Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ugh, More on Citizenship

Okay. Dion got his French citizenship through his mother's birth, but has never voted in a French election and doesn't carry a French passport. This should mean, to most rational people, that whether he holds it or not, his French citizenship has never meant very much to him. To which Olaf writes:
If Dion's commitment to Canada is 100% as he claims (which I do not doubt for a second), what level of commitment does that leave for his French citizenship? Citizenship conveys not only rights but responsibilities, and if ones loyalty is in its entirety devoted to Country A, and always will be, one has no business holding citizenship of Country B.
Now, I just did the apparently unthinkable, and called up Dion's publicity people. I confirmed with one Jennifer Mowbray how, exactly, he got his citizenship. It was conferred honorarily upon Dion by the fact of his birth, at the time of his birth, and was nothing he ever sought out or took an oath for.

Meaning, if you're following along, that Dion cannot possibly be breaking any vow of French citizenship (because he never took one) nor can he reasonably have his integrity questioned on these grounds - his citizenship was not something he chose, but something that was forced on him.

As for the question of why he would bother keeping it, well, how about not wanting to give Ezra Levant the time of day, much less the satisfaction of scoring a cheap partisan point? How about being proud of his heritage? How about any number of personal reasons that shouldn't be made in to a political football?

And I don't know the intricacies of French immigration law, but if his honorary citizenship was conferred at birth, there's probably no way he could practically "renounce" it any more than he already has - you know, by never making use of his rights as a French citizen.

There are plenty of states where citizenship can be conferred automatically by your birth - most prominently, Israel, which takes it very seriously indeed. Indeed, for the first decade of the Mossad's existence, it's primary mission was rescuing Jews in the Arab world and other hostile places.

That doesn't mean that Jewish-Canadians have "dual loyalties" any more than Dion does - indeed, there's a long history of anti-semitism in that charge. (I wonder if Ezra Levant thought about that before he squatted out this little tempest in a teapot.) What it means is that some countries define citizenship differently than we in Canada do, they make laws to codify that, and some people in Canada have a legal status and identity they never asked for and may never take advantage of.

Please, people. There is absolutely nothing worthwhile in this discussion - no principle, no philosophy, no deep thought whatsoever. Stop wasting time and bytes on this.

9 comments:

Technetium said...

When this first came up, the first thing I thought about was conflicting oaths.

If what you say is true and he never took an Oath to France for his citizenship, then it is a non-issue for me.

Bourque, however, appears to have discovered it may be an issue for France!

Meanwhile, the Government of France may have a bone to pick with one of its citizens. "Steph" Dion, now Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition here in Canada, would seem to no longer be entitled to French citizenship. That, according to French Law (Art.23-8), which states that a citizen loses French nationality when "filling an employment in a foreign army or public service or in an international organization of which France is not a member, or more generally providing his assistance to it, did not relinquish his employment or stop his assistance notwithstanding the order of the Government."

Anonymous said...

John,

Meaning, if you're following along, that Dion cannot possibly be breaking any vow of French citizenship (because he never took one) nor can he reasonably have his integrity questioned on these grounds - his citizenship was not something he chose, but something that was forced on him.

I didn't take an oath or vow, and my Canadian citizenship was conferred upon birth. Does that mean I don't have responsibilities as a citizen of Canada?

And I don't know what honourary citizenship is (is it like a degree?), but I have a feeling that he has all the rights of non-honourary citizenship, to vote, to travel under the flag, etc. So I don't know what matter this distinction makes.

Please, people. There is absolutely nothing worthwhile in this discussion - no principle, no philosophy, no deep thought whatsoever. Stop wasting time and bytes on this.

You just spent a good 4 or 5 paragraphs on it, which is I don't know how many bytes, but surely not much less than myself or most others. Now two full posts on the matter? That would be too much.

I was just noting that as far as political optics go, it wasn't a deft move.

By the way, congrats on actually doing some first hand people talking... I always just assume that if I want to talk to Dion or Harper's or Layton's people, I can't. But maybe I'll be more ambitious in the future.

Although one time, I emailed Layton's people, and never heard back, although in fairness I was somewhat confrontational.

john said...

"I didn't take an oath or vow, and my Canadian citizenship was conferred upon birth. Does that mean I don't have responsibilities as a citizen of Canada?"

Well, you've lived here, benefited from the services of the Canadian government, and presumably paid taxes and voted in elections. So yes, you have responsibilities in Canada by virtue of having excercised your citizenship. Dion has never done the same with his entirely involuntary citizenship.

"And I don't know what honourary citizenship is (is it like a degree?), but I have a feeling that he has all the rights of non-honourary citizenship, to vote, to travel under the flag, etc. So I don't know what matter this distinction makes."

The distinction is simply - Dion has none of the paperwork that, in the real world, are necessary to excercise the rights that come with citizenship. Without a French passport, he can't walk in to a French embassy and demand the protection of the French government.

Think of it this way - Dion simply isn't a citizen of France the way he's a citizen of Canada: he's never formalized it in any way whatsoever. And the reality is, these rights need to be formalized before they can be used. (I doubt, for example, that he could simply hare off to Paris and start working there tomorrow, even if he wanted to.)

Anonymous said...

Those are important points you bring up John. If it is indeed true that Dion's French citizenship is only honorary, that he has no rights or other entitlement's, then this is a moot point.

If we were to actively pursue it, then that's another thing. But as pointed out the French government would likely reject it due to Dion's Canadian public service. Now it's just an academic exercise.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but don't you understand the beauty of this "attack" (which is what it is by the way).

Success has been acheived at planting that "yeah, but he's French" argument in questioning his moves, decisions, mannerisms. The message wasn't meant for bloggers or people willing to research the facts, its to the proverbial "man on the street."

It's ridiculous how many direct comments to that have been posted in random commentary across the spectrum of issues this week.

The solution is to stand behind him and point out the racist quality of the arument - PERIOD!

Because it is a racist commentary to hint about someone's possibly "divided" loyalties because THEIR MOM WAS BORN IN FRANCE!!!!

I wish liberal bloggers had spent more time on pointing that out that than agonizing about the effects on the party.

You sound like the cowering Democrats in the US before the last election. Thank God they finally found their voices again (somewhat).

Anonymous said...

Anon: If that was directed at me. I would like to point something out.

My father is Dutch by birth and arrived in Canada as an immigrant. I was entitled to apply for Dutch citizenship (before the age of 25).

Because of the heritage passed on through my mother's side of the family, there is a strong possibility I qualify as a Status Indian under the Indian Act of Canada (anyone else find odd that we still use the word Indian?)

Both of these I have not pursued. Why? Because I am not prepared to participate in Dutch or Native American society as an active citizen. I see that these entitlements come with a "price".

I bring this up because I am applying standards to others that I have applied to myself. My definition of citizenship I hold true to for myself.

Unless you believe I participate in some sort of self hate, I am not "attacking" or being "racist" with my opinion.

Technetium said...

"I didn't take an oath or vow, and my Canadian citizenship was conferred upon birth. Does that mean I don't have responsibilities as a citizen of Canada?"

Olaf...we all know Canadians don't have responsibilities, only rights! ;)

Technetium said...

"I bring this up because I am applying standards to others that I have applied to myself."

FYI, I think that's cool.

Anonymous said...

The French made it clear at the time of Michaelle Jean's issue with citizenship that they would NOT exercise the Civil Code provision mentioned in Bourque's post. Can't see why Dion would be any different.

Maybe Chretien might ask him to renounce since he made Black give up his Canadian citizenship to become Lord Black of Crook... ahem... Crossharbour.