You May Be a Canadian and Not Even Know It!
Posted on April 17, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 47 Comments
Canada has changed its citizenship law, today, to include as citizens a bunch of folks who may not have suspected their own inborn, inherent Canadian-ness. So it’s entirely possible you are now a Canadian. Congratulations, have some poutine. Here are all the details, in case you want to gauge if you’ve suddenly become a stealth Canadian. And here’s a goofy YouTube video made about it.
I have not personally become a stealth Canadian, but I still have a big ol’ crush on Sarah McLachlan. Also, I want some Mackintosh’s toffee right now. Someone please send me some. A grateful non-Canadian thanks you in advance.
For the first time I wish I were a Canadian war bride. I guess that’s because I never thought about it before.
Wow, I haven’t had any Mackintosh toffee for years and years. Mostly because I literally pulled fillings out of my teeth eating that stuff. Imagine the taste of toffee sweetness mixed with the sour tangy metal taste of amalgam fillings….
There are worse things to wake up to than being Canadian.
At the same time as they’re doing this, they’re also tightening up the rules for passing on citizenship going forward. For instance, it looks like natural-born Canadian citizens who were born outside Canada can no longer automatically pass along Canadian citizenship to any children of *theirs* born outside Canada. I think the old rule was that they could as long as they (as parents) lived in Canada for a certain number of years previously. Some folks in our family are affected by these rule changes.
Cool! I think my mom may secretly be Canadian!
Are you accusing me of having beady eyes and a separating head? If you didn’t have a bear for a pet I’d say them’s fighting words. As it is, I’d just like to say that I have lots of Canadian friends and they’re okay, beady eyes and all.
I was wondering why I woke up with a sudden urge to speak French and secede from my neighbors. I sure am glad that’s answered.
Time to go back to bed.
I grew up 40 miles from the border. My mom liked shopping in Canada because she could get a little more bang for the back. We would get Mackintosh’s every time. And then my brother and I would sell bites of toffee for a nickel on Little League bus trips. I don’t think my ancient teeth could take it now but gods it was good.
I ran over hoping that “Loving all things Canadian” would be a requirement and I might have a chance. Sadly, no, I’m still American.
You’ll have to get in line behind me for Sarah McLachlan, mister. I saw her live the first time in 1991 at a tiny club in Nashville. I was fourth row center, right next to the aisle and I swear she was singing to me the whole night. It’s been unrequited love ever since.
I am sadly not a stealth Canadian, but I’ve been crushing on Great Big Sea for years!
…. though hrmm, that may just make me an honorary Newfoundlander. ;)
I was coming by to say what John Mark said @4. This law makes my daughter a second-class Canadian whose children (my grandchildren) are not automatically entitled to Canadian citizenship. I think it’s disgraceful immigration-bashing and fearmongering, always a cheap and easy way to win votes in a down economy: “These fake Canadians will flood our country and take our jobs!”
I’m a non-stealth Canadian, and while Sarah McLaughlin is awesome, I’m partial to Sarah Slean myself. Now I have a craving for toffee too; I’ll have to rectify this!
You know, most of the candy I used to get as a kid has changed, gotten less creamy/more artificial/less chocolate or what have you.
Mackintosh’s wasn’t completely unaffected: the slab has shrunk, and is not as neatly shaped. It is wrapped in cellophane rather than wax paper (yes, I am that old)… but the toffee tastes the same as it did 40 years ago.
Thank you for reminding me. I am going to pick some up today and hope I don’t pull an aging filling with it.
Drat. I overnighted 3 times in Montréal and once in Toronto. I love butter tarts. I had sweet and surprising, um, never mind. Some of my best friends?
Curses, foiled again!
I fell in love with a Canadian once. I wanted to marry him, even though it meant moving to Halifax, but alas, he had no such feelings for me.
I don’t believe it. It appears up until today I could have claimed Canadian citizenship, but today I can’t.
[They have limited citizenship-by-descent to one generation, whereas previously it apparently was infinite, and I can prove descent from a Canadian citizen, but I have to go back several generations to the 19th century to do it.]
It doesn’t seem possible fully to work out what its effect is unless you know what previous citizenship acts said. Nevertheless it seems that it may, in fact, make me a Canadian. On the other hand I may have been one before. I have never thought of myself as a Canadian, and have never been anywhere near Canada – or at least the North American part thereof.
TransDutch: It sounds from what you said like you wouldn’t be eligible under the old rules. The old rule (which I’ve now looked up; I had it wrong before) was that if your Canadian parents were born outside of Canada, you could apply for Canadian citizenship before reaching the age of 28; but if you didn’t, you lost it.
So if your closest Canada-born ancestors were 3 or more generations back, and your parents in that line didn’t apply for citizenship in time, you weren’t (and aren’t) eligible, since your parents wouldn’t have had citizenship to pass along to you.
Our family’s in a similar situation to the one Cory gives at #12. Under the old rules, any future grandchildren of mine and Mary’s would be Canadians if they applied for such status before reaching 28. Under the new rules, they won’t be Canadians unless they’re born there, or immigrate like anyone else. (They would at least have one advantage over some other immigrants, though, if they moved to Canada as kids: their Canadian parents would be automatically eligible to sponsor them.)
