Jan 262012
 

Canadian PassportThere has been a recent controversy surrounding the dual Canadian/French citizenship held by Federal NDP leadership hopeful, Thomas Mulcair. It is thought that to be the leader of a federal party which one day (hopefully not in my life) could propel said leader to the Prime Minister’s Office he should renounce his French citizenship. I would agree.

Historically Mr. Mulcair would not be the first federal leader to possess dual citizenship. Prime Minister John Turner had Canadian and British citizenship. Of course before 1947 there was no such thing having Canadian citizenship per se. We were all British subjects. From 1947 to the early 1980s all Canadian had dual Canadian/British citizenship. After that we achieved the singular Canadian citizenship dropping the British while also accepting the fact that Canadians can possess multiple citizenships.

Most countries, including the United States, accept the fact that a citizen can simultaneously be the citizen of another country. It’s interesting historically to know that 10 US Presidents were also British subjects. Eight of course were born into the British North American Colonies but two were British after independence; Chester Arthur, and Barack Obama. Obama was British and then Kenyan by virtue of his father who was born into Kenya which was a British colony at the time. Obama lost his Kenyan citizenship when he turned 23 as Kenya law prohibits dual citizenship for adults.

Let’s leave citizenship by descent and by birth aside and talk about oaths of allegiance or oaths of citizenship which I believe to be much more to my point. Being born here most of us did not have to take an oath declaring our allegiance to the Queen of Canada but to become a naturalized citizen or to enlist in our military, or to become a member of Parliament one must take an oath swearing loyalty to the Queen.

The Canadian Oath of Citizenship reads as follows:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen o f Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

I contend that anyone taking this oath immediately renounce any allegiance to any other nation, or leader of any other nation. It would be a blatant division of loyalty to swear allegiance to the Queen of Canada and also have, for example, an allegiance to the Republic of the Untied States of America. It would be a contradiction. It would be a lie. To not renounce citizenship in another country would make a mockery of the oath one just swore to become a Canadian citizen, or to enlist in our military, or be a Member of Parliament. It would be like having two spouses. A form of citizenship polygamy. (It has been suggested that such a renunciation would be unnecessary for citizens from other Commonwealth nations as they too are subjects of the same Sovereign. Such a distinction I will leave for the time being.)

Upon taking this oath I would suggest that anyone possessing prior citizenship in other nations publicly renounce the same and hand over any passports to that country. Not to do so would suggest that the oath was simply a formality.

Further I would suggest that any Canadian citizen, whether Canadian by birth or by blood who actively seeks the citizenship of another nation, and in doing so swears and oath to that nation, must lose his Canadian citizenship. Allegiances cannot be divided. You either swear allegiance to one country or another. You can’t have it both ways.

In 2005 our former Governor General, Michelle Jean was sworn into that office. Two days before that very swearing in which made her Commander in Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces she renounced her French citizenship. This was the right thing to do and I think she set an example for anyone wishing to actively participate in elected federal politics and our military.

Interestingly, France prohibits its citizens from participating in any foreign military or government but in Michelle Jean’s case the French Embassy in Ottawa assured her that they would make an exception in her case. And why not? To have a French citizen as Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces would have been quite the bloodless coup.

Besides being deceitful, dual citizenship, if by choice, has been a major financial burden on Canada as many take advantage of the socialist programs Canada has to offer and become citizens of convenience. Often this scheme involves fraud as in the case of hundreds of Lebanese Canadians who received permanent resident status without having left their home country. This particular case1 centered around a man, one Ahmad, El-Akhal, who obtained2 citizenship for hundreds from the Middle East and at the same time receiving hundreds of thousand of dollars from the federal Government in the form of benefits and tax refunds.

Such scams could be eliminated by requiring Canadians applying for citizenship under our naturalization rules to report to Canadian officials on a regular basis and to provide evidence of their residency. Relinquishing their foreign passports upon taking the oath of Citizenship would also dramatically reduce these con artists who only want Canadian citizenship as a means of having a safe-haven should things turn sour in their real homelands. Much as it did in July of 2006 when Canada evacuated thousands of Canadian citizens from Lebanon costing us $85 Million. While, to be sure some of these citizens were only in Lebanon on holiday, many were permanent residents there and were using their Canadian citizenship to get away from the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

An oath once meant something. It meant a person’s honour was on the line should the oath be broken. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that today such a thing as swearing an oath has become a simple formality to be performed and then forgotten. Or worse, to be performed and laughed at as the one taking the oath knows full well that he has no intention of keeping his pledge of fealty to Queen and country.

