Canadian father demands gov't help his son
TORONTO – Paul Compton has done exactly what the federal government recommended to get his son recognized as a Canadian citizen, but his problems have yet to be solved.
For the past five years the Ontario native has been corresponding with public servants, appealing to politicians and even relocated his family in a bid to rectify what he views as an unjust and precarious situation — now, he’s demanding action.
“They’ve been able to take away the rights of citizenship to my son,” Compton told The Canadian Press. “I will not allow the Canadian government to do this.”
The 45-year-old and his family have found themselves ensnared in a set of regulatory changes made to the Citizenship Act in 2009, which limits the ability to pass on Canadian citizenship to only the first generation of a family born abroad.
At the root of their problems is the fact that Compton was born in Scotland, where his parents were living while in university. He was brought to Canada when he was five months old and lived in the country until his early 30s.
A teacher by profession, Compton then got a job at an international school and moved to Lima, where he met his Peruvian wife.
His first son was born in Peru and automatically became a Canadian citizen. His second son, however, was born just months after the new rules came into effect.
The change meant that five-year-old Mateo is not a Canadian, even though his older brother is.
The new rules were part of legislation which solved the problems of thousands whose citizenship had been taken away by outdated legal provisions.
At the same time, however, the government said they were protecting the value of Canadian statehood by ensuring citizenship couldn’t be passed on from generation to generation of those living outside Canada.
The changes made Compton feel like a second-class Canadian.
He didn’t even find out about the new rules until he tried to apply for a Canadian passport for his son in 2010 and was denied.
“This is an injustice,” he said. “This could happen to any Canadian.”
The situation has only worsened over time.
After trying to deal with the matter from Peru, Compton returned to Ontario with his family in February last year.
He and his older son entered the country as Canadians, but Mateo, for whom he had to obtain a Peruvian passport, and Compton’s wife came in on visitor visas.
Once in the country, Compton applied for permanent residency for his son and his wife — an avenue the federal government recommended to gain citizenship for those affected by the new regulations — but after more than a year, the application is still being processed.
Compton is now asking that Mateo immediately be granted Canadian citizenship on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and is also asking that his wife’s application for permanent residency be expedited.
“I will accept nothing less than a passport for my son delivered to my door, with a permanent resident card for my wife,” he said, noting that his MP has raised his case with the citizenship and immigration minister, who Compton wants to meet.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it gives “the highest priority” to “family class” permanent residency applications — which Compton’s son and wife fall under. Children can also apply for citizenship as soon as they become permanent residents, a spokeswoman said.
But things haven’t worked out as Compton hoped.
In addition to waiting for his wife and son’s permanent residency, Compton recently learned the provincial health care he secured for Mateo on a temporary basis had been rescinded, as it was issued in error.
While shocked, he said the action was a symptom of the larger problem over his son’s fight for citizenship.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health notes that among the eligibility requirements for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, residents must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or “among one of the newcomer to Canada groups who are eligible for OHIP.”
Those who’ve submitted an application for permanent residence are part of those newcomer groups, but only if Citizenship and Immigration confirms they’ve met eligibility requirements to apply.
There are no provisions allowing OHIP to be granted on compassionate grounds or for any discretionary reason, a spokesman said.
By Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press