Oh Canada...
August 19, 2014 1:17 PM   Subscribe


 
Ugh. What f'n problem are these idiots in the CPC trying to solve? That refugees are harder to deport if they have kids while they wait years for their applications to be denied? Or is it that we want fewer brown Canadians? Because both sound pretty damn racist to me.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Those darn fetuses keep sneaking over the border! Although to be fair, only one other country in the entire world grants citizenship based on birth location.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Another point raised elsewhere - what happens if Canada denies citizenship, and no other country grants it? Where does a stateless person live and work?
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yep. Conservative opposition to a policy is often driven not by how much it costs, but by how much it benefits people you hate.
posted by rocket88 at 1:24 PM on August 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


On one hand, these seem like racists xenophobic assholes.

On the other hand, jus soli is kind of a weird, old-fashioned thing, and I don't know how big a deal it would be to change it if it happens less than a few hundred times per year.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


By the way, many countries apply jus soli to people who would otherwise be stateless, but not in other cases.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


rocket88 - that seems to be the case. Our government is acting out of spite. It's a really ugly thing to see.
posted by beau jackson at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


ooooh boy I have a lot of opinions on this... citizenship is a touchy subject.

1) I hate to say "thank Harper for this" but.... thank Harper for this

2) I'm also in the process of getting my European citizenship (via parentage) which I am looking forward to, so to be black & white about citizenship would be hypocritical of me since I am playing that game too

3) that being said, I've known people who have come to Canada, worked 5 years, gotten citizenship and then dropped that country like a bad habit once the papers were signed. Like being Canadian was a stepping stone for him. We threw a citizenship party for him & everything. Yes I'm bitter THAT CAKE WAS EXPENSIVE

4) that being said, a close friend of mine is a Chinese national who married a foreign-born, Canada-raised Canadian and I am rooting for her to get her citizenship next year because she wouldn't abuse it, all his family is here in Canada, and uh, I dunno, she 'feels' Canadian to me...

so what makes a person a Canadian citizen? what makes a person a citizen of anywhere?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


All "secret" means in this context is that it's a cabinet-level document. It's pretty routine for this sort of thing. Against the law to leak it, but the usage is routine in the federal government.
posted by bonehead at 1:29 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, jus soli is kind of a weird, old-fashioned thing,

Isn't it actually the opposite? Jus sanguinis is the older concept, with jus soli being primarily a phenomena of the Americas after independence.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:31 PM on August 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


only one other country in the entire world grants citizenship based on birth location.

Make that "only one other country that is a member of the 'advanced economy' club." Most of the countries in the Americas recognize unconditional jus soli. And a lot of others recognize some modified form thereof (and, therefore, take "birth location" into consideration in their citizenship laws).
posted by yoink at 1:32 PM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Isn't it actually the opposite? Jus sanguinis is the older concept, with jus solis being primarily a phenomena of the Americas after independence.

In the British Empire (which is the relevant historical benchmark for Canadian citizenship), I'm almost certain that jus soli was the norm.
posted by Thing at 1:35 PM on August 19, 2014


3) that being said, I've known people who have come to Canada, worked 5 years, gotten citizenship and then dropped that country like a bad habit once the papers were signed. Like being Canadian was a stepping stone for him. We threw a citizenship party for him & everything. Yes I'm bitter THAT CAKE WAS EXPENSIVE

This isn't remotely relevant to the proposed law change. Unless what your friend "worked" at for 5 years was getting born.
posted by yoink at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


St Peepsburg, those are some great questions. It's not an easy job for the government to make immigration policy, and I'm very aware that fraud is a real problem that has to be addressed.

My contention is that the Harper government's approach - especially when it comes to refugee claimants- is to basically err on the side of punishing everyone. Instead of a fair system that prioritizes protection at the cost of some fraudulent cases succeeding, the approach is to bludgeon the system and make everyone suffer. The removal of health coverage for refugees is a prime example.
posted by beau jackson at 1:37 PM on August 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Blackstone: The first and most obvious division of the people is into aliens and natural-born subjects. Natural-born subjects are such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England, that is, within the ligeance, or as it is generally called, the allegiance of the king; and aliens, such as are born out of it.
posted by Thing at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've known people who have come to Canada, worked 5 years, gotten citizenship and then dropped that country like a bad habit once the papers were signed. Like being Canadian was a stepping stone for him.

So, he paid taxes for five years and we gave him some clean running water and health care and a piece of paper in exchange?

That sounds like a pretty good deal for Canada, to me.
posted by mhoye at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2014 [41 favorites]


I was married to a woman from Canada and my skills are average [construction, business] though my now ex wife is a lawyer. I applied for citizenship. The Harper government, in my experience slowed the process. The timetable listed on the immigration website was basically tripled as a practical matter. It's a lengthy process and after having lived with my wife for two years in Canada they informed us that our application was yet to be considered.
posted by vapidave at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2014


Whichever is actually older, jus soli seems a lot more suited to modern sensibilities, and just generally a lot nicer, than jus sanguinis.

Jus soli: The country responsible for administering the area where you were born is responsible for you.

Jus sanguinis: You are forever defined by your ancestral tribe.
posted by Hizonner at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh no its because of the TERROR BABIES beware them terrorists lay EGGS on our fertile shores they HATCH and their unholy spawn SOAK UP OUR PRECIOUS GERBER PRODUCTS have you not SEEN THEM they make long flights TORTUROUS an they fill their diapers with PURE EVIL they suckle at the RANCID TEAT OF BAALZEBUB mark my words they will COME FOR YOU IN MIDDLE OF NIGHT an SPIT UP ON YOUR CARPET cleaning that up costs a TON
posted by JHarris at 1:42 PM on August 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


Whichever is actually older, jus soli seems a lot more suited to modern sensibilities, and just generally a lot nicer, than jus sanguinis.

Jus soli: The country responsible for administering the area where you were born is responsible for you.

Jus sanguinis: You are forever defined by your ancestral tribe.


Those are hardly neutral ways of summing up the implications of either approach. If I am a US citizen visiting France as a tourist and I have a baby, does it make any sense for that baby to be a French citizen? Does it make any sense for the baby to be denied US citizenship? If you can accept either that the answer to those questions is "no" or can simply accept that they're debatable, then you don't, actually, think that the rationale for jus soli or jus sanguinis is inherently self-evident.
posted by yoink at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Anchor babies! ANCHOR BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


Personally, I think it seems a little cruel to use babies as anchors. And don't babies float?
posted by yoink at 1:44 PM on August 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


This isn't remotely relevant to the proposed law change. Unless what your friend "worked" at for 5 years was getting born.

Yeah I know, I can get off topic. I gotta watch that. I just have so many opinions. The guy had kids here btw and they got citizenship but that's besides the point.

Really I'm just asking: what defines a citizen? Many of my foreign-born Canadian friends love Canada, and then some people may just take advantage of it.


So, he paid taxes for five years and we gave him some clean running water and health care and a piece of paper in exchange? That sounds like a pretty good deal for Canada, to me.

It's a good deal... for that 5 years. But forever? Like, what if he NEVER comes back to Canada? Does he get to keep that citizenship forever? He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about? And then if a crisis happens abroad he can whip out his passport 20 years from now and say "I'm a canadian!" Is that fair?

or maybe I'm just reallllly bitter about that cake, it had a maple leaf on it and everything
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:44 PM on August 19, 2014


Whichever is actually older, jus soli seems a lot more suited to modern sensibilities, and just generally a lot nicer, than jus sanguinis.

The greater ability of foreign travel makes a mockery of jus soli. It's really incompatible with the world as it is today.
posted by Thing at 1:44 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


As noted in the article, Canada is a signatory of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. This treaty requires signatory countries to allow for people born inside their borders, and who would otherwise be stateless, to acquire citizenship of that country. If the proposed ban is a blanket ban, it would appear to be an abrogation of this treaty.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:44 PM on August 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Whichever is actually older, jus soli seems a lot more suited to modern sensibilities, and just generally a lot nicer, than jus sanguinis.

Nice works in good times.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:45 PM on August 19, 2014


> What f'n problem are these idiots in the CPC trying to solve?

Being behind in the polls. This sort of thing is catnip to true believers like my wife's uncle (an original Reform Party type).
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:45 PM on August 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Does it make any sense for the baby to be denied US citizenship?

Wut?
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:49 PM on August 19, 2014


It's a good deal... for that 5 years. But forever? Like, what if he NEVER comes back to Canada?

