Steve Patten and I have recently co-edited Patriation and Its Consequences: Constitution-making in Canada and it has just been published by University of British Columbia Press. The 14 chapters engage the dynamics, key political considerations and the consequences of Canada’s effort to patriate the Constitution in 1981.

My article “Does sperm have a flag? On Biological Relationship and National Membership” is now available in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society. Since one of the ways to become a citizen is to be born to a citizen parent, who the law names a parent can be central to one’s citizenship. Marriage and birth-out-of-wedlock has done the work of naming parents for a long time, but with the demise of illegitimacy, the advent of reproductive technologies and legal status for same-sex relationships, figuring out who is a parent has become more complicated. In the domestic context, genetic relationship is not necessarily a requirement of parentage, and children receive citizenship by virtue of birth in the territory. When a child is born abroad, however, genetic relationship to a Canadian parent – and possibly only a Canadian father – has recently been established as the minimum ante for Canadian citizenship by the Federal Court of Appeal in  Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Kandola (2014) FCA 85.

I am currently working on a book project that examines birthright citizenship through the experiences of the lost Canadians. The lost Canadians became a media phenomenon in 2007 when Canadians were newly required to produce a passport to cross the Canada-U.S. border. Some people who thought they were Canadian citizens, applied for passports and were informed that their citizenship was in doubt, or that they did not, in fact, have Canadian citizenship at all. There were many reasons why these citizenship issues may have emerged, but they all stemmed from the workings of the birth criteria that govern membership in Canada.

For those interested in the birthright citizenship debate, check out the European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship Forum Debate at


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