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30th anniversary of the Charter, but Lost Canadians can't celebrate

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Charter, the fourth anniversary of the unanimous passage of Bill C-37, and the third anniversary of C-37’s effective date. 

What is Bill C-37?

It’s better known as the Lost Canadian Bill, restoring citizenship to somewhere between 750,000 and one-million people. Yet on this day, the Lost Canadians cannot celebrate. Why? Because the Harper government knowingly left out five per cent of the Lost Canadians. It’s not much different than the Captain of the Costa Concordia being looked at as a hero when only 95 per cent of his passengers survived.

The 1947 Citizenship Act was a product of its time, so in the 60-plus years since it came into force, each and every one of our political parties has been grossly negligent for allowing its blatant discriminatory ways to continue. No party has clean hands. Our latest Citizenship Act, the one that currently defines us as Canadians, became effective in 1977- but the Charter didn’t come into force until 1982. 

Hence, the citizenship laws as enforced in Canada today don’t exactly conform to the Charter, which means our government still gets away with denying people citizenship only because of one’s age, gender and family status (whether you were born in or out of wedlock).       

To be fair, the Conservatives championed Bill C-37- the Liberals very much opposed it.  While individual members of the other parties supported C-37, their leaders –Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc and Jack Layton of the NDP– never once opened their mouths in favour of the Lost Canadians. That was then-this is now.

Where do the MP’s stand today?

All five parties in the House of Commons–the Conservatives, NDP, Liberals, Block and Green, all who supposedly represent Canadians and have vowed to uphold our Charter, remain silent regarding the people who have lived, worked, gone to school, paid, taxes, had their own children in Canada, and all their lives believed themselves to be Canadian citizens, who are now being told to get lost. Not a single word of support.

Think about it. The true measure of the Charter’s strength is its effectiveness.  While our MP’s all seem eager to talk about the greatness of the Charter, very few have actually come forward to defend the Lost Canadians who remain disenfranchised.  That silence speaks volumes about their character.

On a side note, last week marked the 95th anniversary of the Canadian battle at Vimy Ridge. 3,598 Canadian soldiers died taking Vimy. In total, during the two World Wars, 112,000 Canadian soldiers died fighting for our rights.

Yet today, the Harper government has decided citizenship didn’t exist prior to 1947, which means that all of these fine soldiers died not as Canadians, but rather as British Subjects. It’s total and complete revisionist history. Think of that, especially today as the politicians make wonderful speeches regarding the 30th anniversary of our Charter. 

Regrettably, discrimination is alive and well-in fact thriving in Canada, and instead of defending equal rights for all Canadians, our MP’s and their respective party leaders are silent when some of our fellow Canadians are being told they don’t belong.

Thirty years to the day in which our Charter came into existence, Canada as a country which supposedly respects equality of rights for all its people, has yet to come of age.

The five per cent of Lost Canadians who remain disenfranchised deserve better. They deserve a political voice of support.  Shame on our politicians for their silence. 

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