• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Canada restores citizenship rights to “lost Canadians”

Canada restores citizenship rights to “lost Canadians”

The government of Canada has announced a significant policy shift to restore the rights of “lost Canadians” by permitting Canadians born abroad to pass down citizenship to their children, even if they were also born outside the country.

This move reverses the controversial “second-generation cut-off rule” implemented by the Conservative government in 2009.

Marc Miller, Canada’s Immigration Minister introduced the new legislation on Thursday, emphasising the value of Canadian citizenship globally.

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“There’s no doubt that Canadian citizenship is highly valued and recognized around the world,” Miller stated. “Not everyone is entitled to it. But for those who are, it needs to be fair.”

Under the proposed changes, Canadian parents must demonstrate they have resided in Canada for at least three years before the birth or adoption of their child to be eligible for passing down citizenship.

Miller described this requirement as a “reasonable limit to what is a substantial connection to Canada,” contrasting it with the previous policy, which he called “unreasonable.”

The push for legislative change follows a December ruling by an Ontario court that found the “second-generation cut-off rule” unconstitutional and disproportionately impactful on women. The court mandated the Trudeau government to amend the law by June 19.

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Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic, who collaborated in drafting the legislation, highlighted the personal toll of the old law. “I’ve talked to family members who’ve been separated from their loved ones because of this unjust law that Conservatives brought in 15 years ago,” Kwan remarked during the announcement.

Don Chapman, an advocate for “lost Canadians” and a person who had to reapply for his Canadian citizenship, hailed the proposed legislation as “momentous.” Chapman noted, “This bill will be the first time in Canadian history that women achieve the same rights as men in the Citizenship Act.”

The 2009 amendment, introduced by Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister, aimed to curb the number of “Canadians of convenience” by removing the automatic right to citizenship for children of Canadians born overseas.
This policy change was a reaction to the backlash over the $85 million cost of evacuating Canadian citizens from Lebanon during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Daniel Béland, a political science professor at McGill University, pointed out the dual nature of the issue.

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“Canadians living abroad sometimes can be a burden for the government in the sense that if we need to evacuate them during an armed conflict, or if they come back to the country to seek healthcare and so forth,” he said.

“But they are also a potential source of economic prosperity because we know that diasporas all over the world play a major role in national economies.”

While the immigration minister could not provide an estimate of how many citizens would be added under the new law, he asserted that the 2009 legislation was “manifestly unfair.”

Tom Kmiec, a conservative immigration critic responded to Miller’s comments by calling them “disingenuous” and criticized the Trudeau government’s overall handling of immigration.

“Justin Trudeau has broken our immigration system and allowed fraud, chaos, and delays to run rampant,” Kmiec said in a statement to Global News.

The proposed legislation represents a significant shift in Canadian immigration policy, aiming to rectify past injustices and ensure a fairer process for all Canadians.