This Article is part of the Lost Canadians special report See the full report

Government violates charter by denying citizenship to Lost Canadians, says Don Chapman

In our ongoing coverage of the Lost Canadians' story, VO brings you an op-ed by Don Chapman, advocate for Lost Canadians, and Canada's most irritating activist.

Chapman, whose own battle with Canadian citizenship laws has been documented by VO, runs a website devoted to raising awareness of the plight of the so-called Lost Canadians. He was the first to use the term to describe people who have been denied Canadian citizenship through archaic and sexist laws. Bill C-37 corrected some of the these legal barriers last year, but the case of Rachel Chandler demonstrates that substantial hurdles remain.

During Thursday's Question Period in the House of Commons, Justin Trudeau, official opposition critic for Youth, Citizenship and Immigration, is set to question the government about the Lost Canadians.

Tune in at 3 pm Pacific to hear a repeat broadcast of Chapman on In Discussion with David Gibbons along with Jackie Scott, Jan Makins & Ian Munro.

But first, read what Chapman has to say to Stephen Harper:

What part of equal does this government not understand?  Guaranteed under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms is section 15 which states, "Every person is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination."  If the government only followed the law there wouldn't be an issue.  If only.

So despite the Charter, despite a unanimous Supreme Court decision upholding equality of rights for women (Benner vs. Canada, 1997), this government still refuses to give women equal rights under the law, specifically having to do with citizenship.  Here's the history:  Our first form of unique "Canadian" identity went into effect in 1868, just one year after Confederation.  The exact words being, "married women, minors, lunatics and idiots" were considered under the same "disability" for their national status.  Hard to believe that 142 years later in the year 2010 the equality battle still rages on. 

Why?  Because Canada's citizenship act, the legislation currently in place giving each one of us our right of belonging in this country, pre-dates the Charter by five years.  It allows discrimination, gender inequality, as well as various classes of citizenship.

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