Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From the department of whhhhhaaaaa?

OK, so it works better when Jon Stewart does it, but still.

Attacking Stephane Dion on his commitment to Canada? The guy that, if Canadians know of him, it's as the letter writing, separatist fighting, clarity act championing unity minister? That’s an interesting one Ezra, good luck.

Watch for future columns from Mr. Levant on how Kermit just isn’t green enough and how Bob and Doug McKenzie don’t drink enough beer.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Altavistagoogle said...

Hopefully, if the Liberals ever get back into power, Dion, Ignatieff et al will take away some of the advantages of being a dual citizen by making some mobility agreements. It is crazy that I can work in Mexico under NAFTA but not in France or the UK.

The number 1 choices for Australians as an other place to live (according to a recent survey), Canada! Yet, they can't. And Canadians can't live in Australia...

The EU has proven that mobility rights don't lead to mass migration.

burlivespipe said...

Hmmm, but did Dion's folks try to hide this matter during the campaign? I recall hearing a rumour about it but it was scoffed at. But Ignatieff took so much guff for having resided in the US for 6 years (tho the misconception of 25+ included his time in Britain, which isn't such an issue). Duel citizenship doesn't bother me so much, I think Dion is above reprisal -- how about sleezy Pat Martin suggesting Dion might have to recuse himself in an delicate issue with France? -- but that its just now surfacing seems to be bad form. If we learn anything from Harpor, its that the smart plan is to lay the bad cards on the table first and then go for broke...

Anonymous said...

unless you are 100% aboriginal you're from somewhere else.
the people saying they cannot understand dion either haven't been around much, or are just playing their stupid language card.
this is a great time in canadian politics!

Penny said...

A large number of Jewish Canadians seem to take a "My country right or wrong" view of whatever the Israeli government decides to do. I'm not sure how many of them have dual citizenship, if any, but should a Jewish MP recuse himself from any discussion of israeli policy?

While my own dual citizenship is CDN/USA, I couldn't be less influenced by USA policies. Quite the reverse, On the other hand, I am a Presbyterian by upbringing and tend to be much more sympathetic to the Scottish point of view, versus the English, thanks to my Scottish grandfather's harangues, and my Scottish blood which comes with a gene for never forgetting!!

Do Roman Catholics still get accused of potentially favouring papal edicts over the welfare of their countries? Should a Roman Catholic, or evangelical Christian renounce their faith, because it might influence their votes? I thought that one was settled in the 1960 US election!

This is too complex a subject to make up rules about. And somehow I feel sure that if another deGaulle figure showed up shouting "Vive le Quebec Libre" he would be run out of town before he'd taken another breath.

Name me one person who doesn't have a single prejudice in favour of - or against - certain issues close to their heart. But does it supersede their love for and loyalty to Canada? Not necessarily..

Anonymous said...

I questioned this at one point myself until I realized the Dion DIDN'T "obtain" the French citizenship - it is automatically "given" to him because his mother is French from France. A child of a person from France is automatically given citizenship - there is a big difference between choosing and being granted this citizenship.

Now, if you have any Jewish blood in your family you can become automatically a citizen of Israel, but that seems to be OK with Ezra Levant and I have to ask him is he loyal to Canada or Israel?

The stupidity and misinformation out there is pathetic.

Ignatieff DOES NOT have dual citizenship and if he did have U.S. citizenship it would be because he had to apply for it. Ignatieff NEVER obtained citizenship for any other country.

Dion didn't apply for the dual citizenship and it seems to me like more of an honorary issue.

Besides, he's not PM and if it were to happen that he becomes PM I'm sure any legal ramifications on the issue would be worked out.

It just shows how desparate the Tories and NDP are. They're attacking so bad that the Speaker of the House had to tell one of the Conservative MP's in the House yesterday that "personal attacks" were appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Whoops !!! I meant to say "personal attacks WEREN'T appropriate".