So...should "normal" citizenship steadily wane the longer you live outside the country? I mean, if one of your children, say, leaves Canada at age 18 and moves to another country is it "fair" that they can play the "Oh, I'm a Canadian" card any time they want, even if they never set foot there for the next forty, fifty, sixty years? What's the "fair" clock on citizenship, generally?

Citizenship is a legal construct--there's no "common sense" version; however we go about defining it, there are going to be edge cases which confound any sense of "fairness." I don't think focusing on those edge cases is likely to be a good starting point for sensible law reform.
posted by yoink at 1:50 PM on August 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


Those are hardly neutral ways of summing up the implications of either approach.
No, they're not. I'm not trying to be neutral, nor am I trying to make a complete argument for or against either. I'm reacting to the equally loose and non-neutral statement that jus soli is "kind of a weird, old-fashioned thing".

My actual opinion, still without a complete supporting argument: I'd be perfectly happy with a norm that recognized both all the time, and made every case a dual citizen, with right of refusal at adulthood and with any nonresident obligations deferred until then.

It's a relatively uncommon case, and it usually only becomes an issue when somebody is (feared to be) asking for resources from a state that's frankly plenty rich enough to provide them. And the states are already being pretty damned presumptuous by drawing lines on the map and telling natural-born humans where they can live. So tough for them.
posted by Hizonner at 1:50 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does it make any sense for the baby to be denied US citizenship?

Wut?


My point is not that it would be (it wouldn't), my point is the basis on which it is granted US citizenship is jus sanguinis, not jus soli. And it's a case where nobody (I suspect) doubts the justice of jus sanguinis.
posted by yoink at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


But forever? Like, what if he NEVER comes back to Canada? Does he get to keep that citizenship forever? He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about? And then if a crisis happens abroad he can whip out his passport 20 years from now and say "I'm a canadian!" Is that fair?

Sure, why not? What if he was born in canada and his parents moved overseas after 5 years for work but maintained citizenship? Would that person be equally unworthy of canadianness in your eyes? If not, then why?
posted by elizardbits at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't have a problem with citizenship not being granted to the babies of visitors, but I would worry about what it would mean for refugee claimants. Many end of staying here, and if their children were not automatically citizens, it means that you could be born in Canada, and have it be the only place you know, and yet not be a citizen. That would be unfair.

Regarding people who leave Canada and can claim privileges of citizenship despite not caring about the country nor living here for decades...I'm ok with that, it seems to me the only way to protect MY rights as citizen. The only other option is to grant government the right to revoke citizenship and that is a slippery slope (an yet another previously-unthinkable thing that has been justified in the name of counter-terrorism).
posted by beau jackson at 1:55 PM on August 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


What's the "fair" clock on citizenship, generally?

I have no idea, I'm just asking the question. What IS citizenship? Is it a piece of paper? A sense of identity? An intention to make that country one's home? Does it still make sense in this global world? Depending on your feelings, it can mean a lot more than a piece of paper.

In what world would it be fair to claim the benefits of a country without participating to some degree in that country? Maybe citizenship should wane somewhat, especially if you have no ties there at all.

I have no answers here guys I'm just asking questions. I do remember thinking how much of a bait and switch it seemed, since this guy's plan was to get into the US but his original citizenship made it difficult, so he went via Canada. That's logical and long-term thinking, I suppose, but it just seemed weird to me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:00 PM on August 19, 2014


beau jackson - good points
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:01 PM on August 19, 2014


The house next door to mine is a full time nursery, pregnant woman arrive, three at a time, birth, depart and are replaced by others. We've speculated that either it's a citizenship play on behalf of the mothers benefiting the kids, or a religious motivated unmarried mother having babies away from gossip at home.

Or likely we're wrong on both counts.
posted by Keith Talent at 2:02 PM on August 19, 2014


In the British Empire (which is the relevant historical benchmark for Canadian citizenship), I'm almost certain that jus soli was the norm.

Ooh ooh, I used to be a British Passport Examiner (I mean that I examined British passports, not that I myself used to be British) so I can perhaps shed some light here, although my training was a long time ago and I've since forgotten it. PLEASE ALSO NOTE that the below IS NOT nationality advice which I am not at this time qualified to provide and that all statements are those of me and do NOT necessarily reflect the opinions of any part of Her Majesty's Government including the Consular Service or the Passport Office.

Basically, IF I RECALL CORRECTLY, nationality determinations weren't that much of a thing until we started having big wars when they were basically like "oh shit we gotta draft people. Who is British enough for us to draft?" so then the made up a bunch of rules. These formed the British Nationality Act of 1948. Basically, if you were born in the UK or your father was born in the UK you were British EXCEPT HAHAHA J/K EVERYTHING IS CRAZY because there are all these colonies and also sometimes women married people who weren't British citizens and then their nationality status got revoked but what if they weren't automatically granted their husband's citizenship and also what if your father wasn't born in the UK because his mother was in India or wherever because she was with her husband who was stationed with the military well okay the you are British because your father WOULD have been born in the UK except that his father was serving the crown and it all gets very, very complicated.

But wait! There is more! Yes, yes my friends, there is more. What about when people started gaining independence? Are they still British? Well, again, it depends, but it usually has to do with a) were they in that country on the date it declared independence 2) was their grandfather British (citizenship couldn't be passed down through women until 1981. Seriously. Also, your "father" is whomever is on your birth certificate/your mother's husband because without DNA testing that's just sort of what everyone assumed). Also, those are the basic guidelines but, let's be honest, that's a simplified version and it's pretty complicated.

Also, then there's stuff like Hong Kong's retrocession to China; are people there still British? Well, it turns out we have a fancy different status for them called British National (Overseas) which does NOT grant "right of abode" (a big part of nationality determinations, the legal right to live in the UK) but still gives you a British passport, just not a British citizen passport. You could also be a BOC (British Overseas Citizen) or BOTC (British Overseas Territories Citizen) which wouldn't have made you automatically a British Citizen until I want to say 2002 at which point if you were a citizen of, for example, Anguilla, you would also be a British Citizen UNLESS you were nationalized as Anguillan AFTER 2002 so you need to prove that you were born in Anguilla before 2002 or that your parents were born there between 1981 and 2002 OR that your father was born there before 1981 OR that your grandparents were born there (basically you get one generation out of the country before you lose your status, so if you are born in 1989 to a British mother in the US and you give birth in the UK then your kid will be British but if you DON'T your kid will NOT be British UNLESS you were doing some sort of service to the crown like military service OR your child is granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in which case yes, their children will be British, although with a different status).

ANYWAY, in 1981 they changed a bunch of stuff e.g. now you can get a nationality status from your mother AND now if you are born in the UK you are not automatically granted citizenship; you need to have either a British parent OR your parents need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain (a specific type of visa). Apparently this happened basically because of anchor babies; a lot of people from former territories were (at least ostensibly, I have no idea if this actually happened) coming to the UK to give birth and so they changed the law. There are different laws if you are what's called a "stateless person" or a "British subject" which is a whole different classification.

I think what I'm really saying here is that, with all due respect to Her Majesty's Passport Office, we should not really be basing ANYTHING on British nationality law, at least not if we want to get anything done instead of looking at people's grandfather's birth certificates for the next hundred years.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2014 [40 favorites]


All "secret" means in this context is that it's a cabinet-level document. It's pretty routine for this sort of thing. Against the law to leak it, but the usage is routine in the federal government.

How does that different from the commonly understood definition of "secret"? Rarity isn't implied in any usage I'm familiar with.
posted by Etrigan at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2014


This boils down to the question of what problems does Canada currently face as a result of having a jus soli policy up until now? Nobody, including the government has given an answer.
I agree with The Card Cheat that this is a dog whistle to the white Conservative base.
posted by rocket88 at 2:10 PM on August 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


How does that different from the commonly understood definition of "secret"? Rarity isn't implied in any usage I'm familiar with.

Secret as used here does have an implication of something sinister, that this is being withheld from the public for nefarious reasons.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think what I'm really saying here is that, with all due respect to Her Majesty's Passport Office, we should not really be basing ANYTHING on British nationality law, at least not if we want to get anything done instead of looking at people's grandfather's birth certificates for the next hundred years.

Did I or anybody else even suggest that before you launched upon your treatise? I was rather correcting the idea that jus sanguinis was older than jus soli, which is almost certainly untrue in reference to the British Empire, and relevant because of the history of Canada. So, in reference to Canadian nationality laws, I would not be surprised to find jus soli is a hangover from an earlier time and its abolition potentially more progressive than not (whether this is the case here or no, I make no claim).

