In the Canadian legal blog SLAW, Alex Manevich writes the following
Let's consider a few examples.
Jane Canuck is born in the U.S. of Canadian parents, while her family is living there briefly. When she is a month old, her family returns to Canada, where she grows up and lives.
Under which of the following circumstances will Jane's child be born a Canadian citizen?
(a) Jane moves to England as an adult, where she has a child by her English husband.
(b) Jane is living in Canada with her husband, a landed immigrant. She is scheduled to give birth in Toronto, but at the last minute is diverted to Buffalo because of a hospital bed shortage.
(c) Jane is living in Canada but working temporarily abroad for a Canadian NGO, when she becomes pregnant by her non-Canadian boyfriend. She plans to return to Canada to give birth, but the child is born prematurely, while she is still abroad.
If you answered "none of the above", well done. That's correct: Canadians who acquire citizenship by being born abroad to (or adopted abroad by) Canadian parents cannot pass along their citizenship to their children unless those children are born in Canada – regardless of how many years they live in Canada, the strength of their connection to this country, or the circumstances under which they gave birth to the second generation abroad (aside from military or diplomatic service). In all three scenarios, Jane's child would have to be sponsored by her mother as an immigrant, then be naturalized, in order to acquire Canadian citizenship.
The government insists that the "one generation rule" is merely to prevent indefinite transmission of Canadian citizenship across multiple generations, to people who were neither born nor have ever lived here, and have no connection at all to Canada other than ancestry: according to Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney, "we want to limit it to those people who have some kind of enduring presence or commitment to Canada." Not an unreasonable policy, on its face – but in my view section 3(3) is an ill-thought out way to go about it. I doubt many people would argue that the latter two examples above are the sorts of situations intended to be captured by the rule. Even the result in the first example seems inequitable, given that had Jane been born just a month later her child would automatically be a Canadian citizen.
Now let's consider another example: Sam Yankee is born in Canada of U.S parents, while his family is living here briefly. When he is a month old, his family returns to the U.S., where he grows up and lives, never returning to Canada. Should his children with a non-Canadian partner inherit Canadian citizenship? Under the new rules, they would. (One can understand if Jane, on hearing this, might feel more than a bit annoyed.)
In short, the new rule creates two tiers of citizenship: those who acquire citizenship by being born or naturalized here, regardless of their lack of connection to Canada, automatically pass citizenship to their children. Those who acquire citizenship solely by virtue of being born to (or adopted by) Canadians, however connected to Canada they may be, cannot pass citizenship to their children.
My eldest daughter, Trudi, is a full Canadian citizen, and can pass on her citizenship to her children. My youngest daughter, Isabel, was born after the rule went into effect. Even if they both marry Canadians, if they have their babies outside of Canada, only the offspring of my eldest will have Canadian citizenship. This is just wrong, wrong, wrong!
I've been aware of this for some time, but I think I'm going to have to start getting active about this. Are there other Canadians out there as upset about this as I am? If you are, please get in touch.