Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the issue of citizenship arouses passion among members of the House. Citizenship is something very emotional. It is not just an intellectual exercise. It is something that is very much a part of our being. Certainly, in my case it has taken me on very interesting journeys.
As was mentioned by the critic for the New Democratic Party, I had the privilege of tabling a bill in the House today on the issue of a new citizenship act. We had great cooperation from members of all parties, the Conservatives, the Bloc, the New Democrats and members of my party.
Some of the comments I made this morning are very pertinent to this debate. One of my comments was that citizenship should be seen as a right for those who qualify rather than a privilege. We are talking about a right.
When it came to the issue of the lost Canadians, the committee was very strong in its recommendation. It recommended that any persons born in Canada who lost their Canadian citizenship as a child because their parent acquired a nationality of another country should be eligible to resume their citizenship without first becoming a permanent resident or without having to meet a residency requirement. The committee said that because what happened in a historical perspective was simply wrong.
It was mentioned before that what we are trying to do is to right a wrong. I am so gratified to see the near unanimous support that this concept has.
The bill was debated in the Senate and was passed twice unanimously by all the senators. The majority of members in the Senate are Liberals and yet the bill passed twice unanimously.
In previous studies of the Citizenship Act a number of proposed citizenship amendments failed: Bill C-63, Bill C-16 and Bill C-18. We heard testimony continually on those three bills and the feeling in committee in all cases was that this issue should be addressed.
I can give a fairly simple example to show how ridiculous the bill was. We have persons who were born in Canada between 1945 and 1977. If they were a minor and their father took out citizenship in another country these people automatically lost their citizenship.
I came to Canada in 1957. My wife had our daughter in 1986. Given the year my daughter was born, had I left the country after having become a Canadian citizen and gone elsewhere, let us say Hungary, she would be a Canadian citizen without having to have set one foot into Canada. Furthermore, my grandchild would also be a Canadian citizen.
Surely we can understand the frustrations of the lost Canadians. Surely we can understand their passion for wanting their citizenship back. Surely we can understand the feeling Canadians have that we want to right a wrong.
It was mentioned that Mr. Don Chapman put his case forward to the committee time and time again. He sought every opportunity to do that because he is very passionately a Canadian, never ceased to be a Canadian and still considers himself a Canadian. What we want to do is right that wrong. Charles Bosdet is in the same kind of situation of having his citizenship unjustly taken away from him and wanting it back.
However something good is on the horizon. The report that we tabled in the House was done at the request of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It was done so we could produce a new citizenship act that would get through the House of Commons. I commend the minister for asking for the committee's input. The committee was very strong on a number of issues but none stronger than on the issue of lost Canadians. The message is very clear. We want this fixed and we want to fix it quickly.
The minister has said that she will bring the bill back to us some time in February of next year and we as a committee look forward to making sure that the injustices that exist in the current act will be addressed.
I want to salute my colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast who I saw at the committee many times. Even though we are on different political parties, we are all on the same side of the issue when it comes to Canadian citizenship.