Our Canadian war dead deserve the honour of their citizenship

Largely a repeat of previous columns, with Chapman remaining in denial about Canadian soldiers being British subjects at the time. The distinct Canadian citizenship, versus British subjects resident in Canada, only became a legal reality upon the implementation of the first Canadian citizenship act in 1947:

Over the course of both world wars, 111,000 servicemen wearing Canadian uniforms gave their lives, their last full measure of devotion. Our government calls them Canadian heroes but not Canadian citizens. They’re embraced as British Subjects only.

That means the Brits fought all our infamous “Canadian” battles — from the Somme, Arras, and Vimy Ridge during the First World War, to Dieppe and D-Day in the Second.

This is an egregious rewrite of history, perpetrated by former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King — the force behind deliberate deceptions as to the origin of Canadian citizenship.

That means the Brits fought all our infamous ‘Canadian’ battles

In 1867 our first governor general announced, with pride, that Canada had just created a new nationality. Over time, often controversial legislation evolved further the definition of Canadian citizenship. In 1943 as a rallying cry to the soldiers heading into war, Ottawa published a booklet saying they were fighting as “citizens of Canada,” a widely accepted belief, both then and now. Numerous Supreme Court decisions upheld this as truth.

Nonetheless, like a magical sleight of hand, in January 1947, King had himself sworn in as Canada’s first-ever citizen. While historic nonsense, today’s government buys into it, thus refusing to accept our war dead.

This June 6, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, will we be honouring Canadian or British soldiers?

Canadians don’t seem to care — a stark contrast to our southern neighbours. If the U.S. rejected their war dead, Americans would be screaming — and rightly so. In Canada, the Lost Canadians organization is almost alone in embracing our heroes as also having been citizens.

During the Harper years we filed a petition asking the government to recognize them. The Conservatives refused. Next came the Trudeau government, responding similarly. Interesting how both sides publicly and eagerly embrace “our” soldiers, like on Remembrance Day or the 75th anniversary of D-Day, but behind the scenes with double-standard clarity, they snub with equal enthusiasm.

Don’t our Canadian heroes deserve better?

Mackenzie King’s racist and anti-Semitic ways are well documented. Catering to his base, he wanted to rid Canada of what they considered to be “undesirables.” Targeted were Asians, starting with Japanese-Canadians. In the mid-1940s Mackenzie King’s cabinet issued an Order in Council cancelling their citizenship. The Supreme Court upheld that Order in 1946, leading to 4,000 people first being stripped of their Canadian citizenship and their legal rights, then deported. Seven hundred were children born in Canada.

How can you cancel citizenship in 1946 if it didn’t exist till 1947? You can’t in law, but you can through grandstanding and creating false narratives.

To explain King’s about-face, it had everything to do with getting rid of the Japanese-Canadians. At the time, in 1946, the United Nations considered the deportation of one’s own citizens to be a “crime against humanity,” especially after what had just happened in Germany. To avoid running afoul of international opinion, King cancelled the citizenship of Japanese-Canadians. Almost 4,000, most of them born or naturalized Canadians, were sent to Japan. Almost immediately afterwards King had himself sworn in as “Canada’s first Canadian citizen.”

It was a lie then, and it’s a lie now. The problem is that for 72 years, Canada has denied citizenship to people born before 1947, saying it didn’t exist until then.

Lost Canadians has advocated for legislation to correct the pre-1947 citizenship anomalies. To date there have been seven bills correcting most of the citizenship problems. But not, as of yet, for those who gave their lives for Canada in the world wars.

This D-Day, who will you be honouring? Every Canadian prime minister should be proud to call Canada’s fallen heroes “citizens.” Whomever is buried in the Tomb of Canada’s Unknown Soldier should not be a foreigner.