Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
via email: Bernier.M@parl.gc.ca
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
via email: Finley.D@parl.gc.ca
125 Sussex Drive
Dear Mr. Bernier/Ms. Finley,
It has come to my attention that Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has recently amended the language of the warning regarding dual nationality issues in Poland, available online at: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/dest/report-en.asp?country=241000
The previous wording:
“Dual nationality is not officially recognized. This policy may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. However, Polish nationals are permitted to be citizens of another country. Polish law requires dual nationals to enter and exit Poland on a Polish passport. A Polish citizen may be permitted to enter the country on a Polish passport that has already expired or that will expire during the visit. Those affected are not allowed to leave Poland until a new Polish passport has been obtained. The process of obtaining a new Polish passport in Poland can take several weeks.”
has now been replaced with:
“Dual nationality is not officially recognized, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. Dual citizens can choose to enter Poland with a Polish or a Canadian passport. Entering on a Polish passport gives all the prerogatives of Polish citizenship. However, proof of Canadian citizenship should be carried in the form of a valid Canadian passport, demonstrating the right to re-enter Canada. If dual citizens choose to enter Poland with a Canadian passport, they will have to comply with regulations applied to foreigners.”
The new language, which – to my great surprise as a Canadian citizen – explicitly endorses using a passport of a foreign country, appears to be inconsistent with the general warning concerning dual nationals at: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/main/pubs/dual_citizenship-en.asp
“The Canadian government strongly encourages you to use your Canadian passport when travelling abroad, especially when entering the country of your second citizenship.”
I believe that such an endorsement is ill-advised, especially regarding a backward and corrupt country like Poland. Not only does the recommendation to use a foreign passport erode the authority of a Canadian government office and the respect for Canadian citizenship, but by failing to address potential problems both in Poland and in Canada (loss of security clearance) it exposes the Canadian government to being held liable for potential damages. It should also be kept in mind that a significant number of cases of what Poland unilaterally claims as “dual citizens” are not voluntary, but result from Poland’s obstructionist policy in the matter of renunciation of its unwanted citizenship.
I am very curious as to why your Department has implemented this change, specifically whether it has received any assurances from the government of Poland that Canadians travelling on a Canadian passport will be able to leave Poland without any harassment and without being forced to obtain a Polish passport, as has been the case in the past under Poland’s policy of the so-called “passport trap”.
As you are certainly aware, Poland’s refusal to recognize the Canadian citizenship of refugees from Polish Communism and their children has been a long-standing issue in the Polish-Canadian community. We are painfully aware that in spite of the superficial changes resulting from its departure from Communism, Poland remains one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and it is very far from the rule of law as we understand it in Canada and in other Western countries. This is well illustrated by Poland’s insistence on treating us solely as Polish citizens based on the status quo from their Communist past and preventing us from renouncing that undesirable “citizenship” by an extremely cumbersome administrative procedure. In this respect Poland remains behind even bona fide Communist countries like China, which recognizes the Canadian citizenship of its expatriates when they travel there with a Canadian passport.
Could you please give me an explanation regarding why your Department is softening the language of the warnings regarding travel to Poland and what it is doing to make sure that Canadians can feel safe in that country when they visit their families without being afraid that they will be exposed to the obligations of Polish citizenship based on arbitrary and unilateral claims of that corrupt country?
Let me conclude by stating my general opinion that the Government of Canada should make every diplomatic effort to exert pressure on countries like Poland that show no respect to Canadian citizenship and make citizenship claims based on the status quo from their Communist past. Poland’s desire to have its citizens travel to Canada without visas could be a good opportunity to demand an unequivocal resolution of such citizenship issues.