Mind you, I Am Not An Immigration (or any other kind of) Lawyer; anyone reading this who’s seriously interested in claiming Canadian citizenship for themselves or their kids might want to talk to one.
Woohoo, my brother is a Canadian citizen today!
(I already was; my parents filed the paperwork for me when I was born, but somehow neglected to do so for my brother, and he’d missed the cutoff to do it himself.)
I suppose it’s not so bad waking up as a Canadien. Imagine if you woke up as a Maple Leaf!
What? We were only doing hockey jokes yesterday? Oh crap!
AtP – that depends. How much do you drink?
Cory – it’s not that (and even with the changes, all your grandchildren need to do is either be born in Canada or have their parents decide to live in Canada). I’m not saying it’s not bigoted and wrong (on the other hand, I’m not saying it’s not right in some cases), but it’s in response to comments that kicked into high gear with the evacuation from Lebanon in 2006 (and in particular, the return to Lebanon in 2006). The term to search for is “citizens of convenience”; those who live full-time in another country, want to remain there, but get and maintain Canadian Citizenship for one of four reasons:
– When living in the country becomes uncomfortable/untenable (depending on who you talk to), they can escape to a nice safe (cold) country until the shooting dies down. If you’re lucky, for free.
– It’s a lot easier to travel on a Canadian passport than on many others (especially if you look Muslim). It doesn’t save everybody, though – ask Maher Arar.
– There are a quarter of a million Canadians living in Hong Kong, and who have done so since about age 1 month – strangely enough, almost all of them are between 11 and 17 (this may be a subset of the first one, but in this case it was more what was known as “birth tourism”, and that hasn’t been stopped).
– There are some (of course, this is described as many, and also “well, not many now, but wait until they all get older”) who keep Canadian citizenship so that they can get treated in Canadian hospitals on the Canadian dime.
I think most of that is traditional CCRAP base xenophobia (and I used to have both Preston Manning and Stephen Harper as my MP, so I’ve heard way too much about it) blown out of all proportion, but they do have a point. Whether the cost of the point is more than a drop in the bucket (or, say, a Red River Rescue or Autoroute 40 bridge collapse a year) I don’t know.
TransDutch: probably you couldn’t before yesterday, either. My reading of the questions on the government site is that even before, if you were second-generation outside Canada, and you didn’t “take steps” to show connection to Canada (live here for a year, or prove substantial connection, whatever that means), citizenship would be revoked on your 28th birthday.
You know, I’m going to put a hurt on the Montreal Poutine industry during Anticipation.
Nothing I love better.
Oh yeah, I checked, I’m not a Canadian now, though it does make one of my cousins a Canadian!
Oh, whew. I was afraid they were going to say that they were now recognizing “contact citizenship”. My ex was Canadian; believe me, the stuff clings to you. It took me a couple of years to stop saying “eh?” and Mr. Mythago tells me that I do, in fact, revert to saying things like “aboot” when I’m really stressed.
Good donuts, though.
I have taken the questionnaire. I find it hard to believe having never set foot in Canada, and having parents who have never set foot in Canada, that I still am not Canadian. Why did they pass these new laws, if not to make complete Canadian outsiders Canadians?
On a side note, blame Canada. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYSYipouABI
Okay, just to get the earworm out of my head and into someone elses: “If you’re Canadian and you know it, clap your hands…….”
Aww, I thought it was going to be something devious, instead of the usual middling-to-incompetence Harper crap.
I had a great Canadian World Domination rant coming together too… With orbital railguns that fired stale timbits and cyborg beaver demolition squads…
Oh well. Maybe next time. =)
They stopped making Mack’s toffee in the bars this year, choosing instead to only sell it in pieces. Bakers everywhere freaked out. I wonder if they’ll fix this.
So does this mean that when I get my annual checkup, my doctor will have to test for hidden Canadianism? Will my health insurance cover that?
@ Captain Button – 29: Look on the bright side. If Canadianism is found by your doctor, your Canadian citizenship gets you access to Canada’s healthcare system, and I believe they fully cover that condition. If you lack Canadianism, well, I don’t think the test is that expensive in the US.
Not necessarily a definitive indicator, but are you either a hockey fan (possibly rabidly so) or a fan of curling? I am a bit of a rabid fan of both, and am not Canadian. Weird, eh? I’d be fine with partial Canadianism. Canadians can definitely bring the funny (Colin Mochrie, to name a randomly hilarious one), and the many Canadians I know just generally rock and/or are +5 Awesome.
In an alternate world, Franz Kafka was a happy-go-lucky guy who wrote relentlessly cheerful stories:
“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a Canadian.”