Anon: 8:47

A BCer in Toronto said...

This was no secret. Nobody tried to hide anything. I knew. Blogging Tories I've talked to knew. The media knew. The only thing is, nobody cared.

And most people still don't. Because it doesn't matter. Now that he's leader though the Cons need something to attack him with, so they're trying this. Frankly, their desperation is showing.

Tania said...

This is a joke and shows how idiotic those bringing it up now are.

I think what you'll see is a question of every single member of parliament and their citizenship. I'm surprised a website hasn't been started showing who holds what.

I'm 100% Canadian (First Nations) and I actually believe Stephane Dion has more passion for this country and has lost more (he's hated, we all know) because of his beliefs in Une Grande Canada!

If anything, this issue is going to have more people defend him than those that oppose.

Jason Hickman said...

And if Harper had US citizenship, even when he was Leader of the Opp, I'm sure there isn't a Liberal in the land who would have ever mentioned it ...

Look, one thing Dion does have going for him is his series of letters to Landry & Co. But he isn't handling this one well.

To deal with Penny's comment: yes, we all have our various biases, influences, etc. But being a citizen of country "B" while seeking the job of leader of country "A" isn't the same thing.

Neither Penny, nor Ezra, is either (a) the Prime Minister, or (b) the person who is in a position - at least in theory - to have that job next. Again, the comparison doesn't work.

I suspect that Dion, not being anyone's fool, will take this issue off the table one way or the other soon enough. And I doubt whether it will be Item #1 on people's minds when they come to vote. But to hint that it shouldn't be mentioned at all is a bit much.

Scotian said...

I suspect I am about to make myself unpopular with the following, but here goes...

I do not believe it is appropriate for either the head of State or the head of government to hold dual citizenship. It has the appearance of conflict of interest written all over it and while I certainly do not believe it would affect Dion's judgment in the slightest it is not a precedent I am comfortable with setting. Now, I don't see any reason for him to give up that dual citizenship prior to his winning government, not do I have any problems with MPs with dual citizenships. It is only in the case of head of government and State where I feel the potential appearance of conflict is simply too strong to be considered acceptable.

Consider for a moment the notion of a Zionist Israeli-Canadian with dual citizenship taking either office, would they use it to promote their Zionist agenda or would they detach that part of themselves and only look at how it affects Canada's interests first, and even granting the person did do this how confident could the wider public be? There are some positions where I feel one cannot have even the appearance of a conflict of interest and PM and GG are at the top of that list for me.

Please note everyone I am not endorsing in the slightest the political attacks being made on Dion with this issue, nor do I think he needs do anything about it now. I do not have any questions about where Dion's loyalties lie, simply that this is about appearance of conflict and a precedent I am not comfortable setting even when I trust the integrity of the man without reservation.

Have at me; I am sure I have just offended someone with this opinion...:)

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jason, re: Harper/US you're veering of into hypothetical land. But let me ask, would you feel criticism in that situation as you outlined would be justified/warranted?

You mentioned Diane Ablonczy over at Cherniak's blog. She's a PS now, but where she promoted to cabinet she'd have a great deal more potential for influencing policy then does an opposition leader. Should she renounce her U.S. citizenship if she joins cabinet? Should she now?

Scotian, you certainly make a more reasoned argument that Ezra, Jack and Pat would have done better to try, and I'm not without sympathy. I'm not sure I like the precedent the other way either though.

Your Israeli/Canadian example reminds me of how in the States, there was a great reluctance to elect a Catholic president, for fear he'd take his orders from The Vatican. I believe JFK turned-out alright, and people got over that fear.

It's my understanding that any person of Jewish faith/decent is entitled to Israeli citizenship, and I know you wouldn't want to exclude all Jews from seeking high office. You imply in your example though that this person would be a fervent supporter of Israel, and I think that's the more important consideration here. The person.

It's not the mere fact a person holds dual citizenship that should be exclusionary. Just because someone holds dual citizenship because of family heritage doesn't automatically make their loyalties suspect, I know we agree there. We should judge the person and their policies, positions and history, not their genealogy.

Let's ask our hypothetical candidate what their Isreal policy is and make our decision accordingly.

Jason Hickman said...

Jeff, shouldn't you be at the craps table? ;)

To answer your question: yes, if Harper had American citizenship before his election as Leader of the Opp, or at the latest, before his election as PM, I think it would be fair ball to bring it up.

I personally draw a line at being leader, and in particular, being PM, when it comes to the dual citizenship thing. I think most fair-minded Canadians would agree, and if SES ever does a poll on the issue, we'll find out.

I think if Dion were to say words to the effect of, "Look, if I'm elected PM, I'll make sure I'm Canadian-only by the time I'm sworn into office", I again think most fair-minded Canadians would be fine with that. Sure, his opponents on the left & right would still take the odd potshot until he actually does so - but the Libs are no strangers to that game.

The Isreali thing is a horse of a different colour. You can of course be Jewish without choosing to become Isreali. For that matter, you can be RC without being a citizen of Vatican City, an Anglican (or as it is still sometimes called, "Church of England") without being a UK citizen, a Muslim without being a citizen of any state that has Islam as its official religion, etc.

Assuming you're right about any Jew being entitled to Isreali citizenship (and I think you are, but I'm not 100% sure), the issue is whether that Jewish person, if he or she was PM, would accept and/or keep that citizenship, or not.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Got back from Vegas last night actually, down $60 at roulette. :(

I'm glad you'd be consistent on the issue, even if we disagree.

Anyway, who knows what will happen on the issue. I certainly see no reason for a renounciation at this point. If (or when...) he becomes PM? Maybe. As bigcitylib points out in another thread though, John Turner held British citizenship, and while I was a young pup at the time I don't recall it being a problem. Granted, he was probably a bit too busy during his short tenure as PM to help control the British Pound and keep the metric system down.

And I'd question the value of someone renouncing their citizenship for mere political symbolism. What does it change? I'm not an expert on citizenship law, but in theory someone could simply "announce" it again later. As well, particularly in a case where the person has never held a passport, how would this symbolic act change whatever loyalty they may or may not have to this other country?

Their background and heritage is their background and heritage, and they're fit for office or not. As I said earlier, it should be about the person.

Jason Hickman said...

Well, you lost less money than I did, at least. We were probably on the same flight, if you came back on Air Canada yesterday evening!

... And I'd question the value of someone renouncing their citizenship for mere political symbolism. What does it change? I'm not an expert on citizenship law, but in theory someone could simply "announce" it again later.

I think Conrad Black is proving that the process of "announcing" (re-announcing?) one's citizenship is a little more difficult than that! And for good reason: citizenship is perhaps the most meaningful thing that can be bestowed on a person, whether it's done at birth, or through immigration, or however.

In another post, you ask about other office-holders: MPs, Judges, etc, etc. Like I said above, for me the line is clearly drawn when you get elected to the highest office in the land, and arguably, when you get elected by your Party to be the Leader of the Opp, especially in a minority situation when Michelle Jean (speaking of people who had to renounce their French citizenship ...) could be calling on you to try and form a government even without an election, as unlikely as that may be.

Right now, I do think Dion will have to deal with this sooner rather than later, thanks in part to his "And where do you get off questioning me?" attitude (hey, Wells is right - he is like Harper!). But it wouldn't shock me if this whole damn story died off in a day or two, either.

Scotian said...


I deliberately wrote Zionist Israeli Canadian for a reason, that being to underscore I was referring to a subset within Israeli politics and not all Israelis let alone all Jews. I'm sorry I was not more explicit about that. I wanted an example where even the perception of conflict could do real harm and this was unfortunately a good example for that basis. Given how heated the politics is between Israel and the rest of the countries of the regions and how they are reflected within our own society and politics it is a situation perfect for illustrating how appearance must be avoided to prevent exactly such potential questioning. It was supposed to be a more focused example than it apparently came off as to you.

