‘If we are not Canadian, what are we?’ How a 2009 law is leaving some children stateless

Not unexpected but the Act does have a provision to address statelessness. Would be interesting to have the data on the extent of its its application rather than just highlighting individual cases (which highlight issues).

The previous retention provisions were hard to administer consistently and fairly (“substantial connection” not as simple as it sounds), and there are advantages to clarity provided by the first generation limit.

From a policy perspective, the focus was on providing equal treatment for those born in Canada and immigrants who became naturalized Canadians.

And ironic that some expatriate Canadians complain about having to pay for healthcare should they return to Canada to give birth to “restart the clock” when more than a few thousand foreign women do so as “birth tourists.”

But a useful reminder that expatriates need to consider citizenship implications more closely when planning to have children.

After numerous failed attempts to conceive a child, including a lost pregnancy through in vitro fertilization, Emma Kenyon and her husband were grateful and thrilled for the arrival of their first baby.

On Dec. 5, healthy six-pound, two-ounce Darcy was born at a public hospital in Hong Kong. However, a bureaucratic nightmare for his Canadian expatriate parents has just begun.

As new parents, the nursing mother and her husband, Daniel Warelis — both foreign-born Canadian citizens who grew up in Greater Toronto — must fight to find a way to bring their stateless child home.

“I don’t think any country, especially a country like Canada, should allow little babies to be born stateless to Canadian citizens. It’s a travesty,” said Kenyon, 35, who was born in Tokyo while her father was working there for the Bank of Nova Scotia.

“The most important thing for us is that Darcy is not stateless as soon as possible.”

This week, the couple joined five other Canadian families to launch a Charter challenge against a rule in Canada’s citizenship act that denies the transmission of citizenship by descent to these foreign-born kids if both their Canadian parents also happened to be born overseas.

The previous Conservative government changed the law in 2009 and imposed the so-called “second generation” cut-off against Canadians born abroad after Ottawa’s massive effort to evacuate 15,000 Lebanese Canadians stranded in Beirut during a month-long war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.

The $85 million price tag of the evacuation effort sparked a debate over “Canadians of convenience” about individuals with Canadian citizenship who live permanently outside of Canada without “substantive ties” to Canada but were part of the government liability.

Source: ‘If we are not Canadian, what are we?’ How a 2009 law is leaving some children stateless

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.

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