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Canada's Citizenship Week marred by ignorance and injustice

Canada’s Citizenship Week, October 17th through the 23rd, 2011, is intended to encourage all Canadians to reflect on the value of citizenship. –Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

Sometimes governments do stupid things, not just everyday government stupid things, I mean shamefully over-the-top, Richard Nixon Watergate stupid things.  And when it happens, people need to know.  So get ready to roll your eyes, shake your head in disbelief, and wonder, just when you think the government can’t get any more out of touch with Canadians, here goes another foray into the wacky world of Ottawa politicians and bureaucrats. 

A judicial review is about to be filed in Federal Court in Vancouver that has absolutely enormous ramifications for Canadians.  The problem is, the Ottawa politicians are either too ignorant of the laws, or they truly don’t give a damn.  It’s probably a combination of both. 

Hard to believe, but this case is all about the government denying citizenship to about 10 WWII war bride children, only because they were born out-of wedlock.  It matters not that these people have been in Canada for over a half a century, nor does it matter that one person is retired from the Canadian Navy and another is a registered status Indian-  what matters to Citizenship and Immigration Canada is they were all “Bastard children.”  I call them Lost Canadians, because that’s what they are:  lost in a stifling bureaucracy of a government that just doesn’t care.

This is the second time Lost Canadians have been to court over this issue.  When we won, the government admitted in the House of Commons the cost to the taxpayer would be in the "tens of billions."  How does a decision granting citizenship to one individual end up being so incredibly expensive to the taxpayer?  It’s the collateral judgement.  The court mandated the government get rid of their discriminatory laws retroactively.  This meant dozens of governmental departments, dozens of agencies, and dozens of laws would all have to be changed. 

According to the then Conservative Citizenship Minister, Monte Solberg, those modifications could cost at least $600 for every Canadian man, woman, and child on the planet!

The government appealed and won in Federal Appeals Court.  But the rational of the higher court was that while the plaintiff, Joe Taylor, had been a citizen, he lost his status because he wasn't domiciled in Canada on his 24th birthday.  Immediately the government offered Taylor his citizenship and the problem was solved.  Or was it?

For any rational human being it should have been.  But then our government, our politicians, and the bureaucrats aren’t always rational.  You’d think for any remaining “Bastard” children out there like Taylor, the government would be anxious to recognize their citizenship.  At the very least you’d think the government would never again willingly gamble “tens of billions,” over the exact same issue, especially when nine of the ten people about to go to court were not only living in Canada on their 24th birthday, but their parents later married.  You’d think.

But this is Ottawa, where logic and politics are often like oil and water. 

So again, at great taxpayer expense, Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney is about to flagrantly gamble, in Vegas terms, by betting the family home to win a penny.  Seriously, it doesn’t get much dumber.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

Tens of thousands of other elderly Canadians could be stripped of their citizenship, not because they were born out-of wedlock, but because they were born in wedlock.  To win, the government must argue the pre-1947 laws were justified, meaning kids born in wedlock were property of their fathers while children born out-of wedlock were property of their mothers.  If the respective father or mother wasn’t Canadian, then neither was the child, despite the other parent being Canadian, and despite the child having been born in Canada. 

That’s the logic, or illogic, of the government’s argument against the ten people about to go to court- that they were all chattel of their War Bride mothers.  The government doesn’t care that their mothers were later recognized as being Canadian citizens, as were their fathers. 

It’s just so stupid, not to mention it violates the Charter.  And it’s just so, so, un-Canadian.

There must be at least twenty billion other ways to better spend twenty billion- starting with jobs or health care.   

Fairness, compassion, human rights?  It just doesn’t seem to be Mr. Kenney’s style, nor apparently his Canadian values.  Get your wallets ready and stay tuned.


Don Chapman is the leader of the Lost Canadians, the group behind two Bills in Parliament which restored citizenship for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Canadians- most not even aware that they had lost their status.  A handful of people still remain disenfranchised.

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