Canada’s New Citizenship Rule: A Win for Families

Last Updated: June 16, 2024By
Canada’s New Citizenship Rule: A Win for Families


A New Chance for Canadians Born Abroad

Canada is about to make a big change for people born outside its borders. Following a court decision, the government plans to restore the right for citizens born abroad to pass their citizenship to their children, even if those kids are also born outside Canada.

A Welcome Change

The federal government is set to update the Citizenship Act, undoing a rule from the past Conservative government. This old rule, called the “second-generation cut-off,” was found unconstitutional by an Ontario court last December. Marc Miller, the immigration minister, explained to reporters on Thursday, “We want to make sure that children born abroad are treated as fairly as possible compared to those born in Canada. Not everyone will qualify, but it has to be just for those who do.”

Why the Old Rule Was Unfair


Back in 2009, the Conservative government led by Stephen Harper changed the rules. They limited citizenship by descent to just one generation. This change came after Canada had spent $85 million to evacuate 15,000 citizens from Lebanon during the 2006 conflict with Israel. Conservatives at that time called some of these dual citizens “Canadians of convenience.”

Because of this rule, Canadians born abroad couldn’t pass their citizenship to their children if those kids were also born outside Canada. This created a problem, often referred to as a generation of “lost Canadians,” where many felt they were unfairly treated compared to those born in Canada.

New Bill Brings Hope

The new bill proposes that Canadians born abroad can pass on their citizenship if they have a strong connection to Canada. This can be shown by proving they have lived in Canada for at least three years. This “substantial connection” clause is meant to ease concerns from critics who worry that some immigrants only use Canadian citizenship for benefits without truly being part of the country.

Jenny Kwan, a member of parliament and immigration critic for the New Democratic Party, praised the new bill, saying, “Today is a historic day for lost Canadians and their families. This unfair law caused significant suffering, separated families, and left children stateless. It ignored that Canadians are global citizens who travel, study, work, fall in love, and have families abroad.”

Different Views on Citizenship

In a country with high immigration, citizenship is always a hot topic. Conservative MP Tom Kmiec, in a statement, criticized the current immigration system, saying, “The immigration system is falling apart. Common sense Conservatives will fix the system that the Liberals have broken.”

The Bigger Picture

Don Chapman, who has long fought for citizenship rights for children of Canadians abroad, said it’s not clear how many people will gain citizenship through this new bill. Chapman, who was born in Canada but moved to the U.S. as a child, coined the term “lost Canadians.” He believes many will qualify for citizenship, even if they don’t all move to Canada.

Interestingly, American actors like Gene Hackman, Shirley MacLaine, and Warren Beaty could potentially become Canadian citizens because of this bill. Chapman added, “Will they come? I don’t know. I doubt it. But they would have the right.”

This change is a big step forward for many families who have felt left out. It shows that Canada values its citizens, no matter where they are born, and aims to treat them fairly.

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