I hope that helps.
posted by Thing at 2:18 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Secret as used here does have an implication of something sinister, that this is being withheld from the public for nefarious reasons.
Yes, and the fact that it's routine doesn't make that less likely.
posted by Hizonner at 2:18 PM on August 19, 2014


Secret as used here does have an implication of something sinister, that this is being withheld from the public for nefarious reasons.

Please come up with non-nefarious reasons for anyone going to jail over leaking this.
posted by Etrigan at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am having a hard time understanding the politics of this. The Conservatives seemed to do pretty well in Ontario by going after the votes of socially/fiscally conservative minority voters. If they were to go ahead with this kind of immigration reform I could see a lot of that support leaving them. This would not only be bad for the Conservatives in the short-term as they need all the help they can get to win the next election, but it would be bad long-term as well because it would cement the Liberal Party's status as the default party for minorities.

As far as worrying about anchor babies, I was under the impression that while any citizen can apply for their parents to immigrate, they also have to prove they have sufficient resources to take care of them (this is different from spouses and minor children where no such proof is required). So if these anchor babies are able to return to Canada and either get a decent job or bring sufficient resources from abroad to support their parents/family members then I am having a hard time seeing this as a problem.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


The United States' proudest moment was making it a Constitutional doctrine that those born on US soil are, without dispute, US citizens. Thankfully, to change this, the government (or anyone else) would have to go through a ridiculous amount of difficulty, to the point where it's unlikely to happen.
posted by koeselitz at 2:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]




Ugh. What f'n problem are these idiots in the CPC trying to solve?

Just getting ready for the flotillas of Asian Pacific refugees that will wash up on Canadian shores when the Global Warming sea level rise really begins to kick in.

There really won't be any alternative other than mass murder to hosting the refugee camps where they'll probably have to live out their lives on Canadian soil, but it would be highly inconvenient for any children they might have there to have an automatic claim to citizenship.
posted by jamjam at 2:26 PM on August 19, 2014


All I'm saying is that it is the law in Canada that any new regulations or laws being considered be marked secret. This is true in general of anything that might be raised in cabinet. In this context that means that it should not be discussed with those not directly involved in the decision.
posted by bonehead at 2:26 PM on August 19, 2014


He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about?

Just a note on this - the Conservatives already "fixed" this problem. I'm as Canadian as it gets - my father's side were United Empire Loyalists. If that actually counts for anything.

But after having given up residence for 5 years you are no longer eligible to vote in Canada. Americans living in Toronto (of which there are plenty) have a party every four years to get together to fill out their mail-in votes. Canadians living in America (of which there are plenty) basically don't get to vote anywhere.

Before Harper you got to vote by mail in your previous riding of residence indefinitely.

It's disenfranchisement. And it happened years ago.
posted by GuyZero at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


I am having a hard time understanding the politics of this. The Conservatives seemed to do pretty well in Ontario by going after the votes of socially/fiscally conservative minority voters. If they were to go ahead with this kind of immigration reform I could see a lot of that support leaving them.

The vast majority of immigrants arrive as Permanent Residents. Their children born in Canada would still be granted citizenship automatically. So few babies would be affected (around 500 a year), I don't think it would make a big splash. Also, some immigrants might likely support this if they perceived it to be a measure that made immigration more fair- especially considering all they had to go through to get their residency and citizenship.

You would also think that removal of health coverage for refugee claimants might have been an issue for immigrants and other in Canada- and that affects tens of thousands! But it's just not on the radar for most.
posted by beau jackson at 2:37 PM on August 19, 2014


I'm not opposed to jus soli, I'm opposed to the fact that it isn't universal. If pregnant, I'd gladly slip into the U.K. to have a baby with joint citizenship. Alas, since 1983, that hasn't worked for us visitors. Perhaps it makes me some kind of -IST to be irritated about the lack of reciprocity. If so, well, nobody's perfect.
posted by artemisia at 2:41 PM on August 19, 2014


It's a good deal... for that 5 years. But forever? Like, what if he NEVER comes back to Canada? Does he get to keep that citizenship forever? He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about? And then if a crisis happens abroad he can whip out his passport 20 years from now and say "I'm a canadian!" Is that fair?

Maybe not fair, but what is the real problem? It's our feelings that are hurt most of all. But think practically of some kind of "waning" citizenship- how would you design it so that a Canadian nun teaching in Nigeria for 50 years is guaranteed to be able to retire back home at age 90? And I mean guarantee.

Yes there are some cases where "uncommitted" Canadians so cost us money or cause some kind of headache, but waning citizenship has the potential to cause way more problems than it solves.
posted by beau jackson at 2:43 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


The vast majority of immigrants arrive as Permanent Residents.

In December 2013 there were 258,619 permanent residents, 126,816 temporary foreign workers, 293,503 temporary foreign students, and 259,590 international mobility work permit holders, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("Preliminary tables – Permanent and temporary residents, 2013"). That means that permanent residents are only 28% of the resident immigrant population.

Given those statistics, I'm really surprised that this proposal would only apply to so few babies. I wish the Spectator would post the proposal itself. Maybe it is meant to except not just permanent residents, but also those with study or work permits.
posted by grouse at 2:49 PM on August 19, 2014


I feel comfortable, yet again, saying:

Fuck Harper.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:51 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Please come up with non-nefarious reasons for anyone going to jail over leaking this.

Cabinet confidentiality is a cornerstone of Westminster parliamentary process. It is absolutely essential that the cabinet be able to discuss proposed laws freely and frankly, and hear all sides of an issue, without fear that people will be afraid to give their opinions honestly. This, by the way, protects, among other things, cabinet members' right to argue vociferously against proposed new policies without fear that they will make their government look divided. Cabinet secrecy no longer applies, of course, once you have a bill being debated in parliament, and there is plenty of time--at that stage--for the public to weigh in and to voice its opinion.

I know everyone loves shouting about "transparency" these days, but it is quite impossible for good governance to go forward if every single step in the political process is conducted in the public eye. There have to be some spaces where you can go behind closed doors and thrash things out.
posted by yoink at 2:52 PM on August 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


I agree with The Card Cheat that this is a dog whistle to the white Conservative base.

There's no real evidence of that, and ordinarily I'd be willing to give a government the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it's the result of serious consideration of some obscure legal aspects of citizenship of which we are unaware. But given that A) it's been leaked, and B) the recent history of the Conservatives, I suspect you might be right.
posted by sfenders at 2:52 PM on August 19, 2014


1) I hate to say "thank Harper for this" but.... thank Harper for this

This is the sort of comment that sort of requires some support and explanation. I'm not the type of person who thanks Harper lightly. Why are you thanking him?
posted by Hoopo at 3:03 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a good deal... for that 5 years. But forever?

Yes.

Like, what if he NEVER comes back to Canada?

We'll miss him.

Does he get to keep that citizenship forever? He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about?

He cared enough to put five years of his life towards earning his citizenship. That seems like a lot, and "not caring" is a ridiculous and dangerous reason to strip a citizen of the rights of their citizenship.

And then if a crisis happens abroad he can whip out his passport 20 years from now and say "I'm a canadian!" Is that fair?

A government's role is, in part, to help its citizens in times of larger crisis. Fairness has nothing to do with anything, that's why they're called rights.
posted by mhoye at 3:11 PM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Does he get to keep that citizenship forever? He gets to vote in a country he doesn't care about?

Not once he moves away, as GuyZero pointed out.

We've also restricted citizenship by birth outside of the country, so I guess pregnant women better stop travelling.
posted by jeather at 3:18 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm a Canadian citizen who had to go through all the rigamarole of the waiting and application process. The person above who said that your sponsor as a spouse doesn't have to prove they can support you is absolutely wrong. You have to have X-amount of dollars in the bank earmarked for your family member even if they are parents, siblings, children, or spouses. I have no idea where the concept that this wasn't the case came from.

Also, the people who think/lean towards the idea that citizenship should expire if you live outside the country for some ~magical amount of time--wth? Not even Americans think that kind of thing. You do realize that the Americas are full of people who came here and stole land and dispossessed the indigenous populations, right? Having a passport doesn't mean you're entitled to decide that other people can't come over here and live a safer, happier life. Just because your ancestors came here two hundred years ago makes no difference wrt the fact that the vast majority of North Americans are here by sheer luck/being kidnapped and stolen from their ancestral land/in indentured servitude/who the hell even knows (pirates? runaway criminals? random chance?).

Most Americans and Canadians won the birth lottery when we arrived in the world. What difference does it actually make to you personally that someone else gets to, too? Some Somali kid gets to live life without the fear of being pressed into war? Oh god, my tax dollars!
posted by syncope at 3:20 PM on August 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Talking about stripping someone's citizenship, acquired through naturalization, because they live in another country now seems somewhat problematic to me. Because, you know, I'd be one of those people.

