Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently tabled a new bill to modernize the country's citizenship laws. New legislation will retroactively restore citizenship to the tens of thousands who lost, or never had Canadian citizenship because of several obscure clauses in existing legislation.
"I want to express my support for all those who have had their citizenship questioned due to outdated laws that have been on the books for many years," explained Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada when announcing the amendments to existing citizenship laws. "I am proud to introduce comprehensive legislation on this issue. Our government is taking action to fix past citizenship problems, to recognize Canadian citizens and to protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future."
Canada's first Citizenship Act was established in 1947 and was later replaced in 1977. Several little-known particularities in the Act are responsible for the tens of thousands of 'Lost Canadians' who had their citizenship denied or unknowingly allowed to expire. Some of these people are children of Canadian parents but who were born abroad; or they are children born in Canada but whose parents later became citizens of another country. Another significant portion of these 'Lost Canadians' are foreign-born family members of Second World War veterans, granted citizenship when they moved to Canada after the war, but were unaware of the little-known clause requiring them to reaffirm their citizenship later in life.
The proposed legislation would restore citizenship to anyone born in Canada or who became a Canadian citizen on or after January 1, 1947, and then lost their citizenship. This includes war brides who have not yet become Canadian citizens. It also includes those born in Canada prior to 1947, who became citizens when the first Citizenship Act took effect. It does not, however, include those born in Canada to foreign diplomats. Those who were born abroad to Canadian parents on or after January 1, 1947, will be recognized as Canadian citizens from birth, on condition that they are the first generation born abroad. Other exceptions are those whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud and those who renounced their citizenship.
"We are proposing a broad and generous legislative solution that will eliminate complex bureaucratic processes and give people the citizenship status they deserve," explained Minister Finley. She stated that the proposed legislation should take care of 95 per cent of the cases of lost citizenship and that the others will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.