On Dual Citizenship and Prime Ministers

First, I want to make it quite clear that I am not an Andrew Scheer supporter by any means. In fact, he stands for policies that I find absolutely against inherent rights including freedom of association. His refusal to consider dismantling “supply chain management” of milk marketing boards is just one area that I find totally repugnant and supports a system of infringing on freedoms. In addition, his support for milk marketing boards is idiotic when one wants to consider the costs of milk and dairy products and the artificially high price that it maintains, making it more difficult for those on lower incomes to purchase dairy products.

On the other hand, I’m amused by all the comments including “bizarre” as written by the National Post’s Andrew Coyne, suggesting that there is something inherently weird or wrong with a Canadian Prime Minister holding dual citizenship.

Andrew Coyne’s opinion piece in the National Post is actually bizarrely titled, “You can’t be leader of one country and pledge allegiance to another.” I can find no evidence and Coyne provides zero evidence that Andrew Scheer has ever “pledged allegiance” to the United States of America. In fact, this idea of “pledging allegiance” is rather a modern one in American history, having been officially adopted only in 1942.

I won’t bother discussing many people’s view points on the ridiculousness of requiring a “pledge of allegiance” in the first place, (there is quite a bit of criticism of the idea of such a pledge to a country, any country, and the unintended consequences of such a pledge). And to be fair to Coyne, in his op-ed, he doesn’t actually claim that Scheer ever made such a pledge – although the idea of it appears in the title.

I also agree with Coyne in that he points out to the hypocrisy of Scheer in the past when he criticized the appointment of Michaëlle Jean to the position of Governor-General Of Canada, when Ms Jean held dual-citizenship. But Coyne, in his opinion piece, goes even further and makes his own bizarre claims about citizenship:

“To be a citizen of a nation is not like being a subscriber to a magazine, something you can collect or discard at will. It implies a reciprocal relationship, not only a set of privileges (like the right to vote) but also of obligations — to obey the law, to pay your taxes, even in some cases to serve in war.”

This is pure nonsense, Mr. Coyne. I am very disappointed in Mr. Coyne for not doing his research on citizenship. Instead, he ends his op-ed with this:

“Membership in a community should have meaning. The parties know this: you cannot be a member of one political party if you are a member of another.”

This of course, is a logical fallacy, equating membership of a political party with citizenship of a nation. They are not the same. Indeed, Coyne is incorrect that citizenship obliges one to follow the laws of that country. In one part of his article, Coyne claims that citizenship is not like being a magazine subscriber yet here, he compares to political party membership. He also earlier claims that citizenship is not something you can “collect….at will.”

Well, not so fast, Mr. Coyne:

I know this from my own personal experience. By quirks of my place of birth as well as laws that exist, I am a citizen of three different nations (none were “collected at will”):

Canada
The United Kingdom
Ireland.

All of these citizenships were “granted” to me by virtue of the laws of each country. It would be insane to suggest that I must or should renounce one or more of them just to suit the silly ideas of Mr. Coyne of what citizenship is. None of the citizenships I hold had anything to do with my choices, or where I live, or chose to live.

I was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland which is recognized by both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland for citizenship purposes. Furthermore, I was born to a woman who was born in Canada, and according to Canadian law, I was automatically recognized as a Canadian citizen. Just because the laws of three different nations are such that they either want to keep me for their own, or give me some “privilege” based on the circumstances of my birth of which I had no control over, why should I have to take time and effort out of my life, to go and renounce what another government has done?

That’s insane thinking.

Furthermore, because I was born on the island of Ireland, and in the area that is part of the United Kingdom, and my four children were born in Canada, they to have three citizenship, by virtue of the laws of the governments of those countries.

If they wish to run for Prime Minister of Canada someday, it would be ludicrous to demand they renounce what others have given to them or else their “loyalties” could be questioned. My children did not seek citizenship from Ireland or the United Kingdom; it’s been given to them.

When Mr. Coyne claims, “It implies a reciprocal relationship, not only a set of privileges (like the right to vote) but also of obligations — to obey the law, to pay your taxes, even in some cases to serve in war” I am absolutely sure he has not really done his homework here, and is simply projecting on his own ideas.

As a citizen of the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as Canada (by the way, I’ve lived in Canada since I was 3 years old), I’ve never been asked to obey laws or pay taxes in the United Kingdom or in Ireland. Neither have my four children born in Canada and who are also citizens of the United Kingdom and of the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Coyne also writes:

“We agree, as citizens, to throw in our lot with each other, to make sacrifices for each other, to put each other first. It is not possible to maintain an equal obligation to another national community — to put both “first” is a contradiction in terms.”

Huh?

This is pure unintelligible nonsense, once again. My citizenship of any country, whether it’s dual, trinual or solely of one nation has almost no bearing on where and to whom I make sacrifices. Why the hell should I make sacrifices for some people simply because of some manmade geo-political borders in the first place?

Canada is a vast country by size. There are “Canadian Citizens” that live 5,000 km away from me, within the geo-political borders known as Canada, whom I feel no obligation to sacrifice for. On the other hand, I have very good friends with whom I have much in common who live less than two hours away, across a border. To demand of me that I sacrifice for some person or persons 5,000 km away first, before my friends whom I personally value but a border between us, is simply absurd.

Presently, I’m in Greece, having fallen in love with a woman who is a resident of Greece, and I am spending time here with her

. If Coyne is correct, that I should put “each other,” meaning Canadians first, the logical conclusion is that I should have given every other available and potential Canadian partner my first priority. Can you see the absurdity of Coyne’s argument here? Either he means first or he does not. You can’t say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it for potential romantic partners, I only meant ‘first’ for…. [insert your favorite personal thing here that suits your ideas but removes my freedom of association].”

Finally, I’d like to bring to your attention some other interesting (to me) facts about citizenship:

1. The Queen Of Canada, who is also the Monarch of The United Kingdom, is a citizen of Canada. Take up dual citizenship with her. In fact, many others in the Royal Family have claimed Canadian Citizenship.

2. There have been at least four previous Prime Ministers of Canada that have held dual-citizenship:

  • Sir John A. MacDonald
  • Alexander Mackenzie
  • Sir Mackenzie Bowell
  • John Turner

For me, I’ll take all the citizenships I can have. As an individual, I “identify” with many different people in different parts of the world (and in Canada), and demand the freedom of association that is my right, by virtue of my birth as a human being with the qualities of seeking out my own personal interests, making friends with whom I choose and like to be friendly with, and in the end, my personal values are more to individuals than some “group” imposed upon me by politicians and those in power.

Of course, Coyne and others might respond that this is different for those who would be Prime Minister, which may be true. But I am responding to Coyne’s argument and showing it to be specious, in the first place.

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