I moved to Canada as a PR when I was about 9, became a citizen a few years later (and had to renounce my previous citizenship since that country didn't allow dual citizenship). I then went to undergrad and grad school in the US and have been in the US since.

You'll have to pry my Canadian passport from my cold, dead hands: it's the country with which I still identify the strongest in terms of values and ideals, and where my parents and friends live. I may not live in Canada, but I wear a poppy every November, speak both languages fluently, and say sorry like the best of em. I'm not sure if and when I'll ever move back to Canada, but I sure hope your notion that one should strip my citizenship at some point doesn't happen. For one, I'd be stateless! Moreover, it seems problematic to me in a global world where many of us make our careers in countries other than those we grew up in, or spent time in (in my case that'd about 8 years of my life). Canada has a long tradition of many of its citizens working abroad in a whole host of occupations, from the UN/NGOs to silicon valley startups.

And, seriously, your concern about the Canadian government having to bail me out of trouble at some point in the future? Don't worry about it. Canada has an abysmal record at protecting its citizens abroad, and I sure as heck don't count on it.
posted by strangeloops at 3:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


Wait, there's a Canadian Louis Gohmert?
posted by symbioid at 3:22 PM on August 19, 2014


I think they're considering this so they can avoid ever having to deal with the Ted Cruz of the future.
posted by scruss at 3:26 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


(In case it isn't clear I think that this is a bad thing, just like I thought stripping voting rights was a bad thing and changing the way you can pass down citizenship was a bad thing. Please let us not vote Harper back in. Please. I don't care, Mulcair, Trudeau, whoever runs the BQ if it comes back to life, whatever.)
posted by jeather at 3:29 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I know everyone loves shouting about "transparency" these days, but it is quite impossible for good governance to go forward if every single step in the political process is conducted in the public eye.

I think there's a wide gulf between "Hey, let's go into this room over here away from the cameras while I float this idea" and "You can go to jail if you tell anyone about this."
posted by Etrigan at 3:30 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


While I like St. Peepsburg quite a bit, I find his/her comments here in this thread pretty odious. Reminds me of the people who called in to Joe Easingwood's talk show on CFAX back in the day, or the Reform-types that supported Clyde Wells.

If you are a Canadian and you object to these proposed changes to the Canadian Citizenship Act, I would urge you to contact your member of parliament (in my case Murray Rankin), as well as the senior House member of parliament for your province (in my case, living in British Columbia I think it is James Moore).

I did the same a couple of years ago when the CBSA filmed a "reality show" depicting a raid on "illegal" migrants (no one is illegal, I like to think).

While they are filming another season, Vic Toews has resigned.
posted by Nevin at 3:35 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


BTW, my wife is a landed immigrant, my kids are dual-citizens with another country, and I have spent a considerable amount of time living outside Canada.
posted by Nevin at 3:36 PM on August 19, 2014


I think there's a wide gulf between "Hey, let's go into this room over here away from the cameras while I float this idea" and "You can go to jail if you tell anyone about this."

Yes: one of them is likely to continue to be honored and to continue to actually function as a necessary part of a good government system; the other is not.

Cabinet confidentiality has a long, honorable history in Westminster parliamentary systems. You don't throw it away because occasionally fuckheads get into power and you don't agree with their policy agenda. They still have the same right to protected discussion of the policy initiatives you don't happen to approve of under the seal of cabinet secrecy that other governments had and will have in the service of policy initiatives of which you do approve.
posted by yoink at 3:45 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love that the article points out that this could actually make it harder to deport people with their newborn not-Canadian babies: It could be more challenging to remove families which have a child born in Canada in terms of getting access to travel documents for that child,

If I were a Canadian attempting to convince bigoted xenophobes that this were a bad idea, I'd probably focus on that aspect.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2014


Fuck Harper.

Only if you will be abroad in 9 months time.
posted by srboisvert at 3:57 PM on August 19, 2014


They still have the same right to protected discussion of the policy initiatives you don't happen to approve of under the seal of cabinet secrecy that other governments had and will have in the service of policy initiatives of which you do approve.

You do not know what my stance is on this issue, and I will thank you not to presume it. Separate from this particular proposal, I find laughable the idea that publicly elected and accountable representatives of the people cannot possibly discuss the issues without criminalizing publicizing such discussion.
posted by Etrigan at 3:59 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Criminalizing it as a default, that is. There are absolutely legitimate governmental functions that should be conducted behind closed doors and with the weight of the law keeping those doors shut. But the idea that everything should start that way, I find ridiculous.
posted by Etrigan at 4:03 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


strangeloop, Nevin & others - Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly, and I guess it's easy to read what I've written and then jump to an extreme intrepretation of it, which I didn't mean. I have a friend in a similar position to you strangeloop (he immigrated to Toronto at age 11) who is a Canadian citizen and has told me that Canada is his country. He did his graduate & PhD work in the US and only recently returned to Canada but will likely get another job back in the US. I wouldn't dream of stripping him that citizenship! My partner is similarly a european-born Canadian and the majority of my friends are 2nd culture kids from India, China, Hong Kong and South Africa, and I am a child of immigrants myself and yet we all love Canada and value the citizenship dearly. My beef is with people who would 'get the piece of paper' without any identification as to what it means - no appreciation of the values that come with a citizenship.

Of course this would be impossible to determine where that line sits without that slippery slope into hyper-nationalism / xenophobia. What are you going to do, sit someone down and grill them to see if they fit the Canadian Test? That's crazy. Which brings me back to my initial line of questioning: what IS citizenship? is it how long you've been here? What does it mean to "feel" Canadian? What do I 'owe' a country for that citizenship, and what does it 'owe' me? Is it really just a piece of paper? Did I just drink the Canadian Cool-Aid and feel Canadian because they told me to? (tastes like maple syrup fyi) Am I getting unduly sentimental? I feel like I am staring some of my identity ideas right in their face right now. To me it feels like there is more to it than just a piece of paper. But maybe when you boil it down to its essence, it IS just a piece of paper that you earn by having your ass on "this" side of the line for 5 years and filling out some forms. Anyways there's lots of different views here on this thread and there's no 100% best answer that prevents abuse from either side. I say this as a person in the process of applying for european citizenship (via jus sanguinis aka my parentage) and I did a lot of soul searching before I did so, what were my motivations, did I "feel" european, is it the right thing to do etc.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:04 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm a Canadian citizen who had to go through all the rigamarole of the waiting and application process. The person above who said that your sponsor as a spouse doesn't have to prove they can support you is absolutely wrong. You have to have X-amount of dollars in the bank earmarked for your family member even if they are parents, siblings, children, or spouses. I have no idea where the concept that this wasn't the case came from.

I was the one who said that. When I sponsored my wife I was returning to Canada with meagre savings to be a student living off OSAP (student loans). At the time there was no requirement that I be able to support her. This was in 2005 though, and if the Conservatives have done away with that I would not be surprised.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:14 PM on August 19, 2014


My beef is with people who would 'get the piece of paper' without any identification as to what it means - no appreciation of the values that come with a citizenship.

I appreciate the hell out of the values of the citizenships I have - each of them grants me access to a new job market and increasing global mobility. The rest of it is bullshit xenophobia attempting to legitimise a system that says "you were born in y, sucks boo yah, should have picked your parents better if you wanted to be considered a worthwhile person".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:22 PM on August 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


My beef is with people who would 'get the piece of paper' without any identification as to what it means - no appreciation of the values that come with a citizenship.

Do we exist in two different countries? I don't know who you are talking about. I should also say that I volunteered as a job coach at an immigrant services centre here in Victoria. I have met a lot of immigrants, and I have never met anyone like this.
posted by Nevin at 4:29 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have to say a lot of migrants to Canada come from places where living in a harsh winter environment is quite a commitment. You don't lightly migrate from temperate or semitempertate weather patterns to some place like Saskatoon or Winnipeg for no reason. Judging someone's internal concepts and beliefs is not optimal. Do they behave the way a native born citizen would? Hell no, probably not. That doesn't mean they don't appreciate the country that took them in when they had to sacrifice their entire lives (in many cases) to move some place that would take them in and give them a damned break.

Most of my friends in college were Somali or Haitian (I went to a French-speaking school). You want to tell me that if you were from a country in those kind of situations you wouldn't do whatever you could to give your children the best possible life you could? I just find people judging that repulsive. Until you have to be there, please have no opinion.
posted by syncope at 4:41 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


St. Peepsburg cited an example of a friend who seemingly didn't value his citizenship, and offered a reflection that stemmed from this. I don't find the comments odious, just an honest reflection with some logical questions. Xenophobes sometimes couch their bigotry in similar kinds of reflections and language but their point is to make horrible sweeping generalizations about how immigrants as a group, which is not what is happening here.

