Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another question

Dear Jack and Pat,

It was with interest that I read recently your contention that that leaders of political parties should not hold not hold dual citizenship.

I have to say I don’t agree with your position there, but luckily the right to spirited debate and differing opinions is consistent with both Canadian and French citizenship, so I think we’re on safe ground there.

I would appreciate it though if you could enlighten and clarify your position here a bit for me, so I could better understand how it is in the spirit of the social democratic ideals that the New Democratic Party was founded on, and strives every day to uphold.

According to Statistics Canada, appx. 557,000 Canadians, or 1.8 per cent of the population, hold dual citizenship. We’ve established that you feel they shouldn’t be party leaders. I’m wondering, are there any other positions you feel they should be excluded from?

At least 41 Members of Parliament were born in other countries, and therefore may hold or be entitled to hold dual citizenship. This includes a number of your own caucus members. For example, Peter Stoffer was born in the Netherlands, Libby Davies was born in England and of course your partner, Olivia Chow, was born in Hong Kong. All three make strong contributions to the House of Commons, and I think their cultural backgrounds are assets that contribute to a greater and more vibrant debate that truly reflects the diversity of a multicultural Canada.

If you feel that dual citizens shouldn’t be party leaders though, is that where you draw the line or would you include MPs? How about provincial premiers and legislators? Mayors? Supreme Court justices? School district trustees?

I’m just looking to better understand the limits the NDP feels multicultural Canadians should face in Canada before they’re forced to abandon their heritage. I appreciate your willingness to help me better understand your position.

Yours in solidarity,


P.S. You may be interested in reading what some members of your party feel about your policy here.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Actually, those last two "members of his party" said nothing about the dual citizenship issue in their posts either in defense of Dion or otherwise. Just so's you know.

Northern BC Dipper said...

Well, actually, as a dual citizen myself, I'm not that pleased with this weird "disloyalty" mime that's going around.

Just because both Dion and myself were lucky (unlucky?) to be born into a family where one parent came from another country does not mean that either one of us would abandon Canada.

Anonymous said...

I think BigCityLib may be right about Western bigotry.

"The establishment caem down with a constitutional package whic h they put to a national status forQuebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constituion, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things".

- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, the vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

At the same meeting he said:

"If you've read any of the official propagrandas, you've come over the border and entered a bilingual country. In this particular city, Montreal, you may well get that impression. But this city is extremely atypical of this country....So it's basically and English speaking country, just as English speaking as, I would guess, the norther part of the United States."

Anonymous said...

Whoops, I forgot one:

"It is simply difficult - extremely difficult - for someone to become bilingual in a country that is not. And make no mistake, Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it's less bilingual today than it has ever been...So there you have it. As a religion, bilingualism is the god that failed. It has led to no fiarness, produced no unity and cost taxpayers untold millions."

- Stephen Harper on bilingualism, Calgary Sun
- May 6, 2001.

Jeff said...

Thanks IP, I shouldn't have read so quickly. I've made the change.

rob said...

John Turner was born in England. Can we assume that Layton feel that it was inappropriate for him to be Prime Minister?

KC said...

I really resent the term "Western bigotry". Its ironic actually. It is in and of itself bigotry against westerners. Please dont lump the vast majority of us out here who are nothing like Ezra Levant in with his ilk.

Kenn Chaplin said...

Canada is chock-full of dual citizens, and not just at World Cup time. This is the same bottom-feeding antagonizing (Ezra Levant the chief agent provocateur) that came up over the appointment of the Governor-General. It smacks of a maple syrup-induced stupor on a slippery slope toward xenophobia.

Mark Dowling said...

check out the NDP website.
No disclaimer about "unless you want to be prime minister" and the guy who put it out, Siksay, stands over it according to his statements today.

Anonymous said...

There's a historical sensitivy here - how can you say the Quebecers that it's OK for a British born PM but not OK to have a French France citizenship?

With all due respect, those born of any other country weren't part of the British/France origin that formed this country.

There must be rules about this in Canada's constitution or something.

Jeff said...

It's a slightly different era, but it's worth noting Sir Wilfrid Laurier was born in France, and he turned out pretty good by all accounts. As I said, different era, but still, I'd like to think our tolerance would evolve forward, not backward.

Mark, great link. This is why many find it difficult to take the NDP seriously.

Olaf said...


I think we might be missing the point here, deliberately even. No one said that people who were born in other countries shouldn't be party leaders. It's not a question of heritage or ethnicity, but citizenship, which is another kettle of fish.

Look, I don't think it's a big deal, I could care less. But I think you proving that others were born outside Canada doesn't argue for or against party leaders having explicit loyalty to one country to the exclusion of all others.

Anonymous said...

I think that I would prefer to see all members of the privy council denounce any claims to citizenship besides Canada.

Just my thought.

Dr. Tux said...

I think that all of Canada's elites should relinquish their dual citizenship.

This includes academics, presidents and CEOs, scientists, journalists, politicians, bureaucrats, and leaders in civil society.

Obviously, if they refuse to relinquish their dual citizenships, they aren't loyal to their country.

Jeff said...

No one said that people who were born in other countries shouldn't be party leaders. It's not a question of heritage or ethnicity, but citizenship, which is another kettle of fish.

I agree no one said that, but people born in other countries are likely to hold citizenship in that country, so we are saying they can't be leaders unless they renounce that other citizenship, which they may feel part of their heritage.

I bring up others being born elsewhere, and therefore possibly holding dual citizenship, because if we're going to sat drawing lines I don't see how we can stop at party leader, and not cabinet members or even MPs.

Anonymous said...

It's a slightly different era, but it's worth noting Sir Wilfrid Laurier was born in France, and he turned out pretty good by all accounts.

Laurier was born in Saint-Lin-Laurentides, Quebec.