Conservatives voted Saturday at the party’s convention in Halifax to end a birthright citizenship policy that gives citizenship to babies born in Canada even if their parents aren’t Canadian citizens.
British Columbia MP Alice Wong spoke in favour of the motion at the convention, saying that Canada should “fight for our own babies” to a crowd of 3,000 in Halifax. Wong asserted that “passport babies” take away resources from Canada’s system.
Others spoke against the motion, such as Alberta MP Deepak Obhrai, who said the issue is a “fundamental question of equality.”
“Any person who is born in Canada, by law, is entitled to be a Canadian,” Obhrai told delegates at the convention.
“We cannot choose who is going to be a Canadian and who is not going to be a Canadian.”
The vote was a close one, going to an electronic tally, but passed eventually with a near margin.
The non-binding resolution amends the party’s policy book to reflect the new stance.
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Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer released a statement Sunday showing support to the vote.
“Ending birth tourism will be among the objectives of our policy,” the statement read. “Conservatives recognize there are many Canadians who have been born in Canada by parents who have come here to stay and have contributed greatly to our country. I will not end the core policy that facilitates this. Unlike Justin Trudeau, I will safeguard it against abuse.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh responded to the motion in a tweet, saying that “even Trump has resisted” such an idea.
Birth tourism has received criticism in the past, with a petition started in March by a Vancouver resident urging the government to end the policy, claiming that people were taking advantage of the policy to receive Canada’s benefits.
The petition, which ended in July, received over 10,000 signatures and the endorsement of Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido.
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Australia and New Zealand changed their birthright citizenship laws in 1986 and 2006 respectively, granting citizenship to babies only when at least one parent is a citizen or legal resident.