In December 2013 there were 258,619 permanent residents, 126,816 temporary foreign workers, 293,503 temporary foreign students, and 259,590 international mobility work permit holders, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("Preliminary tables – Permanent and temporary residents, 2013"). That means that permanent residents are only 28% of the resident immigrant population.

Yes I was not thinking of temporary students or workers since according to the strict definition they're generally in Canada temporary and not a political consideration (no vote and very very little voice) but I agree that the number of 500 babies does seem low, considering all of the temporary visas.
posted by beau jackson at 4:44 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Eh, I saw it as using a personal example to make a broad, sweeping statement about new Canadian citizens, and rationalizing the proposed (secret) changes to the Citizenship Act.

I can also remember when Canada was not so petty and hard-nosed about everything.
posted by Nevin at 4:56 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I often find that people who have not been through the visa/immigration/permanent-residency process of a country like Canada or US vastly underestimate how difficult, expensive, stressful, lengthy, and harrowing of a process it can be, even if you have sponsoring family. No one* who undergoes that process does so lightly. If someone went through the trouble, paid their dues (literally), contributed to the Canadian economy for the requisite amount of time or had relatives who could provide for them, and are otherwise deemed eligible by whatever process we've put into place, I have no problem with them gaining the benefits of citizenship indefinitely.

Who cares if they didn't set out on this process out of a sense of some ~*inherent love for the country*~ and are seeking instead to gain some sort of economic or social advantage to themselves? They're fulfilling the same conditions as anyone else. Why is the decision to pursue citizenship for the sake of a better quality of life more morally dubious than any other decision to improve our quality of life? Our relationship with the state is but a series of contracts and rules about what we contribute as members of a society and what the government agrees to give us in return. Surely we're not about to start legislating thoughtcrime for not feeling our fealty to the country strongly enough.

*A statistically insignificant contingent of outliers may make it their business to go acquire citizenships in various countries for nefarious purposes or just shits and giggles, but I very much doubt they have any sort of meaningful impact on our economy, in such a way that we would need to legislate against them and harm many innocents in the process.
posted by Phire at 5:10 PM on August 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


This is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. There is no way that this is going to go through. The Conservative winning stratagem in the last little while has been to go after the suburban immigrant population - especially in Ontario which has made up most of their gains. Yes it's true that most of the immigrants there didn't use this mechanism, but some of them will have (because it takes forever to get citizenship, and babies don't really wait) and they can rile up some support.

And even though it likely won't go through, that doesn't stop the fact that it shouldn't. Canada is a dual nation - split between aboriginal peoples and immigrants. If we're talking about the immigrant side, which if we're talking about the government we are, then the whole mechanism of jus soli is what brought them over.

Frankly, anyone who can afford a plane ticket just to give birth is going to be a boon to Canada's economy. Let 'em come.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:29 PM on August 19, 2014


Just, you know, for those who are on about people getting citizenship and then leaving, possibly forever.

I was born in Canada, to Canadian parents (not that that's relevant) - But I travelled, settled down somewhere else in the world and have no plans to return - I may return some day, but who knows.

To my mind - a citizen is a citizen. Someone who naturalizes is as much a citizen as I am, and should be extended the exact same rights as I have to leave and not come back.

We can't vote, because we aren't resident. We don't get medical coverage or anything like that... we're basically out of the arms of the Canadian system other than having Canadian passports and the right of return, should we want to visit, or move back and pay taxes and get back on medical and vote and all those good things.
posted by TravellingDen at 5:36 PM on August 19, 2014




It shouldn't be too difficult to craft the law so that children born to people on holiday in Canada have no right to citizenship, while those born to legitimate refugee claimants are. Likewise, you could also craft the law (as someone noted upthread) to deny citizenship to the children of those who are not resident in Canada but are merely visiting, but with an exception to grant those children citizenship if the alternative is that they would become stateless.

There's a whole raft of policy options that could be developed to discourage "birth tourism" whilst protecting the rights of children born to people legitimately in Canada. I personally have no problem with limiting automatic citizenship to children born to people who in fact resident in Canada and trying to build a life there (whether they are on work visas, permanent residents, or citizens themselves).

Disclaimer: I was an immigrant to Canada, now a citizen, though not currently resident. I now live in a country where if I had a child, they would not receive citizenship of this place, unless I myself had achieved "permanent resident" status, which will take me 7 years.
posted by modernnomad at 5:49 PM on August 19, 2014


I don't understand. Do these children not qualify as being as Canadian as possible under the circumstances?
posted by aaronetc at 6:02 PM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Why does bring born somewhere qualify someone for citizenship? Why not offer them a permanent residency coupon? This way if they decide to come they can try before the buy, and then have to pass the citizenship test and swear allegiance to the countries values as an adult, when they are ready?
posted by niccolo at 6:48 PM on August 19, 2014


The potential for statelessness is actually already a consequence of current Canadian law, as of 2009.
In one situation, Rachel Chandler was born in China to a father who is a Canadian citizen born in Libya and a mother who is a Chinese citizen. Due to the nationality laws of Canada and China, she was not eligible for citizenship of either country and was apparently born stateless. However, because Rachel Chandler's paternal grandfather was born in Ireland, she was entitled to Irish citizenship, and now holds an Irish passport.
- Wikipedia

Statelessness is one of those things that makes me see red, as does attempting to repeal jus soli. It's such a nasty, cynical move, to no benefit of anyone but perhaps a couple of nasty, cynical politicians. Fuck them all.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:50 PM on August 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


It seems to me that the biggest problem with getting rid of jus soli would have to do with what happens to the descendents of illegal immigrants. If they're not citizens, then you get a permanent, hereditary underclass with no political or economic rights. That seems like a bit of a disaster for democracy. And there's no clear solution to it, because the children of illegal immigrants might not be citizens of any other state, so there isn't necessarily anyplace to deport them to. Plus, it's hard to muster the political will to deport people who are culturally part of their country of birth.

Full disclosure: one of my grandparents was an illegal immigrant, and without jus soli, I could be fucked.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:53 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


This way if they decide to come

They didn't decide to come. They were born there, that's the point. Someone who is born in, say, Canada, lives there for all their life, has to pass a citizenship test at 18 just to show they're Really Canadian(TM) just because their parents were not Really Truly Canadian enough at the instant of their birth? It doesn't seem particularly fair.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:54 PM on August 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


it means that you could be born in Canada, and have it be the only place you know, and yet not be a citizen. That would be unfair.

Replace Canada with Malaysia, and you pretty much have my story.

Malaysia has a jus sanguinis policy. It is the most miserable thing in existence and is directly responsible for most of my life woes.

When I was born, my parents were technically foreigners; my dad had moved to Malaysia about 11 years prior from Bangladesh to work. If my parents had already attained permanent residency (a step below citizenship) I'd be an automatic citizen, but none of us were able to get Malaysian PR till I was about 7, and the process to get that was a nightmare fraught with sabotage and backstabbing, mostly because my dad was a Bangladeshi man heading up a State-owned subsidary and people hated that. Most of this PR business is not my story to tell.

Malaysian PR is horrible. As a PR I was only allowed to attend Government schools - no international schools, not even student exchange really. Yet my school - supposedly one of the best in the state - kept trying to kick me out because they claimed I didn't have a "student visa". (Really it was anti-Bangladeshi sentiment - it was especially thick when I was 10-11 and I was bullied endlessly for it by teachers and students. Same shit my dad went through.) When I was in secondary school, a few years into being a prefect, my school suddenly announced in assembly that they were "no longer taking permanent residents as candidates" - everyone KNEW that was a dig against me, because I was the only PR to have been a prefect in that school since my sister attended 11 years ago.

Because I was on a Bangladesh passport, I had to deal with Bangladesh-related rules for visas, and let me tell you - THEY SUCK. We get treated as "extremely high risk" and therefore our visa applications were onerous. We couldn't even go to Singapore after a while, despite literally living across the Causeway, because they restricted access to Bangladeshis for "medical or business purposes". It didn't matter one bit that we were Malaysian PRs (and in my case functionally Malaysian - I'd only ever gone to Bangladesh for short trips). One time I took a youth trip to Sabah, one of the Malaysian Borneo states, and the Sabah airport people wouldn't let me pass. Claimed that I needed a passport and that my PR ID card was not good enough. They gave me a paper pass to hang on to, but still - stupid and ridiculous.

