Madam Speaker, I am speaking today about Bill C-467 because I believe that it will correct a legislative error.
When the Citizenship Act was amended in 2008 through Bill C-37, the principle of restricting the transmission of citizenship by descent was included to ensure that Canadian citizenship was not passed on in perpetuity.
But in wanting to create an exception to restricting the transmission of citizenship for our military and officials who are overseas on a mission, we complicated matters. We created an exception to the citizenship exception that had just been passed. The goal was to maintain privileges for our citizens who have children overseas. However, as is often the case when a law is created or amended, unanticipated problems or gaps surfaced in the legislation.
Bill C-467 would remove the exception to the exception that was created and propose a new category of citizens in order to make the Citizenship Act fairer.
The law, in its present form allows our military and officials, who were themselves born abroad, to transmit their citizenship to any children they have when they are on a mission. However, rather than being considered citizens in good standing as though they were born here, these children have the status of Canadians born abroad, which does not allow them, in turn, to transmit their citizenship.
Bill C-467 would make these children full-fledged citizens with the same rights and privileges as the children of the military and officials born here and posted here.
When the government amended the Citizenship Act to restrict the transmission of citizenship, it maintained that the provision would ensure that Canadian citizenship is not transmitted indefinitely to individuals who have no ties to Canada. Although I believe that there should be nuances in this rule, I agree with the general principle.
Given the employee-employer relationship of these two parties, it is obvious to me that, for this category of citizens, their right to citizenship does not have to be proven because it is explicit. Consequently, their children should be considered as though they were born here—even if they were born abroad—just like children adopted from abroad, who now have this recognition.
That is exactly what the member for Vancouver South wants to achieve with this bill.
Here is a simple example to illustrate what I am talking about. I was born in Vietnam and adopted in 1974. I now have a Quebec birth certificate, which is my legal identification in Quebec. However, when I renew my passport, I have to send my Canadian citizenship card, not my Quebec birth certificate, as do all people born in Quebec.
I was adopted in 1974, long before the law was changed to allow children adopted from other countries to obtain citizenship upon arriving in Canada. If I were a member of the armed forces, any grandchildren of mine born abroad would be stateless. That situation is unacceptable.
In this case, my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, has five children, including one born abroad when he was Quebec's delegate general in Japan. That child will not have the same status as his four children born here.
This is an example that illustrates the need for this bill. The current citizenship criteria, which are essentially based on birthplace, seem to me to be outdated in these cases, just like the discrimination against parents who adopted children abroad in my time. The flaws in the system should be corrected by the bill my colleague has introduced.
With globalization and international labour mobility, more and more government employees, members of the military and other people will be going abroad to work.
Moreover, the Bloc Québécois has long been calling on the government to introduce exit controls for non-citizens, but the Conservatives have consistently refused. They recognize the problem, but refuse to take action.
Clearly, Bill C-467 does not correct the whole problem, because it only focuses on government employees. I feel we are going to have to take a much broader approach and review the principle of restricting transmission of citizenship by descent.
We support this amendment, but I want to say that this bill will not completely fix the flaw in the current Citizenship Act.
However, it does give vital recognition to people working for the government abroad.