I'm sorry, but you are no longer a Canadian.
Date: Wednesday, January 24 2007
Passport applicants find they're not Canadian
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | 6:04 PM ET
Hundreds of people are suddenly discovering that they are not Canadians as new laws requiring travellers to have a passport to fly to the U.S. go into effect Tuesday, CBC's investigative unit has learned.
Many applying for a Canadian passport have been informed their chance to remain a citizen expired years ago because of an obscure provision in the Citizenship Act, a little-known law that applied between 1947 and 1977.
The law states that if you lived outside Canada on your 24th birthday and failed to sign the right form, you automatically lost your citizenship.
Barbara Porteous applied for a passport last year and was told in a letter from Citizenship and Immigration that she would have to apply to become a landed immigrant after spending most of her 70 years in Canada.
"These documents confirm you were a Canadian citizen, but you ceased being a Canadian citizen on June 14, 1960, the day following your 24th birthday," the letter read.
A Canadian born in the U.S. to a Canadian father, Porteous has lived in Osoyoos, B.C., for the last 46 years and even worked as a returning officer for Elections Canada.
"I cried for a couple of hours," Porteous told CBC News. "I mean, the hollowness you get inside when you find out that everything you live for is gone."
Porteous is part of a group known as the Lost Canadians. According to Canadian census data, there are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people in Canada who could find out they've lost their citizenship if they apply for a passport.
Porteous said her life could be ruined by a technicality she was never told about.
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 24, 2007]