How did Canadian federal citizenship come to dominate over alternative citizenships in Canada? How have governments attempted to influence internal mobility and migration within Canada? How does Canada regulate relations with expatriates and other emigrants, including people unflatteringly termed “Canadians of convenience”? How do developments in citizenship and nationality laws and policies reflect debates about naturalization and denaturalization, dual citizenship, and the extension or denial of rights to political participation such as voting? Professor Willem Maas has been awarded a five-year Insight Grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to pursue his research project, “A Political History of Canadian Citizenship and Nationality Law and Policy.”

Citizenship policies in Canada have recently been undergoing considerable change. However, Canadians tend not to think too much about their citizenship. Viewing the development of citizenship and nationality as integral to state-building, Maas’s project focuses on the political contestation over citizenship, emphasizing the contentious nature of competing claims of stories of peoplehood in explaining the laws and practices of Canadian citizenship and nationality.

Ultimately, Maas asks how we should understand the political development of Canadian citizenship and nationality policies in order to better understand who we are as Canadians.

“Canadian citizenship is currently at a watershed moment in terms of its future development, at a time when sensitive issues such as denaturalization of dual citizens with ties to terrorism, increasingly stringent requirements for naturalization, and evolving relationships between individuals and different levels of political authority have come to the forefront,” notes Maas.

Using a qualitative case study approach, Maas will place current debates around citizenship within their historical context, demonstrating how the past informs the present. He will then address analytical and normative aspects raised by these debates. By consulting multiple sources of evidence like records of legislative debates and public hearings, court rulings, and journalistic accounts, backed up by archival and historical documents, Maas will analyze the laws and policies to write a monograph and organize a workshop, which will serve as a useful resource to not only other academics but also to decision-makers, legal actors, and policy professionals.

For more information, contact Professor Maas at