why we asked these individuals to come forward and apply. Hopefully we can process them as soon as possible and give them back the citizenship they so richly deserve.

Bill C-18 would change the law so individuals would have to live in Canada for one year within a two year period to become citizens. Presently it is one in three. When I became a citizen in 1975, I had to be here five years to become citizen. I am happy things have been relaxed, which is good.

All we require from these individuals is for them to live here for a year to show that they are committed and that they care about Canada. There is no reason to doubt them but under the laws they have to show a commitment to Canada by living here for a year. Rather than the three year period, it would be a two year period and they could then get their citizenship as the law requires.

Bill C-343 would mean automatic citizenship for these individuals. As I said earlier, we agree with the principle. However I do not think it is right that it be given automatically. The hon. member himself said we have to have security checks.

We are lucky to live next door to the United States. It does not take too long to have security checks done, one or two weeks or maybe a month. The RCMP asks the proper authorities south of the border to check on a person. That is easy. However with some countries overseas, Europe, South America, Africa, whatever the case may be, it takes a long time. Sometimes it takes two years for security checks. That is why we are asking that they co-operate with us so security checks can be done and health requirements approved before we give citizenship.

This is not the final word. The minister agrees on the principle of this issue. The committee will discuss this in the next few weeks. I am hopeful we will come up with new solutions that will satisfy the hon. member and everybody in the House. However we have to follow the course and discuss this issue in committee, as the hon. member mentioned earlier.

I look forward to the debate and the input of everybody involved in this subject at the committee for citizenship and immigration.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

April 7th, 2003 / 11:05 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

moved that Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to be standing here this morning regarding this issue. I would like to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast for initiating this private member's bill, Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act.

I ask Canadians, especially the government, to listen carefully to what the bill is about because what I am about to disclose is an eye opener. It is an eye opener that may put into question whether an individual is truly a Canadian citizen because being born in Canada may not necessarily mean that one is a citizen.

We never question our birthright. We take it for granted. We assume that because we are born here we are automatically a Canadian citizen for life. This may not be the case for some, especially if they were born in Canada between 1946 and 1977, if their parents moved to another country and while in that other country became citizens of that country. This could happen to someone we know: a neighbour, a friend or a relative.

This private members bill, Bill C-343, would correct a wrong that should have been resolved when the Citizenship and Immigration Act, replaced in 1977, allowed dual citizenship, but the dual citizenship allowed in 1977 was not retroactive.

Let me go back to the provisions of the first Citizenship Act that was introduced in 1946. The 1946 first Citizenship Act meant that children born in Canada could lose their citizenship if their parents became citizens of another country. This private member's bill would amend the existing act to recognize Canadian born children who left the country between 1946 and 1977.

A person born in Canada today is a Canadian citizen for life but there are thousands of people who do not have this right. Why? It because these people, through no fault of their own, lost their Canadian citizenship. They are called “lost Canadians”. Not only have they lost their Canadian citizenship, the government has made these children stateless because at that time children did not automatically become U.S. citizens when their parents did.

Let me take a few minutes to outline the gist of this private member's bill. Bill C-343 is designed to remedy the situation where people were, as children, deprived of their Canadian citizenship as a result of the operation of “section 18 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 15 ofthe Statutes of Canada, 1946”. This provision was in force until February 14, 1977, and provided that a minor child ceased to be a Canadian citizen upon the responsible parent becoming the citizen of another country.

Bill C-343 would make it easier for those people to regain their Canadian citizenship as they would no longer have to be established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

Many do not meet the landed immigrant entry requirement which is required in order to be considered lawfully admitted. People like Mr. Don Chapman, a U.S. airline pilot, does not meet the resident requirement of one year to resume his citizenship because of the nature of his employment.

Bill C-343 makes reference to amending Section 11 of the Citizenship Act by adding the following after subsection 1(1):

The requirement set out in paragraph 1(d) does not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

Further, the Liberal bill, Bill C-18, introduced in the second session of the 37th Parliament entitled the citizenship of Canada act, fails to remedy the problem faced by lost Canadians.

Bill C-343 is about lost Canadians, Canadians like Don Chapman, who I mentioned earlier. Don is presently a pilot for a U.S. airline. He was born in Canada of Canadian parents. In 1961 he moved with his parents to Seattle. He was seven years old.

Mr. Chapman lost his rights as a Canadian because his parents swore allegiance to the United States. Mr. Chapman wants to return to his homeland where he was born, but Canada will not give him his citizenship back.

