Australian senator resigns after learning she's also Canadian

An Australian senator has resigned after learning she was also a Canadian. She left Canada at 11 months old.

Dual citizens are not allowed to run for Parliament in Australia

Australian Greens party Senator Larissa Waters was forced to resign her seat after learning she also had Canadian citizenship. Australia doesn't allow dual citizens to run for Parliament. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image/Associated Press)

An Australian senator has resigned after learning she was also a Canadian.

Larissa Waters, who represented the Greens, said in a statement she was born in Winnipeg in 1977 to Australian parents who were briefly studying in Canada.

"I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalized to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship. At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old," the statement read.

Waters, who was also a co-deputy leader of the party, looked into the status of her citizenship after another senator from the Greens resigned last week under the same circumstances.

Scott Ludlam, also a co-deputy leader, had recently discovered he also had New Zealand citizenship.

Australia's constitution states that a "citizen of a foreign power" is not eligible to be elected to Parliament.

"I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007, and I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight," she said

Waters said other foreign-born lawmakers among the 226 in Parliament could find themselves in a similar predicament.

"There are many politicians in the Senate and the federal House of Representatives that were born overseas and it may well be that others have to make this embarrassing revelation as well," she told reporters.

"But I can hold my head up high knowing that the moment I found out, I have taken the step of announcing that I will sadly have to resign," she added.

Waters gained attention in May when she became the first woman to breastfeed in Australia's Parliament and has also done so while presenting a motion.

She regularly brought her daughter Alia to Parliament with her and was an advocate for making workplaces more family friendly.

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said in a statement on his Facebook page that Waters had made an "innocent mistake."

He also said the party would review its processes for how candidates are vetted to "to prevent this from happening again."

With files from The Associated Press