‘Dual Citizenship’

Dual citizenship creates two categories of citizenship, and brings up obvious questions of loyalty and allegiance… 

 “Prior to 1947 and the introduction of the first ‘Citizenship Act’, there was legally no such thing as Canadian citizenship. Both native-born and naturalized citizens were British subjects. In 1977, the current ‘Citizenship Act’ came into force, making extensive changes to the law. The effect was to make citizenship more widely available (for example, by reducing the period of residency required from five to three years)…

“The Act also provided that Canadians could hold dual citizenship, reversing the previous situation in which citizenship was lost upon the acquisition of the citizenship of another country. An important conceptual change also came about in 1977, when citizenship became a ‘right’ for qualified applicants, rather than a privilege as it had been in the past… 

‘F. Dual Citizenship’

“As noted, changes introduced by the 1977 Act permit dual citizenship. Before that time, Canadians who voluntarily acquired another citizenship, except by marriage, lost their Canadian citizenship. Until 1973, the regulations had also required applicants for citizenship to renounce their former citizenship, although whether that renunciation was legally effective depended on the law of the former homeland. When the government asked the Standing Committee to provide advice to the government in 1994, it did not highlight the issue as one that needed addressing, nor has it done so since.

“Nevertheless, during its hearings, the Committee agreed with a number of witnesses who questioned the meaning of loyalty and allegiance where people hold dual or multiple citizenships and suggested that such a policy devalues the meaning of Canadian citizenship. For this and other reasons, the Committee recommended that the government explore the possibility of reinstating the former rules, so that an adult Canadian citizen who voluntarily and formally acquired the citizenship of another country would cease to be a Canadian citizen.”

Margaret Young, Law and Government Division, October 1997


Feature IMAGE: ‘Canadian Citizenship’ stamp (Scott #275) was issued by Canada’s Post Office Department in 1947.
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