Federal immigration officials said that Mr. Chapman's parents had effectively forfeited his Canadian citizenship in 1961 when they moved to the U.S.A. and took out American citizenship. To me, this is ridiculous. Don Chapman did not apply for American citizenship. His parents did.

Another example is of Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr, a fourth generation Montreal Canadian born in 1959. Her mother is a Canadian citizen but her father became a U.S. citizen and, because of her father's actions, she was stripped of her Canadian citizenship. Did Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr know she was no longer a Canadian citizen? No, she did not.

She discovered she had lost her Canadian citizenship when in 2001 she applied for Canadian citizenship certificates for her two sons. She was informed by a Citizenship and Immigration official in October 2001 that she had ceased to be a Canadian citizen in 1975 when her father became a U.S. citizen.

Ms. Castro-Gyr is living in Canada. She has a Canadian passport. She has a social insurance number and she has a job as a teacher.

Some people, like Ms. Castro-Gyr, may not know they are not legally Canadians until they apply for a passport and are turned down.

There are many other lost Canadians, like Mr. Charles Bosdet who was born in Manitoba in 1956. His father became a Mexican citizen and, in 1965, his mother and father became U.S. citizens. Mr. Bosdet discovered that he was not a Canadian because his father became an American citizen. In fact, Mr. Bosdet is stateless.

There are many hundreds more Canadians who believe they are legally Canadian citizens but have actually lost their citizenship because of one or both of their parents moved and became citizens of another country.

I strongly urge that Canadians born in Canada between 1946 and 1977, whose parents became citizens of another country, to check their documents. They may discover they are no longer Canadians.

Under the 1947 Citizenship Act women were, in essence, property of their husbands and children were property of their fathers.

In Bill C-18, presently before the House, the government has addressed the women affected by the original Citizenship Act of 1947 saying that they should be allowed back into Canada as full-fledged citizens.

What about the lost Canadian children? Should our lost Canadian children not also be allowed full-fledged citizenship?

Let me restate that Bill C-343 is exclusive to those individuals who fall within the parameters of losing their citizenship through no fault of their own, as a consequence of their parents taking out citizenship in another country. These lost Canadians did not voluntarily choose to be citizens of another country. Their parents did.

We should adopt this private member's bill, Bill C-343, and welcome our lost Canadians home.

As stated earlier, the 1977 Citizenship Act which replaced the 1947 act allowed for dual citizenship but was not retroactive. Those Canadian children lost their citizenship under the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act, an act that came into force from January 1, 1947 to February 14, 1977.

The act stated:

Where the responsible parent of a minor child ceases to be a Canadian citizen under section 15, 16 or 17, the child thereupon ceases to be a Canadian citizen if he is or thereupon becomes, under the law of any country other than Canada, a national or citizen of that country.

Bill C-343 would allow these individuals, in most cases children who lost their Canadian citizenship between the years 1946 and 1977 as a consequence of their parents acquiring another country's citizenship, to have their Canadian citizenship reinstated if desired.

I will wind up as I know many members in the House want to speak to this issue. Bill C-343 should be incorporated into Bill C-18, the Citizenship and Immigration Act to correct historic wrongs and bring the 2003 act up to current morals and standards of what it means to be Canadian.

Let us pass this bill and finally welcome home our lost Canadians. Allow them to reclaim the birthright they lost as a child. As the Canadian Alliance citizenship and immigration senior critic from Calgary West stated in Halifax on February 10, “citizenship should not be stripped from anyone except by their own decision or by their own actions”.

This private member's bill is to correct a wrong that should have been resolved in 1977. I ask the House to support this private member's bill, Bill C-343, so this wrong can be corrected and allow our lost Canadians to finally come home.

Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

First, is there agreement to allow Bill C-343 to be switched?

Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two items. Bill C-343 is standing in my name and I would like to change that to the member for Okanagan—Shuswap.

Citizenship ActRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2002 / 10:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce my private member's bill, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. My bill is designed to remedy an injustice in the Canadian Citizenship Act, whereby Canadian children whose parents took out United States citizenship between 1946 and 1977 automatically lost their Canadian citizenship through no conscious decision of their own.

Regrettably, amendments to the Citizenship Act of 1977 did not make these the citizenship of these individuals retroactive. My bill would make it possible for these individuals to regain their Canadian citizenship without being established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)