Saturday, 18 April 2009

New Citizenship Law Is A Step In The Right Direction.

A new citizenship law went into effect on April 17, 2009. You can read about it here at the Toronto Star. You can read a commentary about it here at the Globe and Mail (thanks to the heads up from a reader).

This is from the Star:

When Bill C-37, an amendment to the Citizenship Act, takes the full force of law today, the elder Wilkinson will join thousands of so-called "lost Canadians" who automatically have their citizenship restored.

Wilkinson and his two sisters are happily along for the ride.

"When I told my sisters about this, the first thing my sister asked was, `Does my son qualify?'" said Wilkinson.

The answer is no. Not at all coincidentally, Wilkinson and his siblings' new-found status also places them among an entirely new class of Canadians born abroad who cannot automatically pass along their Canadian citizenship to their kids.

A new two-generation rule – which ends the line of citizenship for children born outside Canada to Canadian parents who were also born abroad – was inserted as a sort of quid pro quo in Bill C-37.

This is from the Globe:

On April 17, a new law comes into effect changing the rules of citizenship. From that date on, when foreign-born Canadians have children born abroad, those children cannot inherit Canadian citizenship. Under the current rules, such children do receive citizenship and can retain it as adults - even if they've never stepped foot in this country - by showing knowledge of Canada and ability to speak English or French.

The new law stems from the 2006 removal of 15,000 Canadian citizens from war in Lebanon, many of whom subsequently returned there. At the time, Stephen Harper's government condemned so-called citizens of convenience who use citizenship as insurance against turmoil in their home countries. The new law ensures that only one generation of emigrant Canadians will gain such "conveniences" in the future.

It seems this is not the only citizenship reform afoot. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has recently made comments suggesting that further steps be taken to make citizenship more difficult to obtain.

At an event in Alberta last month, Mr. Kenney was asked about "birth tourists," who come to have their children in Canada so they can acquire citizenship. He said his department is considering how to prevent such people from abusing our generosity. He mentioned the estimated quarter of a million Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong and the 50,000 or more in Lebanon - and the current right of these citizens' great-grandchildren to become Canadian citizens - as further evidence of abuse. In another recent speech, Mr. Kenney suggested there be tighter enforcement of the existing rule that immigrants be able to speak an official language before being granted citizenship.

I think the law is reasonable and it increases the value of Canadian citizenship. The only ones complaining are from those with an ingrained sense of entitlement which the comments from the Globe commentary suggest.

To continue I don't believe every child born on Canadian soil should automatically be given Canadian citizenship. I think this right should be bestowed upon Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, and refugees whose status has been verified. If you are not a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant and if you are a refugee claimant (but not a verified refugee) then any children born to you while in Canada should not be given automatic citizenship.

I know this will raise complications concerning the status of the child so an effective solution would be for Canada to press the issue at the U.N. where the problem can be resolved by granting the child the citizenship of either both or one of the parents in such a situation.

2 comments:

Zeeshan Hamid said...

The new law is actually seriously messed up. Take my personal example. My wife is a Canadian, born to a Canadian who was born to a Canadian. My two sons were born while I worked in the United States for a few years. According to the new law, if they happen to have children while outside Canada, their children will *not* be Canadians.

The new law attempted to stop a loophole that some people exploited. However, in the process it created a worse scenario for many Canadians, my children included.

PaxCanadiana said...

No. The law is not seriously messed up just because you and your children may be inconvenienced by it.

I assume your children were born in the United States and thus have American citizenship. There are many people around the world who want what your children have by accident of birth. I don't see why your grand children should be entitled to Canadian citizenship just because your wife was "born to a Canadian who was born to a Canadian".