When I applied for my Australian student visa, again the Malaysianness didn't matter. I was "high risk", so I had to apply for a "pre-visa" - 3 months plus every financial document we had. I was cutting it close.

To apply for Malaysian citizenship you have to wait 12 years, plus any time spent overseas - even a day. My family were avid travellers, so we just tacked on a year. The first time we applied, I was underage, so my application was attached to my dad's. (At this point, my sister had long established herself in the UK, having fled when I was 8, and was already a British citizen, so we didn't worry too much about her.)

We got rejected.
Completely bullshit reasons: one parent's language essay (some school-level writing sample) was a few words short. And apparently I was never a permanent resident so I didn't qualify.

Me. Born and raised in Malaysia, having to deal with all the bullshit from having Malaysian Permanent Residency that was practically pointless except to be used against me.
Good scores in the national public schools.
Actively involved with Malaysian education.
"Not a permanent resident".
Rejected.

When my mum asked if I wanted to apply again now that I was of age, I refused. I was already in Australia at this point, on a bridging visa waiting Australian permanent residency (just as horrible). I only relented when my parents claimed they were begging and crying (they deny this to this day).

It didn't matter that I got straight As for my Malay Language exams in Malaysian Malay-medium schools: I still had to take the language exam.

When they interviewed me, they asked me what the most important obligation was for a Malaysian citizen.
I replied, community service?
The interviewer said no - my responsibility was to vote for the Ruling Party because they "gave me the gift of Malaysian permanent residency".
I wanted to throw a chair at her.

I only received Malaysian citizenship on my 26th birthday (the date is a coincidence). Receiving it was relatively anti-climatic: a short "welcome" speech, then a certificate, which led to the citizen's ID card and a new passport. Funnily enough, because my birth records have me marked as born in Malaysia, there was no indication in any of my documents that I had ever been anything other than Malaysian. As far as anyone was concerned, I was and always have been a regular Malaysian.

I have a lot of other stories regarding getting Australian permanent residency, which only just happened a couple of weeks ago after 5 years of nightmare, but that's getting into derail territory.

Suffice to say, after having to deal with multiple immigration systems around the world, I firmly believe that the process of citizenship and immigration as it stands today is bullshit. The process is fraught with racism and bigotry and all sorts of politicking, the rules change on a whim and fancy, there is absolutely no logic and sense. As my mother put it, "they're toying with people's lives". Whenever people complain about refugees and talk about "illegals" and "why can't they just migrate here legally", sometimes even trying to point to people like me as some sort of counter-example, I want to scream at them and tell them how fucked up their claims are, how fucked up the system is, how it's not fair and never has been.

Open borders for all, migrate and demigrate wherever the hell you wish. Fuck immigration.
posted by divabat at 6:56 PM on August 19, 2014 [21 favorites]


This is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. There is no way that this is going to go through.

With a CPC majority in Parliament, how exactly wouldn't it go through?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:58 PM on August 19, 2014


In regards to Canada, if you consider each change (or, in the case of the link in this FPP, each change being considered) to the Citizenship Act, you might think "oh, that's a fair and balanced approach."

However, taken together, the policy changes enacted by the CPC since 2006 (and also prior to that by the Paul Martin Liberal government) show a much less humane side of Canada. For example:

Refugee claimants struggling to find health care after cuts

We are all immigrants in Canada, all of us. On my father's side we benefited from Clifford Sifton's open-door immigration policy (to white Anglos, of course) at the turn of 20th Century.

On my mother's side, they were non-English speaking Displaced Persons from Europe who benefited from the Bulk Labour Programme after WWII.

Why I should want to slam the door shut on others I cannot quite understand.
posted by Nevin at 7:03 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


The practice of coming to a country to gain instant citizenship for a newborn is very much abused, south of the Canadian border - in the US.

Can someone explain to me what these nefarious reasons for obtaining citizenship are? All I see is xenophobia encoded in concerns about "abuse" of citizenship. Near as I can tell, plenty of "legitimate" citizens are already abusing that status (e.g., tax-dodging by the very wealthy). None of the examples cited, not even the heinous "thousands of Chinese" yearly are abusing the system (not to mention that that the article makes factual errors about qualifying for resident status in the eyes of the California higher ed system) by availing themselves of the perquisites of their status.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:11 PM on August 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait, there's a Canadian Louis Gohmert?

Well, there's this guy; If I were Canadian I might support this new policy in his case.
posted by TedW at 8:11 PM on August 19, 2014


this guy's plan was to get into the US but his original citizenship made it difficult, so he went via Canada

Actual lol irl as this is exactly, precisely, exactly precisely how my dad got here in the early 60s. Sorry that was somehow wrong or offensive of him, I guess.
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ted Cruz is just another populist politician (he reminds me of LBJ in a way). In Canada anyway we should be at least tolerant of opposing points of view, no matter how offensive they are.
posted by Nevin at 8:39 PM on August 19, 2014


In what world would it be fair to claim the benefits of a country without participating to some degree in that country?

I hesitate to engage based on what you've said so far in this thread, but: I am a Canadian citizen and an expat. I have lived in Canada for about 3 years out of the last 25. I'm not sure what 'benefits' you are proposing that I might enjoy as a citizen living overseas other than holding a Canadian passport. I may never return to live in Canada, but I must insist on my right to do so should I choose.

Maybe citizenship should wane somewhat, especially if you have no ties there at all.

It is literally a requirement of the Canadian tax authority (whatever they're calling it these days) that one maintain no significant ties to Canada, financial or otherwise, if one is to avoid double taxation on income earned outside Canada. You are suggesting that following the rules of one arm of the Canadian government when living for extended periods overseas should somehow automatically abrogate one's claim to citizenship. Although I am willing to admit that this is often the way that bureaucracy ends up working, it is nonetheless powerfully dumb.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:40 PM on August 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Using your status as a Canadian citizen to emigrate to the United States is pretty Canadian thing to do, to be honest. Seriously, if you are in your prime working years and moving to LA, SF or NYC, or if you are retired and are spending your summers in Palm Springs or Scottsdale or Tampa, you are as Canadian as a beaver drinking maple syrup from one of those cheap plastic jugs for bagged milk.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:45 PM on August 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


With a CPC majority in Parliament, how exactly wouldn't it go through?

If the PM and his people in short pants think this might be more of a loser than the party needs looking to the election next year, they'll kill it. Unless the boss thinks it's super important and digs his heels in.

A leak like this is exactly how the PMO tries out draft legislation. They're looking to test the waters, to see how much people care. If enough tell them it's a stupid idea, it will be killed before coming to the floor of the house. It's an informal poll of public opinion. If they're lucky one of the big media companies will pay for an actual poll for them.
posted by bonehead at 8:48 PM on August 19, 2014


You can tell a trial balloon from a real leak, btw, by how much quacking is coming from the party in power. No complaints or witchhunt generally means that it's deliberate.
posted by bonehead at 8:52 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can't remember the electoral math, but the CPC typically targets a very narrow percentage of voters who might not normally come out to vote.

That is, there are the true-blue Tories that form the bedrock support of the Tories that will come out and vote no matter what (even if, say, Hugh Segal was the Leader). That gives the CPC about 30% or so of the popular vote.

There's another 10% of actual voters (but not the actual electorate, since voting rates are so low) the CPC needs to win a majority in a scenario where there are 3 major national parties (the Tories secured a majority in 2011 with 40% of the popular vote).

And so all of these petty, backwards policies (including reducing the GST etc etc) are aimed at this 10% of vote. Ford Nation, basically.
posted by Nevin at 9:01 PM on August 19, 2014


It seems that voting in federal elections is not dependent on residency.

Indeed! My brother just emailed me a photo of his re-registration for voting rights under the revised legislation.

Thank goodness for the Supreme Court... May they repeal every single bit of damage by this harper government.


On immigration... Another terrible change proposed for canada's Citizenship & migration Act is the ability of goverment to strip citizenship from new Canadians. Two tiered citizenship!

Canadians are primarily immigrants or have immigrant heritage. how soon we forget.

We also have a long history of racist immigration policy, so I also like to remember we defeated such policies once and can do it again.

Expats, register to vote again. And help us vote out Harper, please!!!
posted by chapps at 9:34 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, what a thread, I swing from highly amused at the way Mrs. Pterodactyl described the ornery rules of British passports to equally depressed at Divabats recollection of citizenship pains.

