Conservatives lost on Lost Canadians


Ian Jacques / Editor
June 5, 2014 12:39 PM

When you do a Google search for the name Don Chapman, news articles, blogs and stories come up on your computer screen — some dating back more than a decade — all concerning Lost Canadians.

Chapman is the leader of the Lost Canadians. Born in Vancouver, he lost his citizenship when he was six years old. At that time, his father took a job in the U.S. that required the elder Chapman to become an American citizen. The laws at the time made children and wives men’s chattels, which meant all the Chapmans became Americans.

Chapman has lived in Gibsons for many years and has been fighting to get back his citizenship since he became an adult. Five years ago he succeeded.

Loyal readers of Coast Reporter are very familiar with Chapman’s story as we have detailed his struggle, his highs and his lows for many years.

We were there in Ottawa in 2009 when associate publisher Cathie Roy had the privilege of witnessing, alongside Chapman, significant changes to the citizenship act. That legislation, however, did not address all the issues, so Don’s fight has continued.

Don has had a less than cordial relationship with government since Jason Kenney became citizenship minister in late 2008, which has continued since Chris Alexander took office in July 2013. We will admit that Don can be a bit brash at times, but when you are as passionate about this issue as Don is, can you really blame him?

On May 12, he accompanied Melynda Jarratt, a New Brunswick expert on Canadian war brides, to a Citizenship Committee meeting on the new citizenship bill, Bill C-24, currently making its way through federal procedures.

Jarratt was assured that she was allowed to bring a guest with her to offer additional testimony. And Chapman seemed like the logical choice given his extensive background on the issues. But the moment that Jarratt and Chapman stepped into the meeting, the committee went in-camera, effectively muzzling the duo. They were given no explanation why. They weren’t allowed to testify. I find this treatment utterly appalling.

We reached out to our member of Parliament John Weston this week and asked him why this happened and what his opinion of the situation was.

His response, provided to us by his communications manager Josh Hemond, was, and I quote, “I am not a member of the standing committee on immigration committee. I was not there when the incident occurred, and Mr. Chapman did not contact me to let us know he was going to any meeting in Ottawa.”

As our MP, I would expect more of a reply than this. John, you should be outraged that this happened to a constituent in your riding. But it falls in line with just how out of touch you and the Conservative Party are with the Lost Canadians issue and this citizenship bill.

Weston rose to speak about the citizenship act and Lost Canadians on May 28 in Ottawa. In the transcript of his speech, of which we have a copy, do you know how much recognition Chapman gets? One line — in a three-page speech.

“I am proud to speak on behalf of constituents who have worked for this day, including people like Don Chapman, who helped John Reynolds [former area MP] on his way to advocate for Lost Canadians,” Weston said, while also talking about his late father, a prisoner of war in the Second World War, and his late uncle Smokey Smith, the last surviving Victoria Cross recipient.

And while I applaud Weston’s family’s tremendous service and sacrifice to our country, what do those ties have to do with citizenship and the Lost Canadians? Nothing.

If other citizens did as much to fight for others as Chapman has done for Lost Canadians, they would have been given the Order of Canada, but instead he is kicked out of committee meetings and is treated like a pariah.

Our MP should be fighting right alongside Don. He should have been in that committee meeting and demanded that Chapman and Jarratt be given the chance to testify.

How disappointing. 

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