The Canadian government has passed a new citizenship law that resolves a variety of issues about Canadian citizenship (Bill C-37). Buried in that law is a provision that has passed unnoticed, until now, which puts limitations on the Canadian citizenship rights of some internationally adopted children. Recent articles in the National Post, the Globe & Mail and the Ottawa Citizen have brought these provisions to the attention of the adoption community.
Although this new law will come into effect on April 17, 2009, I hope it is not too late for adopting parents to express their views (read Comments from adopting parents so far. Also read Complex Citizenship Laws Anger Adopting Parents). The provisions of the new law are complex, so I have set out a series of questions and answers at the end of this article, which I hope will clarify the finer points of the new rules.
A good way to begin understanding the issues is to read the newspaper articles “Critics Fear Two-Tier Citizenship” and “Citizenship Changes Could Create Inferior Citizens”. For the perspective of Robin Hilborn of Family Helper, see “Canadian law denies citizenship to children of foreign adoptees”
Essentially the legislation provides that the children of some internationally adopted children will not have a right to Canadian citizenship. In practice, this is likely to affect only a small proportion of all adopted children. What upsets adopting parents, however, is the notion that their children will have a lesser class of citizenship. In effect, the children are being discriminated against. Adopting parents do not want to feel that their children are second-class citizens.
Adopting parents in Canada are losing their tolerance for being discriminated against. Resentment at the inherent discrimination against adopting families built into the EI legislation has been simmering for the past decade (for a detailed description of the discrimination which adopting parents feel about this subject, see our earlier Spotlight, “Adoption in the Workplace”). Now a new law that discriminates against their children is going to have a galvanizing effect on the adoption community. Get Dual Latvian Passport Fast
The Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, 2008, begins with the following words:
“The Citizenship Act, under which CIC grants citizenship to eligible newcomers, affirms that all Canadians have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities whether they are citizens by birth or naturalization.”
That will change as of April 17, 2009. In an attempt to solve the problem of Canadian citizenship being handed down generationally to people who don’t actually live in Canada, the government has reduced the citizenship rights of some internationally adopted children, and effectively created a lesser class of citizenship for them. Was this really necessary? It feels like a sledgehammer was used to kill a flea. Could not a more elegant solution have been found to actually deal with the perceived problem?
The Report of the Senate Standing Committee, which reviewed Bill C-37, states:
“Such a distinction would grant citizenship to a first generation born outside Canada while denying it to their children and subsequent generations were they to be born abroad. Such a provision strikes your Committee as arbitrary and unfair.”