@ 29. If you test positive for Canaditis, your check up will be paid for by the Medical Services Plan of your province. Ah, the heady scent of socialized medicine! Your taxes will be going up too, of course…
Seriously, Cory Doctorow is right. This thing has some good aspects and some weird and kind of nasty ones as well. Am I wrong in thinking that this will help a lot of the Lost Canadians, the ones born to soldiers and diplomats and expats overseas, especially during the Cold War? I’ve spoken to a couple of those as a reporter – they thought they were Canadians for years, but suddenly found their citizenship revoked. One woman I met had some serious trouble getting her driver’s license renewed because she was in legal limbo.
My grandmother was a “stealth Canadian.” She never knew she wasn’t an American citizen until she turned 21 and tried to vote. They asked for an American birth certificate, and she didn’t have one. Only a Canadian one.
Her parents immigrated to Canada back in the early 1900s, under a homesteading program they had in Alberta. Her parents became Canadian citizens without having to go through a lot of paperwork, and she and her older sister were both born in Canada. But the cold aggravated the great-grandmom’s rheumatoid arthritis, and so when my grandma was still a baby, they headed south, to Iowa. But never bothered to do any paperwork. (By the time my grandparents met, the Canadian family had moved all the way to San Antonio, TX, hunting warm weather…)
It took Grandma 9 years to get her citizenship straightened out and de-Canada-ize herself, because there was no record of her ever coming into the USA.
My Irish-German Canadian grandmother was an illegal alien…
ryber: yes, it is indeed true that treatment for Canadianism is covered under provincial health-care; unfortunately Health Canada will not fund procedures that intend to sponsor research leading to cures.
argh, intend to *or* sponsor…
@John Mark and Cory: if your children were born outside of Canada and never lived in Canada, and their children were born outside of Canada and never lived in Canada, why should they be considered Canadian? Why would they want to be?
This is fascinating…my father emigrated here when he was a kid. If I read that right, if he never overtly renounced his Canadian citizenship, I could be in!
I live and work in Canada but am not a Canadian citizen. It honestly hasn’t bothered me that much to date and, after rreading the article linked to, I have to say it still doesn’t bother me too much.
However I have been known to eat both Poutine and Mackintosh’s toffee so maybe I could claim some kind of honourary status . . .
It could be worse; a blanc-mange from the planet Skyron could turn you into a Scotsman!
@Paul: Actually, in the case you describe (where neither our kids or grandkids ever live in Canada), I don’t think the grandkids necessarily should be Canadian.
(And I don’t think they necessarily were under the old rules; if I recall correctly, the “before you turn 28” applications weren’t approved automatically, but required you to show an ongoing, significant connection to Canada. Though I’m not familiar with what this entailed in practice.)
Cory’s right about the “second class” part, though, because under the new rules, even if we move back to Canada while our kids are still small, and live there for decades, our kids will *never* be able to pass on Canadian citizenship themselves. (For instance, if they go abroad for a year and have a child while abroad, the child would not be Canadian). On the other hand, if our neighbors in the US, whose family have never set foot in Canada, move along with us, and then naturalize, the kids in the family *could* pass on Canadian citizenship, even though they’ve lived in Canada the same amount of time as our kids.
My preference would be to add a rule that Canadians born abroad become eligible to pass on Canadian citizenship after they’ve lived in Canada for the time period that’s required for immigrants to gain citizenship. That would rectify the imbalance above, while still preventing “citizenship of convenience” from getting out of hand.
Well, I am relieved to discover that I am STILL Canadian. Seriously, if it is becoming a limited commodity, they might take mine and give it to someone else. I will fight for the warm Hudson’s Bay blanket of national identity and to speak for myself, eh?
I am Canadian
I am not Canadian (which applies more correctly to me in anycase)
Vive le differance!!
MikeB@38: Further proof of your honourary Canadianness is that you write ‘honourary’. I think this is absolutely distinctive of Canada. Americans write ‘honorary’, obviously, as they write ‘honor’. Brits also write ‘honorary’ (even though they write ‘honourable’); I guess they treat the word as derived directly from the Latin, rather from the English ‘honour’. Canadians, however, knowing that the word is ‘honour’, damn it, often affirm this by writing ‘honourary’.
I won’t be happy until the powers that be adequately define collateral Canadianness – I mean, OK, I’ve never set foot in Canada. But I live in another Commonwealth country with socialized medicine, think the Arrogant Worms are the last word in contemporary novelty songs and played the PS2’s Winter Olympics curling game almost until I wore out the electrons. Also, I speak French. Surely all of that, plus the fact that I am married to someone who is asked *all the time* if he is from Canada, must qualify me for some percentage of Canadianness? I may not be a whole Canadian, but surely I’m fairly Canadian, in the grand scheme of things, right?
I mean, eh?
My great-great grandparents were Canadian (Quebecois) before they wandered south of the Canadian border and wound up in Vermont.
When I was a kid visiting my grandparents, we’d drive up to Canada to have lunch or look for moose. It’ll be weird to have to pull out a passport when we drive to Montreal this summer.
I was hoping to slip in on a French-related technicality… hope all is well, John.
My grand_mom is Canadian born in Prince Edward Island & she has a co-adoption agreement over me w/ another family so I guess I may qualify as Canadian.