Wednesday, August 10, 2005

QUESTIONS OF LOYALTY SINCE 1760

Debate surrounding the appointement of Canada's new Governor General has taken a bizarre and even uglier turn.

Bourque is currently posting an Ottawa Citizen article indicating that Mme. Jean holds dual citizenship with Canada and France.

Horror and recriminations have insued.

Below the Citizen link and below a massive "Vive La France" headline, Bourque has posted an on-line poll asking: 'should the appointment of Michaelle Jean be revoked?' Presumably because of her dual citizenship.

Pathetically, at the time of writing, poll results are running 59-38 in favour of revoking the appointment (3% unsure).

The fact that the new Governor General holds dual citizenship (with France no less) hardly matters in the least. Does she hold Canadian citizenship? Yes. Does Canada allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship? Yes. Are there many other Canadians, including MPs, who hold dual citizenship? Yes. Is the Queen, our actuall head of state, a citizen of Canada? No.

Some of the comments that are being left at Bourque's site are outright despicable. Some of the worst include:

We need a GG that is truly a Canadian and ONLY a Canadian

any Canadians available?

We need the white Anglos in this country to be properly represented.We require a white person in that position not an Asian or a Negro or an Oriental

i would like to see a true blue canadian in this position or else eliminate the position altogether.

Jean is nice, sure, but isn't there a Canadian among us suitable for the job?

All french people are jerks. We had to save their butts in WWI and WWII, they should keep their noses out of Canada.

How about a Canadian for a change???
The suggestion that those who hold dual citizenship are somehow lesser Canadians is revolting and ignorant. The third and sixth comments quoted above are simply deplorable.

The assumption that a dual citizen cannot be accepted as a Canadian runs entirely against most of the tollerant policies that are the history of Canadian governernments. We need not look only to the relatively recent multi-cultural immigration policies of the post-Trudeau era, but back to Canada's British colonial past.

In 1760 when the British conquered New France, they took over the governance of thousands of Catholic French subjects in the St. Lawrence valley. British administrators were consumed by fears about the loyalty of their new subjects yet British Governors James Murray and Guy Carleton recognized the need to trust and accomodate their Catholic French populations. Among other politicies, the French code of civil law was retained, as it is to this day, and Quebec was the first colony in the empire to allow Catholics to hold public office. Despite these and other accomodations Quebec sepratists remain bitter that the Ancien Regime abandoned them, but I digress.

Following the War of 1812-14, British administrators were again concerned about the loyalty of a significant portion of their resident population in the colony of Upper Canada. Throughout the first decades of the nineteenth century Upper Canadian administrators sought to deny rights of property, and hence most other rights of full citizenship, to immigrants from the United States, even those who had lived in Upper Canada for ten or even twenty years.

The number of people who stood to be disenfranchised composed roughly one-seventh of the Upper Canadian population. Finally, the Alien Bill, passsed in 1828, enfranchised those American immigrants after they had resided in the colony for a short number of years. These American immigrants, sometimes referred to as 'late loyalists,' came to form an integral part of the founding population Upper Canada.

Although, these examples are not exactly analagous to the case of Mme. Jean's dual citizenship, they indicate that Canada has a long history (in most, but not all cases) of accepting those whose loyalty, at first, may seem questionable.

In Canada one's loyalty and committment to the country is not principally proven or assumed by the swearing of an oath, or the origin of one's parents, or religious observance, or holding dual citizenship. Loyalty to Canada is proven through one's words, and more importantly one's deeds. To question the loyalty of a fellow Canadian based on any other factor is simply wrong.

Bourque deserves condemnation for asking this question, and those doubting Mme. Jean should reconsider what the true test of Canadian loyalty is.

Update [later in the day]: A few more enlightened comments from Bourque readers:

we do not need a goveror general! leave alone one from haiti

Canada (or the ROC as Quebec likes to refer to us) should vote to kick quebec out along with their new french leader. Enough with Quebec rejecting Canada, let's reject them!

Revoke her appointment and announce there will be an election, and like other mature democracies, only native-born citizens are eligible.

Update [a little later still]: Another gem:

Im tired of the cr*p about this being a multicultural country, yadda, yadda. I was born a Canadian and I resent the government and all the lefties changing the definition of what a Canadian is. I am a Canadian. Michelle Jean is not. There's no way in hell that a Haiti french citizen should be MY head of state. She dosn't represent me.

Now, certainly I have been picking out the worst of the comments, but it doesn't change the fact that they're awful, and the vote is still running about 60-40 to reject Jean.

Update [just a little later]: The most intelligent thing written in the comments all day:

And people wonder why Canada lags behind in productivity...get back to work...all of you.

Indeed.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:51 PM

Read or Post a Comment

I absolutely agree with everything you've said. Especially "Loyalty to Canada is proven through one's words, and more importantly one's deeds." That's why in my post about Mme Jean, I asked her to clarify - given that she herself listed the current situation in Haiti as one of her priorities - what exactly that position is. The Quebec Haitian community's goals are largely anathema to Canada's stated goals for the country. Now that Mme Jean is poised to be the new Commander & Chief of the Canadian Forces, I think she should immediately make her position on the matter clear. If she states that she unequivocally stands behind our mission in Haiti, then I'll be happy to welcome her as our new Vice Regal.

Posted by Blogger CharLeBois @ August 10, 2005 4:24 PM #
 

Yours is certainly a fair argument Charles.

If there is to be debate about Jean's appointment, that is the type of direction it should be taking. Debate should be based on a rational examination of Jean's past statements and actions rather than irrational hyper-nationalist sentiment.

Posted by Blogger Matthew @ August 10, 2005 4:32 PM #
 

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