‘Birth Tourism,’ Citizenship, and the Politics of Deservingness in Canada: Analyzing Parliamentary and Newspaper Media Discourses from 1990 to 2021

  • Author / Creator
    Bednarski, Alicia
  • This thesis examines a phenomenon that has been controversially labeled as ‘birth tourism’ in the Canadian context. Allegedly, pregnant women from other countries are coming to Canada solely for the purpose of giving birth to their children. This is ostensibly so that the child gains Canadian citizenship before returning to the parent’s country of origin. Canada primarily allocates citizenship through jus soli, meaning that every child born on ‘Canadian soil’ automatically obtains citizenship, regardless of the citizenship or residency status of the parents. The two questions driving this research are: How has so-called ‘birth tourism’ been constructed in Canadian print news media and in federal legislative discussions? What do these discourses tell us about who is deemed ‘deserving’ and who is deemed ‘undeserving’ of Canadian citizenship? The answers to these questions are derived from two sources: a critical discourse analysis of parliamentary Hansard and committee meetings, and a discourse and content analysis of 80 French and English language Canadian newsprint articles on the topic from 1990 to 2021. To date, political and news media discourses have largely framed this alleged practice as a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’. The analysis reveals that, beyond relying on racial and gendered stereotypes of women of colour, particularly Chinese women, newsprint media and political discourses have largely employed a dichotomy popularized by the Conservative party between ‘good’ immigrants and ‘bad’ immigrants, with so-called ‘birth tourists’ falling in the latter category. The examination of these discourses reveals underlying assumptions about who is considered ‘undeserving’ of citizenship. Based on these assumptions, children born in Canada to non-resident mothers are not considered deserving of Canadian citizenship because their mothers subverted state-sanctioned immigration and citizenship pathways and failed to properly participate in the white settler nation-building that is typically conditional to acquiring citizenship.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.