Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The lie that Canada told

Canada disappoints me sometimes.

Does that sounds arrogant to you? Well, a country full of immigrants, founded upon their labour and sustained by their industry, presuming to divide the wheat from the chaff by calling for Stephane Dion to give up his French citizenship sounds arrogant to me.

A number of Canada's earliest prime ministers were not born in Canada. Several were born in the UK. At the time, there was no distinction in law between a Canadian and a Briton. But that's beside the point. We have, in our history, entrusted the stewardship of this country to people not even born here. Our Parliament, our legislatures, our city councils abound with people who have come here from elsewhere, many of whom must still possess the citizenship of the lands from which they've come, all without issue... as recently at the 1980s, John Turner was leader of the Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition, and, briefly, Prime Minister. John Turner was born in Richmond, England. But even this late in history, I don't recall anyone taking issue with this or questioning where Turner's heart might lie, not even in Quebec. I find it astounding that the same few weeks that have seen Canada embrace the Quebecois as a nation within a nation have also seen it, in virtually the same breath, throw ice water on that sentiment by shrieking with francophobia on learning Stephane Dion's mother bestowed her citizenship on her Canadian-born son.

Perhaps the greatest irony of all has to be the teapot from which this tempest flows. As I understand it, we have a conservative scribe from Alberta, Ezra Levant, to thank for saving Canada from its eventual conquest by French fifth columnists. Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here and suppose that Ezra Levant is Jewish. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's a guess. Can there be a nation on Earth that's been better-served by the broad acceptance of dual citizenship that's emerged in the past thirty or forty years than Israel? A land of four or five million people, cared for and aided by tens of millions abroad who feel they have a stake in the place. Is that what Ezra Levant fears? That Dion might feel for France what millions of Jews have felt for Israel? And if that would be wrong for him, isn't it therefore also wrong for them? Shouldn't they have to choose too? Because let's be honest — this is bigger than just Stephane Dion; we are, after all, hearing cries for Canada to conclude its policy of dual citizenship. But what of other lands? To the south of us, Michael Chertoff is Secretary of Homeland Defense, no less. Under Israeli law, Chertoff is an Israeli citizen. Does Ezra Levant lie awake a night, lashing in his own sweat in fear for the liberties of our American cousins, tormented by the thought that Chertoff's dual citizenship might undermine his ability to think and act in the best interests of the people of the United States? Call me jaded, but somehow, I doubt it.

And yet, it's perfectly fine for Ezra Levant to cast aspersions on Stephane Dion. And why? Because deep down, English Canada still really doesn't like, trust, or respect the French, here or abroad. Why mince words? It's just been made abundantly clear. Turner okay, Dion bad. The Quebec separatists whose jaws dropped a few weeks ago when Harper beat them at their own game must be rubbing their hands with glee that we've so quickly shown our true colours — Redcoats forever — as we treat Quebec in particular and a worldful of potential Canadian immigrant-hopefuls in general to the spectacle of millions (if the polls are to be believed) of Canadians demanding that a man who has dedicated the last ten years of his life to their service renounce his incidental but rightful citizenship in another country in order to demonstrate his loyalty to them. Yes, no less than The Toronto Star has made it plain that Stephane Dion, a French Canadian (in both senses), must abandon his birthright and heritage to assure us all that, as Prime Minister of Canada one day, he will not be unduly influenced by the President of France... because only then may we rest assured that he will comport himself as a true and loyal servant of the Queen of England.

Ladies and gentlemen... I give you the word absurd.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. This issue is disappointing for me also.
Dual citizenship is legal and acceptable in Canada, so what's the problem.
People who hold dual citizenship are also full Canadian citizens. Their other nationality is based on family and emotional ties. These would not be lessened by being renounced and loyalty to Canada would not be increased.
We should instead be proud that Canada shows enough tolerance and maturity to allow dual citizenship.
the labelling of dual citizens as somehow not loyal or lesser Canadians is reminiscent of some of the darker days in Canadian history that I hope we all wish are gone forever. It is reminiscent of the injustice that Canadians of Japanese, Italian or Ukrainian origin have suffered in the past.
It is an example of the lowest form of the politics of division and as far as I'm concerned is not worthy of my country.
The idea of saying that québecois have a dual nationality one week and then proposing that that people with dual citizenship should renounce one of their nationalities the next week is also bordering on arbitrariness and opportunism of the lowest order.