Passport applicants find they're not Canadian


marygaspe
#1
CALGARY (CBC) - Hundreds of people are suddenly discovering that they are not Canadians as new laws requiring travellers to have a passport to fly to the U.S. go into effect Tuesday, CBC's investigative unit has learned.
Many applying for a Canadian passport have been informed their chance to remain a citizen expired years ago because of an obscure provision in the Citizenship Act, a little-known law that applied between 1947 and 1977.

The law states that if you lived outside Canada on your 24th birthday and failed to sign the right form, you automatically lost your citizenship.

Barbara Porteous applied for a passport last year and was told in a letter from Citizenship and Immigration that she would have to apply to become a landed immigrant after spending most of her 70 years in Canada.

"These documents confirm you were a Canadian citizen, but you ceased being a Canadian citizen on June 14, 1960, the day following your 24th birthday," the letter read.

A Canadian born in the U.S. to a Canadian father, Porteous has lived in Osoyoos, B.C., for the last 46 years and even worked as a returning officer for Elections Canada.

"I cried for a couple of hours," Porteous told CBC News. "I mean, the hollowness you get inside when you find out that everything you live for is gone."

Porteous is part of a group known as the Lost Canadians. According to Canadian census data, there are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people in Canada who could find out they've lost their citizenship if they apply for a passport.

Porteous said her life could be ruined by a technicality she was never told about.

"Well, this is my fear, because I've been getting my pension for five years. Do they want it back with interest? Does my medical go out the window, too? I'm 70 years old."

'They took my birthright away'

Don Chapman of Gibsons, B.C., recently joined a line of people shuffling through security at a federal building in Ottawa to lobby politicians on behalf of people who have lost their Canadian citizenship.

Chapman was born in Canada to Canadian parents, but 34 years ago, he was told he is not Canadian.

"I was born in Canada," he told CBC News. "My father, when I was a child, took out American citizenship. So, they took my birthright away."

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley acknowledged the provisions are unfair and said the government would shift its policy to fast-track the process of becoming a citizen for these people.

Prior to this week, Canadians without status would have to apply to become landed immigrants - a process that takes three years or more.

Now, they will be able to apply for a grant of citizenship in just eight months.

"We're trying to right the wrongs of the past and do the reasonable thing, the right thing, for what are essentially Canadians in all but name," Finley told CBC News in an exclusive interview.
But critics say that still leaves people like Porteous in limbo for too long.
Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi, vice-chair of the citizenship and immigration committee, called for Parliament to pass a new law for the Canadians who should never have lost their citizenship in the first place.
"I mean, it just defies logic," Telegdi told CBC News. "The system doesn't make any sense, so it's critical that we have a citizenship act that is in compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the generosity of what Canadians believe."
 
Dexter Sinister
#2
This is completely absurd. I ask myself, what's quicker, easier, and cheaper: a simple act of Parliament to fix this for everybody at a stroke, which I'm sure Parliament would happily fast track pretty much unanimously, or ten to twenty thousand individual grants of citizenship by Ministerial decree that take 8 months each? That's got to be a stupid bureaucrat's idea.
 
sanctus
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister View Post

This is completely absurd. I ask myself, what's quicker, easier, and cheaper: a simple act of Parliament to fix this for everybody at a stroke, which I'm sure Parliament would happily fast track pretty much unanimously, or ten to twenty thousand individual grants of citizenship by Ministerial decree that take 8 months each? That's got to be a stupid bureaucrat's idea.


Well, they have to justify ther salaries somehow And nothing like a bureaucrat to make a simple thing complicated and bizarre! Most bureaucrats get so involved in the process of their departments that I truly think they forget it is people they are dealing with, not paperwork.
 
Dexter Sinister
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by sanctus View Post

Most bureaucrats get so involved in the process of their departments that I truly think they forget it is people they are dealing with, not paperwork.

You're absolutely right. I've been one of them at two different stages of my working life, and I can assure you that all the bad things you've ever heard or imagined about the public sector bureaucracies are all true.
 
sanctus
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Dexter Sinister View Post

You're absolutely right. I've been one of them at two different stages of my working life, and I can assure you that all the bad things you've ever heard or imagined about the public sector bureaucracies are all true.


I know, my brother used to work for Social Services in Ontario. He used to tell me horror stories about the levels of paperwork to fulfill one small request by a client.

On a similiar basis, and with respect to my "bosses", the RC Church has the same issues. Don't forget, as a two thousand year old organization, the levels of departments and aposolates would make your head swim. Getting any change enacted requires an incredible process!(if truth be told)
 
I think not
#6
Well that just sucks.
 
Curiosity
#7
How awful for the people involved...

I didn't know anyone could "lose their citizenship", especially if they were not "citizens" in the first place!!!

What an absurdity.... did they not get informed properly?

Everyone has a social insurance number.... could those not be screened for people who fell into this gap?

Fire the government and put CanCon in charge!!! I'll make the lunches and coffee and tea.
 
mapleleafgirl
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Curiosity View Post

How awful for the people involved...

I didn't know anyone could "lose their citizenship", especially if they were not "citizens" in the first place!!!

What an absurdity.... did they not get informed properly?

Everyone has a social insurance number.... could those not be screened for people who fell into this gap?

Fire the government and put CanCon in charge!!! I'll make the lunches and coffee and tea.

cool, ill help serve the food and tea! but really, i thought once a canuck always a canuck even if you move to another country.
 
Daz_Hockey
#9
that's shocking...I wonder if any other western democracy has the same rule?

(simply because I'd be in a bit of trouble!! )
 
tracy
#10
Glad I didn't move here till after my 24th birthday

Immigration rules are so complex it doesn't surprise me a bit that someone could unknowingly make a big mistake like this. Even experts often don't really know what's happening and different immigration officials interpret laws differently. I actually had my visa application rejected a year ago because my form had an attached job description and the border guard said it must be in the body of the letter. I'd never heard that, neither had my recruiter or any of my friends who are here on the same type of permit. Lucky for me that just meant I had to drive home to get another letter then do another border run the next day, but it did drive home the fact that this is a pretty complex process at times. Government rules are never simple.
 
Curiosity
#11
Bureaucratic speech is another language unto itself.

Nobody understands it - not even those who have to enforce what it imparts.