Birthright Citizenship: Plurality of Canadians see it as good policy, but also say some changes are needed


I was really pleased to see this detailed Angus Reid survey on attitudes towards birth tourism. Timing perfect as will be discussing birthright citizenship with Audrey Macklin next week at Metropolis (see my deck Birth Tourism – Metropolis 2019).

Appears by the efforts by activists like Kerry Starchuck, Richmond area MPs Alice Wong and Joe Peschisolido, my health financial data-based research (Hospital stats show birth tourism rising in major cities) and the related media coverage helped encourage the government to take the issue more seriously in its commitment to study the issue and, I suspect, encourage Angus Reid to conduct this study.

The poll has breakdowns for region, gender, age, income, education, and political orientation but not, curiously, for immigrant/non-immigrant.

Most of the differences of opinion reflect overall difference of opinion on immigration and citizenship issues: younger, female, more educated and those with higher tend to be more supportive, whereas the opposite is true with respect to older persons, males, less education and lower income.

The political orientation divide is the most striking with the biggest surprise to me is the relatively high support (one-third) among Liberal and NDP leaning voters to support birthright citizenship for those on tourist visas, the classic example and practice.

Hard to explain are Conservative leaning voters who make greater distinctions between situations of both parents being citizens or permanent residents and those when only one parent is a citizen or permanent resident.

The breakdown into eight different scenarios is both helpful in its providing a more nuanced understanding of attitudes but, of course, would complicate any possible policy measures being considered beyond a citizen/permanent resident non-citizen/temporary resident distinction:

Which babies born on Canadian soil should be granted automatic citizenship?

It’s a question that has appended itself to the Canadian political and policy narrative in this election year; and one on which Canadians share some areas of consensus and others of deep division, according to a new public opinion poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute.

Today, most Canadians feel this concept – that anyone born in Canada is a citizen – goes a bit too far. Almost two-thirds (64%) say a child born to parents who are in this country on tourist visas should not be granted Canadian citizenship, and six-in-ten (60%) say changes to Canada’s citizenship laws are necessary to discourage birth tourism.

That said, more Canadians are inclined to believe birthright citizenship is a good policy (40%) than a bad one (33%).

More Key Findings:

  • Canadian opinions of when to grant citizenship are nuanced, changing with various scenarios offered. For example, 55 per cent say a child born to two parents in Canada on work visas should be conferred citizenship. This drops to 40 per cent if both parents are in Canada on student visas.
  • Canadians considering the Conservative Party in the coming election, as well as older residents (those ages 55-plus), are inclined to say that birth tourism is serious problem for Canada. Those considering the Liberal and New Democratic Parties – and those under 35 years of age – are more likely to say the problem is not serious.
  • In the same vein, while three-quarters of Canadians in the Conservative political sphere* say changes are birthright citizenship are necessary, majorities from the Liberal and NDP spheres disagree, and say no changes are needed

Source: Birthright Citizenship: Plurality of Canadians see it as good policy, but also say some changes are needed

Full report: Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to Birthright Citizenship: Plurality of Canadians see it as good policy, but also say some changes are needed

  1. Robert Addington says:

    People born in Canada, or born abroad (in the first generation) to a Canadian parent, are not ‘granted’ citizenship. They acquire it by right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: