Second Class Canadian Citizens II


It never makes me angrier when people prejudge the merits of other people, not based on their actions or their ideas, but by where they came from. Today, most people frown on such actions taken against immigrants to this country, but it seems like some of those individuals who want to build up themselves by questioning the worth of those around them have moved on to an apparently safer target: Canadians who hold dual (or multiple) citizenship.

It was highly discouraging, hearing the hand-wringing and, on occasion, racist comments over the number of dual Lebanese-Canadian citizens who needed help during the Israel-Lebanon conflict. It was just as discouraging hearing all the hand-wringing over Governor General Michaelle Jean’s dual French/Canadian citizenship and her fitness to serve as our head of state. And now, after serving in parliament and in cabinet for more than ten years, Stephane Dion doesn’t spend more than three days before some partisan hacks decide to make the question of his Canadian-French dual citizenship an issue.

This disgusts me. It would disgust me if Stephen Harper were a dual American-Canadian citizen and people tried to attack him because of it. Any argument that this is how the other side would behave is irrelevant, as turnabout is not fair play. Stephane Dion’s remnant French citizenship is irrelevant to his worth as a potential prime minister, and the questions about it are indicative of the intellectual bankruptcy of some partisan Conservative and New Democratic supporters. While Harper and Dion are mixing things up in some of the best question periods in recent memory, those who can’t match the depth of Harper and Dion’s debates have resorted to this non-issue to try and bring their enemy down. It’s sickening.

Despite living most of his life in Canada, despite giving ten years of his life to public service in Canada, Dion suddenly isn’t Canadian enough, simply because he has something six hundred thousand other Canadians themselves have: dual citizenship. I’m sorry, but anybody who says that this man, who stood up to Quebec separatists, who introduced the Clarity Act to parliament, who has dedicated his life to this country, has questionable loyalties to it, is an idiot. I can’t be more clear than that.

That includes NDP MP Pat Martin.

I admit I have a personal stake in this. My wife is a dual citizen, having immigrated here from the United States seven years ago. This past month, she participated in her first campaign when she cast her ballot in the municipal election. Vivian is going to be a dual American-Canadian citizen as well, because that’s what the law allows. Erin has been told, by a handful of people — mostly without malice — “you can’t be Canadian and American… they’re opposites.”.

Well, to hell with that. If the law allows us, in Canada, the United States, France and many other countries, to retain our old citizenships (indeed, some countries, like Syria, make it nearly impossible to renounce one’s birth citizenship — ask poor Maher Arar), then why should we be denied what the law allows? When Vivian becomes an adult, she will get to choose her country of residence. She will get to devote her life to that country, and it is my hope that she will be judged by her actions and her ideas as she works to serve her country, rather than any preconceived notions over where she came from, and what nationalities get printed on her passport.

Erin has chosen Canada. Stephane Dion has chosen Canada. Anybody who says that they are any less Canadian because of their ability to make that choice, will get a big argument from me.

(Update: 12:32 p.m.): More evidence that this is just a low smear job comes from this article in The Globe and Mail, published September 6, 2006:

Mr. Dion’s mother, Denyse, was a real-estate agent. Born in Paris, she gave her children their dual citizenship; L√©on Dion would joke he was the only one in the household to be solely Canadian.

(Mr. Dion does not have a French passport and has not voted in a French election, his staff says.)

So, how do you turn in a French passport if you never had one?

I’m thinking about organizing a protest to picket Ezra Levant’s front lawn with signs saying “I’m just as Canadian as you are.” Anybody with me?

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