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article imageOp-Ed: Canada's doppelgänger citizens

By Michael Werbowski     Jan 28, 2012 in Politics
Ottawa - Canadians with dual passports and allegiances enrich this country, but shouldn't take certain rights and privileges for granted.
Permit me to wade into the debate about dual citizenship in Canada. It is no state secret that many of us carry two passports (some even three) when we travel out of the country. It helps plenty to have a second one, as it speeds up the wait especially when you land in Paris, Frankfurt or London and don't want to wait in line with the rest of the human dross from Sudan and Kirghistan and can just flash your EU passport and breeze past customs. Carrying a Canadian one, puts you into the category in Europe (or EU passport zone) with the North Koreans or Iranians these days. So it's really no wonder that some of us who still choose to live here, such as a prominent politicians the likes of Thomas Muclair, the erudite and urbane, and would- be leader of the NDP, also have a second passport. For the record, I have great respect for this man in politics. So I am befuddled why the issue of his dual or double nationality, has suddenly become fresh grist for the rumour mill or material for headline-hunting hacks searching for a story in the slow news season, in this country. Mr. Muclair's other nationality coming out, or his public admission of this fact, should not be such a media event.
The fact that he is also French is no big deal. So was former governor general Michael Jean. Most likely, every second person you see standing in line at Dorval or Pearson airport waiting to to be admitted into this land of boundless opportunity, magnificent vastness and innumerable flat taxes and fees, has dual loyalties or another national identity. I for one am a "pure bred" (meaning I can read, spell, count and talk reasonably well in both official tongues, while also converse proficiently in Spanish, and can greet people in Arabic,Tagalog and Farsi too, on our well salted streets or in the trash ridden subway stations) Canadian. However, as a member of the ever dwindling majority of this great land, who first populated and colonised it, I have European roots or in my case white parents, and thus can claim or may have claimed the nationality of their country of origin. In this case, the place is presently to my great joy, an EU member state.
This much sought after status gives me plenty of privileges among them the right to live, study and work in Europe, if I choose to do so. And on many occasion I have done so along with many other Canadians who do just the same. So what am I getting at here? The reality (however dismaying it may be for some of us) that Mr. Mulcair has a French passport does not make him any less Canadian than the prime minister, who took a cheap snipe at the aspirant NDP top dog recently, by stating publicly something to the effect of (I'm paraphrasing heavily here): " I am a true blooded Canadian. I'm conceived, born and indoctrinated in Canada... And as a product of this oil rich nation, hence rightfully deserve to be prime minister of this country... And anyone who is any less Canadian than me, is in my view, a traitorous, seditious element unworthy of being here." This might make our first great prime minister a foreign alien, or a Scotsman from Glasgow, by the name of John A. MacDonald turn in this grave. What a shameless, parochial and petty thing to say for a leader of a country such as ours, which is made of of mixed heritage peoples from all over the globe!
Of course Mr.Harper is no dolt. He is cashing in politically, or getting traction on the issue of who is and who is not truly a Canadian. Which is red hot these days as we can all see for ourselves when opening a paper or tuning into the news. But to be fair to the man whose right wing ideology is less than appealing to all of us; he has a point here. Many of us can claim to be real residents of " the great white north", but let's face it: if we hold passport from other states or reside elsewhere for years, while "being Canadian", then who's the real fool here? That's the crux of the problem. Having dual nationality is a privilege, which shouldn't be blatantly abused or misused by some less than scrupulous fellow citizens, who are under the very mistaken impression that two passports allows them to liberally (that is,cost free to themselves, but at the taxpayers' expense ) use the services of one country (in this case Canada) , while claiming all the rights ( including residency, pensions or tax advantages etc.) of the other, whenever it may be or whenever it suits their interests. In this sense, I fully agree with the prime minster, who's definitely a proud (just like me) Canadian and nothing more or less.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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