The only thing I know for certain is that I find it worrying that states are considering stripping people of citizenships now. And it's actually being done, not in Canada mind, but I was just reading this in the Telegraph:
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has also stripped British citizenship from identified jihadists who have dual nationality, including some born in the UK. They won’t be allowed back into the country. However, the law prohibits making an individual stateless (so it can’t be used against British citizens) and some dual nationals have given up their other citizenship to thwart government efforts to take away their UK rights.
Now, the double and triple citizenship ideas confuse me, as there are several factors at work, your mother, your father and (sometimes) your place of birth. A friend of mine is terribly annoyed that she can't have her three citizenships because it's her mother that's Iranian. Her current fiancé has an iranian father, so he has three citizenships (I forget where his mother is from). I was gobsmacked when they were discussing this as I had never even heard of the possibility of three citizenships before.
posted by dabitch at 1:54 AM on August 20, 2014


....also a country that passes citizenship through the father but NOT the mother? WTH?
posted by dabitch at 1:57 AM on August 20, 2014


Lots of countries don't care whether you have any other citizenship, so it's not particularly hard for some people to acquire two, three, or any number of nationalities. Consider this (genuinely) hypothetical situation: a Polish Jewish family settled in Berlin after WWI. They fled Germany after the introduction of the Nuremberg laws and settled in Northern Ireland, where they gave birth to a boy. After WW2 that child moved to Australia under the then-existing Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme.

By my reckoning, that boy (now an adult) is entitled to Polish citizenship by descent, still retains German citizenship (because he left involuntarily), has British citizenship by birth, and is entitled to both Irish and Australian citizenships - the former because of being born in Ireland, the latter because of the scheme under which he came to Australia. That's five passports without invoking any particularly unusual circumstances. Oh - he can probably get Israeli citizenship too, which would make six.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:32 AM on August 20, 2014


Yeah, Bangladesh didn't care if I had a zillion other citizenships (if my family tree was any indication. permanent migration out of Bangladesh was super common), but Malaysia only allowed one citizenship. The funny thing is, I was the only person in my family to not have surrendered my Bangladesh passport - they asked for my dad's, my mum volunteered hers, but they never said anything to me so I didn't offer. Good thing too - the only thing I miss about that passport was that at least the visas looked pretty.
posted by divabat at 4:15 AM on August 20, 2014


The USA used to have awesome visas. They were stamped with this huge stamp that took up most of a passport page, and the ink pad was a sort of rainbow of red and green and (maybe?) blue. Now they're just small monochrome jobs. THANKS OBAMA. Or whoever. Probably a Bush.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:02 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


In today's Toronto Star- figures on deportation from Canada, including to countries for which Canada has a deportation moratorium.
posted by beau jackson at 5:54 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


....also a country that passes citizenship through the father but NOT the mother? WTH?
I've checked into this, and the law in Austria until 1983 was that if the parents were married, citizenship followed the father, and if they weren't married, citizenship followed the mother. (It's still the case, I think, that the children of unwed parents can only have Austrian citizenship if the mother is Austrian.) I might have a fairly complicated claim to Austrian citizenship through descent, and that would have to be granted under the terms of Austrian citizenship law at the time of my father's birth, so all the weird gender stuff would come into play. And it's especially weird in my case, because I can't prove and am not even 100% sure that my grandparents ever got married.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:01 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The United States' proudest moment was making it a Constitutional doctrine that those born on US soil are, without dispute, US citizens. Thankfully, to change this, the government (or anyone else) would have to go through a ridiculous amount of difficulty, to the point where it's unlikely to happen.

I would have put the 13th amendment (emancipation) higher, but insofar as the 14th confirmed citizenship on former slaves, true enough. Of course, 1868 was still a time when coming to America demanded serious no foolin' commitment, and the benefits were pretty much whatever you could get for yourself, and there was plenty of land that needed tending. Good feelings notwithstanding, there's an argument to be made that times have changed enough after nearly 150 years that second thoughts at least worthy of consideration.

Moreover, I can see how someone born by sheer happenstance a US citizen might find the obligations (taxes, selective service) an unwelcome intrusion. "How dare you presume to make me a citizen of your country?"

Bangladesh didn't care if I had a zillion other citizenships (if my family tree was any indication. permanent migration out of Bangladesh was super common)

India closed off jus soli in part because of mass Bengali immigration. At least, as far as I understand it.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:07 AM on August 20, 2014


I was an ANCHOR BABY!!!!! before it was cool. My Italian parents used surrogacy in the US in 1985 so I ended up being born in Kentucky. I'm a dual citizen because of jus soli; I lived in Italy until I turned 20 and then moved to the US to go to college. I stayed after college, married an American man, and my daughter now has dual citizenship because of jus sanguinis. If my family were to move back to Italy my husband could eventually get Italian citizenship after a period of residency.

Does the option of moving to Europe in case things go to shit around here sound great? Well, yeah. But I pay taxes in both countries, I vote in both countries, I have family ties in both countries, and I travel frequently between both countries. I'm not sure what is so confusing - or threatening - about dual citizenship.
posted by lydhre at 7:26 AM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Moreover, I can see how someone born by sheer happenstance a US citizen might find the obligations (taxes, selective service) an unwelcome intrusion. "How dare you presume to make me a citizen of your country?"

Two women in Ontario are suing the federal government for complying with a new U.S. law that forces banks to turn over financial information of Canadian citizens to the IRS upon request.

It's not helping that the Harper government appears to agree (incorrectly) that U.S. law trumps Canadian law in Canada. And it violates the Charter by discriminating against people based on their nationality.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:32 AM on August 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


I pay taxes in both countries

Italy doesn't tax non-resident citizens, though.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:33 AM on August 20, 2014


In the last year, I've met a few babies who are Canadian citizens because they were born here. They all seemed very happy to be Canadian to me. I did not ask them about their potential future plans to pay taxes, move out of the country, etc; even if I had, I expect the answer would have been a cutely curious look and perhaps some kind of squeak. I'm glad they're here, and I hope this change does not happen.

The possible implications of this change in concert with the changes to refugee eligibility for health coverage are also pretty horrifying. Refugee and migrant women who give birth in Canada are already receiving severely compromised care because of their ineligibility for health coverage; obviously the Harper government would like to deny medical care to babies, too. Disgusting. (And terrible public health policy, also.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:34 AM on August 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm a Canadian PR; I'm waffling on getting dual citizenship mostly because I really don't want to swear an oath to ole Liz.

Given my home country of the US's attitudes to immigrants, I will sad and depressed if the country I really really like living in (I have no intention nor desire to ever to return to America) becomes just as assholish.
posted by Kitteh at 9:00 AM on August 20, 2014


I really don't want to swear an oath to ole Liz

You realize, of course, that as a Canadian citizen the Queen is simply a symbol of the power of the state. That is, your allegiance to the monarch is not, in any sense, a pledge of fealty to any individual (the Queen cannot, in her own person, give you an order that you would be honor bound to obey). The Queen symbolizes the state's power, but that power is wielded solely by the elected parliament.

It always seems to me that Britain's former colonies get a pretty nice deal out of the monarchy--they get a symbol of the state (practically speaking the Governor General plays this role more frequently than the Monarch) who is entirely divorced from actual political life. I always think it's a problem for the US that the head of state is also a political figure. One of the advantages of the Westminster parliamentary system is that governments can be dissolved and reformed without posing any kind of constitutional challenge or fundamental discontinuity in the governance of the state. You can't get rid of the President midway through a term without it being a catastrophic crisis. The constitutional fiction that the government is merely the executing the sovereign power that resides in the monarch allows for much greater political flexibility--and for a more engaged and open political process (the Prime Minister can be a much less exalted figure in Westminster systems than a President because s/he does not have to bear the ceremonial trappings of being head of state; which allows for the salutary rough-and-tumble of parliamentary question time and so forth).

I think this is all more complicated in the UK itself, where there's an ugly history of class privilege wrapped up in the monarch's position which continues to have real political consequence in society at large--but in the former colonies it seems to me that the advantages generally outweigh the disadvantages.
posted by yoink at 10:52 AM on August 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


lydhre brings up an important point. Being a citizen of a country isn't an unvarnished good. There's taxes, and civil responsibilities, and if there's ever a draft again possible eligibility for it to worry about.
posted by JHarris at 2:05 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I pay taxes in both countries

Italy doesn't tax non-resident citizens, though.


It does if you earn income in Italy or own property. I have different tax rates and I get some tax credits in the US but I still file and pay taxes in both countries.
posted by lydhre at 2:34 PM on August 20, 2014


It does if you earn income in Italy or own property.

Italy isn't special in this regard; pretty much every country (including Canada) taxes income sourced from that country, and considers you a resident for tax purposes if you have residential ties. The U.S. is unique in that it requires citizens to file tax returns even if neither of these things is true.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:27 PM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Most of the impetus behind this idiocy stems from the ugly debate 8 years ago around the evacuation of so-called 'Canadians of convenience' from Lebanon who were 'taking advantage' of 'the system' via their 'cheapened' Canadian passports.

