2.10.2007

when is a canadian not a canadian

I'm always saying everyone is Canadian.

Idealistic Pragmatist has a great take on this. She posted this in comments a while back.
Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in Canada but left to go to Hollywood at the age of four?

A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in the United States but moved with his family to Vancouver at the age of fifteen?

A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born in the United States but married a Canadian and spends summers in Toronto?

A: A Canadian.

Q: What do Canadians call a famous person who was born and raised in the United States, lives there now, but once made a pit stop in London, Ontario on his way through from Buffalo to Detroit?

A: A Canadian.
OK, that last one might be a humourous exaggeration. But there's no denying that when it comes to famous people, Canadians claim the lot, from Saul Bellow (born in Lachine, Quebec, but identified with the city of Chicago for most of his life) to Winnie-The-Pooh (a Brit, named after a bear called Winnipeg).

Unfortunately, when it comes to ordinary folks, some Canadians are decidedly less generous, as those periodic letters to the editor complaining about dual citizenship show.

Then there are Canadians who discover that they are really not Canadians after all. From The Economist, courtesy of my friend AW1L:
When is a Canadian not a Canadian?

In the deathless prose of bureaucracy, it is known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Adopted after the terrorist attacks of 2001, it requires all returning Americans, as well as citizens of Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries, to present a passport when entering the United States by air. Since many such travellers previously got by with a driving licence, it was dreaded by tourism officials in the countries concerned. But when it came into effect earlier this month, all seemed to go smoothly.

Except it didn't for several thousand Canadians who, when they applied for passports, discovered that their own country's bureaucracy had incomprehensibly stripped them of their nationality. Some of them have even become stateless.

Up to 20,000 people may have fallen foul of a little-known provision of the Citizenship Act of 1947. In some cases, their misfortune lies in having been born during the period when Canada did not recognise dual citizenship until the act was amended in 1977. Some are the children of war brides who came to Canada after the second world war. Others are "border babies" born in an American hospital because it was closer to their home than the nearest Canadian town. A third group are children of parents who moved to the United States for work and took out American citizenship. The law states that if any of these Canadians were living outside Canada on their 28th birthday (or 24th in the 1947 act) they would automatically lose their citizenship unless they filled out a form saying they wished to keep it.

One of many who knew nothing of this requirement is Barbara Porteous, a British Columbian born just over the border in Washington state. When she applied for a passport last July she was told she would first have to re-apply for citizenship. This would take three years, involve health and criminal checks and a C$125 ($106) fee. "It just blew me away," she said. "I've been living here for 46 years and getting the Canadian pension for the past five years."

Andrew Telegdi, a Liberal MP, dubs those affected "lost Canadians" and says they were deprived of their citizenship without proper notice. He is campaigning to reform the law. But like its Liberal predecessor, the current Conservative administration shows no inclination to do so. Diane Finley, the immigration minister, announced on January 24th that she had directed her department to resolve these cases as quickly as possible. That means about a year, her officials admit. It makes the complex immigration procedures at American airports feel like greased lightning.

4 comments:

West End Bound said...

Let's hope Minister Finley can spur her department to expedite the process of correcting this situation. It must be most distressing for those parties involved . . .

Totally off-topic:

Is there an ETA for the updated blog template? We miss the blog links, "hot to" section, etc. Hope you get it up and running soon.

L-girl said...

Is there an ETA for the updated blog template?

Nope. I'm not working on it right now.

We miss the blog links, "hot to" section, etc. Hope you get it up and running soon.

Well thanks! I don't want to put the links back, in case the sidebar gets screwed up when I load in the new design.

The new design is coming any day now - and has been for the last several months. :)

Once the new design is up, I'll gradually complete the sidebar links. I spent a lot of time putting re-posting all my photos and categorizing every post, and I need a long break from all that.

Sorry for the inconvenience! Hopefully the categories can serve a similar purpose. All the "how to" links can be found in the immigrating/moving category.

West End Bound said...

Thanks for the info . . . . We'll be looking for the new design. And thanks for the "how to" location!

Looks like the comment operation is working correctly now . . . .

Woti-woti said...

Q. What do Canadians call a Jamaican-born sprinter built like a weightlifter who won a gold medal for Canada at the '88 Olympics?

A. Canadian.

Q. What do Canadians call a Jamaican-born sprinter built like a weightlifter who had the gold medal stripped for failing a drug-test?

A. Huh? What? Well, who cares about the summer olympics eh? They don't have hockey.