As for Turner's case, I wasn't happy about it then even though like with Dion his loyalties to this country were not in question. In his case when it did get raised it was promptly squashed because after all Britain was the "mother county" and therefore not like if it was from another nation. This is something I think is important, and while yes surrendering one's dual citizenship is a sacrifice it is not as some have called it abandoning one's heritage, that you carry with it as long as you choose to. It is also not something I feel is appropriate to require in the political realm for anything other than head of State and head of government and only upon assumption of those offices and not before.

For me the fact we are becoming that much more of a multicultural society is why this is increasingly important to have in place. It is important that both the symbolic head and actual head of this government have no conflict of interest in placing this country's national interest above all others and this is why I feel the perception of conflict needs to be considered in the case of those two Offices. I rather doubt nationalism and a certain amount of tribalism will ever be truly eradicated from human nature let alone our society so it is important to maintain certain firebreaks against it, which I see this as one element of. I hope this helps clarify my position.

Incidentally, the stuff I have heard come from both the NDP and CPC on this issue has made me ill. I take this as a matter of serious principle and those "people" see it as nothing but a partisan attack bit to try and weaken an unexpected Liberal leadership winner that came out stronger than expected. What they have been insinuating and implying about Dion is truly offensive and the fact that I find myself taking a position which is at all similar to theirs makes me that much more disgusted by their antics with this serious an issue.

Mark Dowling said...


there are not a few people that would argue a "parental role" for France if Britain is to be exempted on "mother country" grounds.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jason, I was on that flight. If you tell me that you were staying at the Wynn too things will really be getting spooky...

Conrad is a special case, but I think most Canadians agree he should get his citizenship back. As much as many aren't big fans, still, he was born here after all.

But on other positions, if it's unacceptable for an opp leader, I would have to think it's unacceptable for a cab min too. After all, the minister of international trade or foreign affairs would have more power to influence policy for their other country than would the OLO. Also, every MP could arguably influence policy with their vote before the house. Once you open up the precedent I don't think it's that easy to arbitrarily draw the line at party leaders.

Anyway, I don't think Dion is coming off all where do you get off on this. He just seems to be asking why? You don't need a reason not to do something, you need a read TO do something, and I don't think much of an argument has been made yet.

Scotian, not to worry, I think we were on the same page. I was sure that you were referring to a subset of Israeli politics. I was just saying that indeed it's not the citizenship we should be concerned with but the person. In this case, their residency in that subset. In your example I'd argue it's not their dual citizenship that would exempt them, but their politics as expressed by their membership in that subset. In the end their politics should be known to the electorate so they can judge their worthiness for office appropriately based on their politics, not their citizenship.

Jason Hickman said...

1. Nope - I was at the MGM. I did check out the Wynn while I was there, though: nice casino.

2. Obviously, we'll have differing opinions as to where "the line" I talked about earlier needs to be drawn, assuming it needs to be drawn at all. That's a point you make quite well in your "Dear [blank]" e-mails, and in your comment above.

In my opinion, the elected head of government should be Canadian only. Dion, by virtue of being Leader of the Opp in a minority parliament, is arguably much closer to the PM's job than the lion's share of the current cabinet for the foreseeable future, barring Harper's death or incapacity (God forbid). Even so, as I said earlier, I think most Canadians would accept a pledge by him that if he were elected as PM, he would renounce his French citizenship within a reasonable period of time thereafter.

That doesn't mean renouncing his mother's side of the family, or his personal heritage. Coyne makes the point better than I (as per usual) in his column today: Citizenship is a public matter, so to speak. It's not asking too much for the man or woman with Canada's top job to be, legally, a citizen of Canada only - IMHO, of course.