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'Lost Canadians' a bigger problem than thought

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CBC News has found that the number of people who have been stripped of Canadian citizenship - the so-called 'Lost Canadians' - is far greater than the federal government has let on.

Immigration Minister Diane Finely originally stated that her department was handling 450 cases of people affected by an obscure immigration law called the 1947 Citizenship Act that strips citizenship from those with unusual circumstances such as being born to a non-Canadian mother out of wedlock or to parents living overseas.

<$adv0> The problem came to light when the U.S. instituted tougher laws requiring Canadians to have passports to travel into the country. Many people applied only to discover that the government did not consider them Canadian.

CBC obtained documents under the Access to Information Act, which showed that 3,962 people lost their citizenship between 1998 and 2004. However, Minister Finley indicated earlier that Citizenship and Immigration Canada only knew of a small number of people who would be affected.

"While the problem is real and deserves immediate attention, there's no evidence it's as massive as has been reported in the media, or has been portrayed by some honorable members," Finely said in February.

When criticized recently by Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi, she held fast to her number of 450 and said that her department had already restored citizenship to 33 of those.

During hearings to be held soon in Ottawa, Finely said she would be open to making changes to the Citizenship Act if the committee recommended it.


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