TORONTO - An Ontario father fighting to get his youngest son recognized as a Canadian citizen is now prepared to take the federal government to court over the matter.Paul Compton feels he's already done everything recommended by the government to deal with the impact of regulatory changes which resulted in one of his children being Canadian while the other is not.After months of waiting for a resolution, the 45-year-old is escalating his efforts, issuing an ultimatum through his lawyer to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.In a letter sent to the minister on Friday, Compton's lawyer said he's giving Alexander ten days to grant citizenship for Compton's son, five-year-old Mateo, and if he doesn't hear back, he will take the case to federal court."It's (Alexander's) right to say yes or no, but to say nothing and do nothing is not an exercise of discretion," lawyer Cecil Rotenberg explained in an interview. "If he doesn't want to do it I want to get down to business and get him to court."Alexander would potentially be taken to court over his failure to exercise his discretion in a case which involves the best interests of a child, Rotenberg said, adding that a claim of discrimination under the Charter of Rights may also be pursued."This young boy cannot be held to be a non-citizen when his brother is a citizen," said Rotenberg. "It's just not proper."Compton and his family are caught up in a series of changes made to the Citizenship Act in 2009, which limits the ability to pass on Canadian citizenship to only the first generation of a family born abroad.Because Compton was born in Scotland while his Canadian parents were there for university, he was unable to pass on citizenship to Mateo, who was born in Peru, while Compton was working in the country.Compton has since returned to Canada and applied for permanent residency for his son and his Peruvian wife — an avenue the government recommended to those affected by the new regulations — but after more than a year, the application is still being processed.A spokesman for Alexander said, however, that the Compton family's case was currently within posted processing times."This particular application will be considered on its merits by professional, non-partisan public servants in due course," said Kevin Menard, who went on to defend the regulatory changes that have landed the Compton family in their current situation."Our government believes Canadian citizenship is a privilege not a right. We have taken steps to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship, including limiting citizenship by descent to one generation. This measure was implemented in 2009 with the support of all parties." Compton has asked that Mateo immediately be granted Canadian citizenship on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and is also asking that his wife's application for permanent residency be expedited.He emphasized, however, that he wanted his case to pave the way for others in a similar situation to also get help."I'm hoping that my son and all other Canadian citizens who are in the same position as my family get immediate Canadian citizenship for their children," he said.The situation has taken a toll on Compton's family."It's been exceptionally hard," he said. "I obviously love my wife and my son with all my heart. It is devastating for me to see what they're going through."
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.