TORONTO - It’s the hottest topic on the international issues landscape. Does location of birth determine citizenship (jus soli)? Zenophobes, borderline racists, in Europe and the Americas respond with a resounding NO.
It is, regrettably, not a partisan matter. Nor is Canada immune from these socio-political discussions. Most recently, the issue surfaced at a Canadian Conservative Party summer Caucus held in Halifax.
Members from a riding association in Newfoundland succeeded in having their Motion to deprive "anchor babies" of a citizenship obtained by having been born in Canada.
Apparently, these "anchor babies" are sprouting like unwanted dandelions in, of all places, Richmond, British Columbia. Briefly, the contagion works something like this: forward-looking Asians (allegedly primarily Orientals) book flights etc. to British Columbia so that they can give birth to a child, who automatically becomes a citizen and thus exercise the rights of citizenship – at a later date.
These "birth tourists" clearly have some disposable income.
They probably also need to make some investments in Canada - even if it is simply in the acquisition of residences for their children to inhabit - later. But it is a real problem say the proponents of the anti-citizenship- by-birthright brigade.
Statistics Canada reported 313 such "anchor baby" births in 2016, whose mother’s official residence was not in Canada. 387,516 live births were recorded in 2016 as against 267,213 deaths. A net gain of 120,303. For Demographers concerned about maintaining our population, and economic growth rate these numbers are cause for concern.
According to them, Canada needs about 370,000 (1% of our population) more births than deaths to sustain our current levels of human resources competitiveness.
That suggests Canada fell some 250,000 short of the mark, in 2016. It is little wonder that Gerald Butts, principal advisor to the Prime Minister, tweeted out a "tut-tut" admonition to those anti- immigrant Conservatives. Except that a member of his own caucus from British Columbia is one of those most adversarial to the "anchor babies" menace.
Then last week, a Canadian Press wire story about a Federal Justice Department Officials proceeding, in Court, against the Canadian- born children of alleged Russian spies, once again stoked anti-immigrant fires in our country.
And, the seeming duplicity of the government. Those Justice Department lawyers were arguing a case on behalf of the Minster of Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen.
Through him the Government is attempting to deprive Alexander and Timothy Vavilov, "the offspring" of Russian Intelligence agents of their citizenship acquired by right of birth - jus soli.
The Government’s official position, as argued in Court, is that, unless one of the parents is either a Permanent Resident or a Canadian citizen, no child born in this country has automatic right to citizenship. Otherwise, they are not like us. They don’t deserve what we [think we] have.
The government’s is a more serious opinion than that of the usual partisan. It has the tools to enforce Court decisions or the interpretations of its own officials.
So, it can and does deport "the unwanted". Ministers Ralph Goodale and Ahmed Hussen are proceeding to deport as many children as they can find, whether “anchor babies” or children of the “undocumented workers”.
Notwithstanding a Supreme Court directive (December 10, 2015) that the best interests of the child take precedence. This would augur poorly for the children of Demitre family. Two of them were born here; two others have been here for 5 years. Their parents entered the country legally. They want to stay.
The offices of both Goodale and Hussen shift responsibility for the file onto their colleagues in the other Department. Other Ministers have suggested that maybe it’s because the Demitre are Italian. We hope not.