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A look at the complex evolution of Canada's citizenship laws over the years

Jim McLellan, who is in the terminal stage of cancer, poses in the front porch of his home in Wolfville, N.S. on Saturday, September 10, 2016. McLellan has experienced firsthand the sometimes tragic fallout of Canada's idiosyncratic citizenship laws.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
September 18, 2016 - 11:22 AM

VANCOUVER - A British Columbia woman is speaking out after discovering she's been ensnared by an obscure law that automatically revokes the citizenship of second-generation Canadians that were born abroad. Legal experts say the law is unfair and agree that the country's citizenship laws are convoluted.

Here is a timeline of the most significant milestones in the snakes and ladders of Canada's citizenship legislation over the decades:

Naturalization Act (May 22, 1868): Prior to 1947, anyone born in Canada was technically considered a British subject.

Canadian Citizenship Act (Jan. 1, 1947): Canadian citizenship is legally created, along with special recognition for British subjects. Requirements are introduced for anyone born outside the country to a Canadian parent in order for them to retain their citizenship.

Citizenship Act (Feb. 15, 1977): Dual citizenship is recognized and British subjects lose special status. The act also introduces the 28-year rule, requiring that Canadians born abroad to Canadian parents who themselves were born abroad take special measures to retain their citizenship before the age of 28.

Bill C-14 (Dec. 23, 2007): Children born outside the country to Canadian parents, as well as adopted children, are allowed to bypass permanent resident status and become Canadian citizens directly.

Bill C-37 (April 17, 2009): The law offers retroactive citizenship to many of the so-called lost Canadians who had been either denied or never offered citizenship because of quirks in earlier legislation, including war brides and children born to soldiers or bureaucrats posted abroad. It also does away with the 1977 rule requiring second-generation Canadians born abroad to apply to retain their citizenship by the age of 28.

Bill C-24: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (June 11, 2015): The act automatically extends citizenship to other lost Canadian groups born prior to 1947 who were excluded in the previous legislative changes, as well as to any of their children born outside Canada. It also empowers the government to revoke the Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of serious offences, including terrorism.

Bill C-6 (Currently before parliament): The bill proposes to loosen requirements on immigration, including language requirements and how time spent living in Canada is counted. It also reverses Bill C-24's provision for removing citizenship in cases such as terrorism convictions against dual citizens.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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