By that reckoning, I suppose I'd really be an 'Italian of convenience,' instead of Canadian.

....also a country that passes citizenship through the father but NOT the mother? WTH?


I think it's changed now, but on birth in Kobe, Japanese law stated that I had to take my father's citizenship (Italian) instead of my mother's: a ton of male foreigners were marrying Japanese women during the '50s through '80s, but not too many the other way around. Horribly racist, but there it was.

We emigrated to Canada soon afterwards and all became citizens eight years later, in 1977. At the time, both Japan and Italy denied the possibility of accumulating multiple citizenships as well, so I lost my Italian papers when I became Canadian. My parents lost their respective passports as well. My brother was born in Winnipeg in 1972, so he became an anchor baby of sorts, although there didn't seem to be any real notion that we'd been prevented from attaining citizenship prior to that.

The Maastricht treaty in 1992 imposed changes to European citizenship, so Italy implemented a grandfather clause that former citizens who'd lost Italian status could get it back. It took a good 18 months and an inordinate amount of paperwork, but becoming Italian again led directly to my spending the better part of a decade in London and Italy with no questions asked.

It even made possible this:
  • British and Commonwealth citizens [check] with the right of abode [see below] in the UK are eligible to vote in local, national and EU elections;
  • Italian citizenship gave me that right of abode as an EU citizen [check], so I inquired with my council, so ...
  • I voted Lib Dem in the 1997 UK election
By contrast, on leaving Canada for work during the summer of 1992, I asked the embassy in Japan about voting in the Charlottetown Accord referendum. Their response? Basically, 'we have no provisions for expat citizens to vote in the referendum'.

If I remember correctly, that was another Tory government fuckup, too.

Canada really screwed up when it voted these petty-minded assholes into power.
posted by northtwilight at 5:04 PM on August 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Italy isn't special in this regard; pretty much every country (including Canada) taxes income sourced from that country, and considers you a resident for tax purposes if you have residential ties. The U.S. is unique in that it requires citizens to file tax returns even if neither of these things is true.

one more dead town's last parade, well, yes. I know.

You just seemed to be challenging the fact that I pay taxes in Italy as well as in the US. I am a non-resident and yet I pay taxes on income generated in Italy and on property I own there. Which is, indeed, standard operating procedure.
posted by lydhre at 5:06 PM on August 20, 2014


I might've missed this in reading the thread so far, but . . . someone indulge me this question. Say my wife and I, both American citizens, travel to Canada while she's pregnant, and to our surprise, she goes into labor and ends up giving birth there while we're visiting. Am I to understand that under the current laws of both countries, our child would be a both a Canadian citizen (by virtue of being born on Canadian soil) and a US citizen (by virtue of being born to two US citizen parents)?

And if that's correct, would it then become far easier for my wife and I to — if we wanted to — tack on Canadian citizenship to our American citizenship, by virtue of the fact that we are biological parents of a Canadian citizen?

Just, uhh, wondering.

/our due date is January 27
posted by CommonSense at 6:51 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


CommonSense, as I understand it, and this may well be wrong as immigration law isn't something I understand all that well: it would mean that once your kiddo turned eighteen, he/she would be able to apply for permanent resident status in Canada for you and your wife, as his/her parents... BUT, as part of the application, the kid would have to prove that he/she could support both of you for 5 years.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:24 PM on August 20, 2014


I am a non-resident and yet I pay taxes on income generated in Italy and on property I own there.

Right, but you are being taxed because you get income from Italy and own property there, not because you are an Italian citizen.

Back on topic, I've heard the idea of citizenship-based taxation for Canadians floated as a way to put a stop to people trying to get Canadian citizenship as a stepping stone to something else instead of as a goal in itself. I don't know that that would work.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:51 PM on August 20, 2014


Am I to understand that under the current laws of both countries, our child would be a both a Canadian citizen (by virtue of being born on Canadian soil) and a US citizen (by virtue of being born to two US citizen parents)?

As long as one of you has resided in the U.S. at some point in your life.

And if that's correct, would it then become far easier for my wife and I to — if we wanted to — tack on Canadian citizenship to our American citizenship, by virtue of the fact that we are biological parents of a Canadian citizen?

Under current rules, if you relied on being sponsored by your child (which they now restrict to 5,000 applications per year), you would probably not be a Canadian citizen before 2038.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:16 AM on August 21, 2014


I've heard the idea of citizenship-based taxation for Canadians floated as a way to put a stop to people trying to get Canadian citizenship as a stepping stone to something else instead of as a goal in itself.

That sounds like a tax hike in search of an excuse, not a problem being solved.
posted by jeather at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


You realize, of course, that as a Canadian citizen the Queen is simply a symbol of the power of the state.

I really believe that new citizens should be given the option of skipping the Queen and pledging allegiance directly to what the Queen symbolizes. It's way more meaningful anyway. How many people mouth those words without really understanding what they mean? How many say them reluctantly because they are not comfortable pledging allegiance to Elizabeth II?

It's the right thing to do- especially considering that the Queen and the monarchy can represent all kinds of things, imperialism, and class privilege as a commenter pointed out above (which is still relevant in Canada because so many new citizens do come from the UK and former British colonies).

Plus, I think we should just move on in general. Will we continue to ask new Canadians to pledge allegiance to King Charles? That will get people talking. It's gonna be be weird even to have his face on our money eventually.
posted by beau jackson at 12:19 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really believe that new citizens should be given the option of skipping the Queen and pledging allegiance directly to what the Queen symbolizes. It's way more meaningful anyway. How many people mouth those words without really understanding what they mean?

There are 77 million school-age children in the US who swear allegiance to a piece of cloth every morning. Invoking the Queen as the titular head of state isn't any stranger than that.
posted by GuyZero at 1:45 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Will we continue to ask new Canadians to pledge allegiance to King Charles?

More likely to be King William, but yes. See the Constitution for why.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:52 PM on August 21, 2014


There are 77 million school-age children in the US who swear allegiance to a piece of cloth every morning. Invoking the Queen as the titular head of state isn't any stranger than that.

I don't really know much about the Pledge of Allegiance but I do think a flag is a more straightforward symbol than a person and her heirs and successors. Anyway, my only point is that, in my opinion, new citizens should have the option to pledge allegiance directly to the country and its laws. Australia provides the option. It's pretty simple.
posted by beau jackson at 6:50 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyway, my only point is that, in my opinion, new citizens should have the option to pledge allegiance directly to the country and its laws.

So there's currently a court challenge about just this issue before the courts. The Ontario Court of Appeal just rejected the challenge to it on a number of reasons, but mainly by saying that the oath is to the country and its laws.

[54] Although the Queen is a person, in swearing allegiance to the Queen of Canada, the would-be citizen is swearing allegiance to a symbol of our form of government in Canada. This fact is reinforced by the oath’s reference to “the Queen of Canada,” instead of “the Queen.” It is not an oath to a foreign sovereign. Similarly, in today’s context, the reference in the oath to the Queen of Canada’s “heirs and successors” is a reference to the continuity of our form of government extending into the future.
(But the whole context of the quote is worth reading).

I don't really have an opinion either way on it. I know the Ontario Bar Association allows new lawyers to not make an oath to the Queen of Canada, while some other provinces require it. Given the choice I'd rather .. be given the choice, but I do agree with the judge that it's not a pledge to HM as a person.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:18 PM on August 21, 2014


American that I am, if I were ever to enter into a Canadian political context I'd probably be inclined to support republicanism, at least in a vague way (Yoink makes a good case for a separation of political leader and state symbol, although I think eliminating the monarch and keeping the governor general would be a better way to get the same effect).

The Canadian citizenship oath isn't really a direct oath to the individual sovereign, I agree, but would seem to preclude republican sentiments and I'd be uncomfortable with it on that basis. It's not a major thread of Canadian politics, but from what I can tell as an outsider it's not unheard of or the province only of radicals, so it seems funny to require naturalized citizens to swear on that particular point.

Alternatively, I suppose "be[ing] faithful and bear[ing] true allegiance" could arguably include the disestablishment of their positions based on the argument about how being born royalty is a shitty thing to happen to a kid.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:27 AM on August 22, 2014


Eh, don't think too hard about whether you're pledging allegiance to a flag or a queen or whatever. As I said before, the Malaysian government wanted me to pledge allegiance to the Ruling Party, fat chance of that happening.
posted by divabat at 8:39 PM on August 22, 2014


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