Since 1947, Canada has offered birthright citizenship. In short, this means that any child born on Canadian soil is automatically a Canadian citizen, regardless of their parents’ citizenship. However, Conservatives are looking to end the practice. The federal motion to do so was accepted on August 25, 2018 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The idea of abolishing birthright citizenship in Canada is not recent. In fact, the passing of this motion stems from a 2016 petition presented by Tory MP Alice Wong from Richmond, British Columbia. Like many Conservatives, Wong claimed birth tourism is becoming an evermore prevalent issue in Canada. Furthermore, she claimed that good neighbourhoods such as her own were becoming overrun by baby houses. The issue of these birthright citizens using chain migration to help their families obtain legal status was also mentioned.
Yet, these concerns may be factually unfounded. According to Statistics Canada, the number of babies born to non-Canadian mothers in 2016 was only 313, a stark decrease from 2012 which yielded 699 babies born to non-Canadian mothers.
There has been backlash against this decision. 230 nonprofits are protesting against it, and several high profile lawyers and politicians are speaking out against the motion. The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, lawyer Michael Niren and Richard Kurland say it is unconstitutional, complicated and against Canadian values. Although, many citizens are ignoring these caveats and are focusing on what system should be implemented next. Many support the Australian method of residency.
As a Canadian citizen with immigrant parents and grandparents, I can see that this policy is unfair. Regardless of how one becomes an immigrant, being one is hard. Immigrants face racism, poverty and the sheer terror of being in a place where they don’t know many, if any people and don’t speak the language. For all the hardships they bear, they do not ask for anything for themselves. They ask for the best for their innocent children who do not understand law and politics, but do understand hard work and sacrifice.
Additionally, some may point out that Canada and the United States are the only Western countries to maintain birthright citizenship. This fits into their historical context though. Unlike other colonies mostly meant for temporary labourers and slaves, Canada and the US were supposed to be a new beginning for the poor and ex-criminals. Birthright citizenship offers a new beginning for a new generation of families. That is Canada’s legacy, so why should any innocent child who will later happily contribute to the place they call home, be denied citizenship? If being Canadian is about hope and new beginnings, they are Canadian through and through, and should be considered as such.
We should not let fear of change and differences divide us. Rather, we should let change and our differences bring us closer to strengthen us.
Canada Considers Removing Citizenship By Birth. (2018, August 27). In Foreign Worker Canada. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from http://www.canadianimmigration.net/news-articles/canada-considers-removing-citizenship-by-birt
Dangerfield, K. (2018, August 27). Conservatives want to end ‘birth tourism’ in Canada — but what exactly is the contested issue?. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://globalnews.ca/news/4411137/birth-tourism-canada/
Humphrey, M. (2018, August 27). Tory motion to end birthright citizenship is ‘just not workable,’ says immigration lawyer. In CBC News. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/birth-citizenship-value-1.4801136