Children of WW II troops still fighting for Canadian citizenship
The passing of anotherCanada Day has left a sour taste in the mouthsof someBritish- and European-born children of Second World War Canadian servicemen because they're still battling to get citizenship decades after coming to the country.
Along with shiploads of war brides, about 20,000children were reunited with their fathers in the years immediately after the war.
Most thought they were citizens because they came to the country as children and had Canadian fathers — not knowing thata change in the law decades ago requires people who weren't born in Canada to take steps to retain their citizenship. The change was never explained to war brides or their children.
They were shocked to find out years later that they weren't considered citizens under the law. The Federal Court is currently considering a challenge to that legislation, which could affect the legal status of thousands of war babies.
'It's an absolutely inhuman process,' Dallaire says
SenatorRomÃ©o Dallaire — who was a war baby born in Holland but became one of Canada's most famous living soldiers — said the current situation makes no sense.
"I think it's an absolutely inhuman process, but the politicians are responsible for changing legislation, so have them change it to absorb these people," the retired lieutenant-general told CBC News.
Dallaire speaks from personal experience.When he wanted a Canadian passport in 1973, he learned he wasn't a citizen. Even thoughhe was already a captain in the army, he had to dig up records of his life in Canada and go before a citizenship judge to be declared Canadian.
2005 law didn't help babies born overseas
In 2005, Parliament passed a law allowing people who were born in Canada and removed by a parent to reclaim their citizenship. But it didn'thelpwar babies born overseas, especially if they did not settle in Canada permanently.
Stuart Martin was one. He lived in Canada until he was 12, when his father took the family to England.
"I was born there, sure. I served a long time in the British army, sure. I understand all that, but what people don't understand is I'm Canadian," he said.
Not according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The department says Martin lost his statusafter the law was changedto exclude people who weren't born in Canada or living in the country at the time unless they took steps to retain their citizenship.
"How do you know you have to apply for retention of your Canadian citizenship?" Martin asked.
Court challenge could affect thousands
The case now in Federal Court was launched by Joe Taylor, a62-year-old British accountant whosefather was a Canadian soldier.
Citizenship and Immigration says he lost his status as a Canadian because he left the country as a child and did nothing to reclaim it until he was looking to retire in British Columbia.
The judge in the case has warned that his ruling could affect the status of every war bride and any children they had.
Although the fight began long before the current government was elected in January, lawyers for the government went to court in May to defend the department's interpretation of thelaw.
The office of Immigration Minister Monte Solberg declined requests for an interview.