Candian Citizenship Laws

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A Mesa man is waging war with Canada over that country’s citizenship laws.

Ted Simons: As state lawmakers attempt to challenge the U.S. constitution's definition of citizenship, a man in Mesa has been challenging Canada's citizenship laws for years. Here to explain is Don Chapman, the founder of Lost Canadians, which advocates for people it believes have been wrongly denied citizenship in Canada. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us. This is a -- I want to keep this as simple as possible. Boy this is a complicated issue. Lost Canadians, what are we talking about here?

Don Chapman: Canada became a country, if you will, in 1867 under what was called the British North American act. A year later they adopted their first form of unique Canadian identity. But it was written by the British. Here's the exact wording. "married women, minors, lunatics, and idiots will be classified under the same disability for their national status."

Don Chapman: And it took only 142 years and somebody from Mesa to try to get that law off the books.

Ted Simons: So a lost Canadian is someone who was what born in Canada, has --

Don Chapman: there were 12 ways to lose citizenship. In fact I was born in Canada. Had I been born in United States I would have been Canadian. Don't try to make any sense out of these things, but if somebody goes to my webpage, which is, you can download and look at the 12 different ways to lose citizenship. It could be that you were born in Canada, born out of Canada, that your birth was to a Canadian mother. Or maybe a foreign mother. In wedlock, out of wedlock. It was so nutty, it became where even the parliamentarians didn't know their own laws, and it wasn't until I started proving -- several members of Parliament weren't Canadian, that they took an interest in this bill.

Ted Simons: This all goes back to a 1947, which kind of established Canadian citizenship? Is that correct?

Don Chapman: Canada was the first country -- yes. Canada was the first country that made an allied landing in Europe. They did it I believe -- I want to say it was August 19th of 1941. The Canadians just got massacred. The Brits were very good at sacrificing their commonwealth cousins. It was after World War II that a senior cabinet minister went, there saw the graveyards, 707 Canadian soldiers and realized that these soldiers died not as Canadians, but as British subjects. There was no such thing as a Canadian citizen until 1947. They were British subjects. Canadian nationals. And Canadiens aren't really that familiar with these laws. If you go around and talk to Canadiens, they really are quite unaware. And the median -- media has not been very good at publicizing a lot of this.

Ted Simons: If you were born out of wedlock before 1947, are you a Canadian citizen?

Don Chapman: Let me give you two examples. One was denied because he was born in wedlock and one was denied because he was born out of wedlock. I have fixed the law for 95% of the people, but I'm an airline pilot. I'm not satisfied if I ditch an airplane in the Hudson river by leaving 5% of my people behind. What general would be revered if they left 5% of their troops behind? Canada and the current prime minister is happy leaving 5% behind. And my law fixed it for almost everybody but we have problems with the pre-'47 births. So living in the valley right here is Jackie Scott. Jackie was born out of wedlock to a British war bride mother and a Canadian soldier father. And because these Canadians were in Europe and they knew they were probably going to die, the government didn't want them to marry before they went to battle because then they'd have a financial liability of a wife and a child. So they would not allow the soldiers to marry until after the war. Jackie's parents married, they came to Canada. Because Jackie was born out of wedlock, today they're saying you were property of your mother, not your father and therefore you're not Canadian.

Ted Simons: When they say therefore you're not Canadian, for a lot of these folks, born pre-1947, you're getting ready for benefits, you're getting ready for all sorts of things and the government is saying you're not a citizen?

Don Chapman: That is not just that, here's one that would raise the hairs of every American. Born in Canada in 1926, in Montreal, to a Canadian mother and U.S. father now in wedlock. Gi voted in Canada, paid taxes, married, had a family and he was a Canadian soldier in World War II. But because he was born in wedlock, when he had a stroke a few years ago, they denied him his medical benefits. And the answer is yes, they are denying medical, they're denying pension benefits. These are people that have served for Canada, even general Romeo Dallaire, he's now a senator. He was stripped of his citizenship.

Ted Simons: I know there was a bill passed in 2009 --

Don Chapman: That was the bill I was behind.

Ted Simons: Which you were very much behind. And it seemed like it did some good.

Don Chapman: 95%.

Ted Simons: So that's the 95 one right.

Don Chapman: That's the 95%.

Ted Simons: What -- I know this is coming from a distance here, but why doesn't the government look at this and go, there's a whole lot of trouble here, there are 12 different ways we can mess up people's lives. Let's just tie it up in a bow and get this issue over with.

Don Chapman: That's the million dollar question that needs to go to the Prime Minister of Canada. Right now the Canadian government in doing what they're doing, three weeks ago we had a little 3-year-old baby girl turned down for citizenship only because of gender. So the government of Canada is violating two Supreme Court decisions of Canada. Three United Nations conventions on human rights, chart rights in freedoms, the rule of law and the 1948 declaration of human rights written by a Canadian. So I'd have to ask the prime minister. Why? It's so simple. One time I testified before the senate of Canada, and they asked me that question. And I said, I give the government the same advice as I give my children. Admit your mistake, correct it and go on with life.

Ted Simons: Is that it, basically just you have to admit a mistake? These are antiquated laws.

Don Chapman: they are antiquated laws. I even have a gentleman whose a registered native Canadian Indian. And they're denying him citizenship. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? He could be the chief. He could be the guy squaring off with the prime minister saying, but you're in my country.

Ted Simons: OK, what kind of recourse do some of these Lost Canadians have? Take an individual case, will they address these and make amends individually or just not --

Don Chapman: They want to do it individually. What I find interesting is it's been through the Supreme Court saying you cannot deny citizenship based on gender. I brought that up one time before the senate of Canada and what was the bureaucratic answer? We didn't like the Supreme Court decision, so they said we're not going to honor it anymore. This is a huge difference between Americans and Canadians. Quite Frankly, the best is kind of a hybrid. Canadians should be more like the Americans and Americans may be more like the Canadians. We're children of a common mother, but the Canadians are very complacent. And here is the Supreme Court of the country being ignored and they're ignorant of that or they say it doesn't affect me.

Ted Simons: Apathy.

Don Chapman: Apathy -- in the United States, there is no way that you could take World War II veterans and strip them of their rights and people wouldn't come just unglued on this. But Canadians seem OK with it. I don't -- that's a question -- since I was brought up in the U.S., and I have that side of me, I don't get it.

Ted Simons: Yeah. It just seems like -- it's -- if it's that number of folks who have been there for that long, and are de facto Canadian citizens, make them Canadian citizens.

Don Chapman: Make them citizens. It's really quite clear. And here's another thing. Just follow the United Nations laws, the conventions they've signed up to. Canadians love to put their nose in the air a little bit and say we're number one. On human rights, compassion, fairness. They touted that very much in the Olympics, but if you went to the Olympics on the opening ceremonies, the first four people that were carrying that flag in all were kind of had Lost Canadians in their family and the closing ceremonies, three out of the several entertainers were lost Canadians.

Ted Simons: We've only got about 30 seconds. So you've got to make it quick, but why are you so passionate about this? You're not apathetic, how come?

Don Chapman: I think that's my American side. I think that the fact is that my father was a World War II soldier for Canada, when he died he was not Canadian, he couldn't even be a member of the Canadian legion. It's not that he cared to be a member, it was -- but I want it to be his right. These people who fought for us in World War II, they're too old to fight their battles, so I decided I'll fight it for them.

Ted Simons: It's All right. Very good. Don, thanks for joining us fascinating story.

Don Chapman: One person can make a difference.

Ted Simons: Apparently. Good for you. Thanks for joining us.

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