To break an oath of allegiance to a country should be considered the same as breaking of a contract and if a naturalized citizen, a member of our military, a Member of Parliament or any other who has taken such an oath be found to be working for another country’s government or against Canada by breaking its laws, which is a part of the oath, then the proper course of action for the government would be to rescind Canadian citizenship or, in the case of non-naturalized citizens, remove them from the military or from public office.

  1. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/on/news-nouvelles/2011/11-01-06-gta-rgt-ip-eng.htm

  2. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/on/news-nouvelles/2011/11-12-05-gta-rgt-ip-eng.htm

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #234, January 26, 2012)

Jan 192012
 

CF-18All free nations need to define a policy whereby the conditions or triggers for military intervention are clearly defined.

The Freedom Party of Canada (while it has yet to field any candidates) has put together just such a policy. It can be found online at freedomparty.ca.

In part it reads:

“the legitimate functions of the military are to respond to and prevent unwelcome invasion of Canadian territory, attacks on Canadian territory, or other acts of war against Canada that occur away from Canadian territory (for example, as against Canadians held hostage by a foreign power or terrorist group). Activities or planned activities anywhere on the globe that have as their purpose or effect an attack on the life, liberty or property of Canadians are legitimate triggers for military response where prudent diplomacy has failed. “

The key point to this policy is that it not only identifies a direct attack on our soil as a trigger for war but it also correctly identifies the need to act preemptively to prevent an attack. It also expands the sphere of action outside of our territory. This would permit, quite rightly, the Canadian military to attack other countries or groups in other countries who have violated the rights of Canadians in those countries as long as diplomatic efforts have been tried and failed.

Let’s look at some recent conflicts Canada has been involved in to see if we have followed such a policy.

It took part in the civil war of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the United Nations Protection Force and NATO while none of our interests where threatened.

It helped to enforce the no-fly orders of the United Nations in the civil war in Libya when no threat to Canada or Canadians was involved.

It took part in the invasion of Afghanistan in a joint response with other countries to overthrow the Taliban government which was complicit in training terrorists.  I believe our involvement there was warranted to protect our nation against possible terrorist attacks.  Unfortunately, the reasons the government of the day cited for entering the war was not only national protection but to ensure Canadian leadership in world affairs and to help Afghanistan rebuild.  These are not valid reasons for war.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was none of our business.  We had no treaty with Kuwait to defend it and yet we willing joined the United Nations in removing Iraq from their territory.  Our national interests were not threatened.

At the time of the US’s decision to go into Iraq for the second time Jean Chrétien choose not to get involved.   While we knew that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction and was willing to use them (if you don’t believe this you have obviously forgotten about the Halabja massacre) and while such weapons in the hands of a dictator like Saddam Hussein were a threat to his neighbours they were no threat to us and I now believe that staying out of Iraq was the better plan. (At the time I, like many of us, was caught up in the drama and thought we should have assisted.)

What of Iran? Iran is a threat to our ally, the United States. It has an official “Death to America” day. It has called for the annihilation of America and the West. It is a theocracy which has involved itself in the training of terrorist groups like al-qaeda and Hezbollah. It is developing a nuclear weapons program and has recently threatened shipping in the Straits of Hormuz, a vital sea transportation route of vital interest to many nations including our own. If allowed to develop a nuclear weapon it is quite conceivable that it could put it aboard a ship and sail into New York Harbor and detonate it.

Some have said that Iran, like any other nation has the right to defend itself. This is not true. Iran, as a despotic theocracy which does not recognize individual rights or peaceful coexistence with its neighbours has no right to exist under its current leadership.

It is not a particular threat to Canada or Canadians as its eyes seem more fixed on Israel and the US, but if the US is attacked we should retaliate as an ally if asked. Should the US, or Israel preemptively destroy Iran’s ability to get a nuclear weapon? Yes. I believe they should. They have been threatened with what amounts to a declaration of War by the Iranian government. Iran is developing the means to carry out such a threat. They should be stopped. Should Canada join in such a preemptive action? No. We neither have the means nor is the threat to this country as real or immediate as it is to the US and Israel.

Libertarians in the US like Congressman Ron Paul, would have a dovish defense policy very different from the one of the Freedom Party which I described. Paul’s basic policy is to fight only after you have been attacked. This of course would be too late for those killed. A preemptive policy is the only rational one. Ron Paul would also remove the US military out of every other country in the world. I would grant him this: The US has spread itself thin in the world and can certainly reign in much of its forces abroad but to not have bases in areas which are of vital interest to its economy and survival is folly. Keep the bases in the middle east for a possible war with Iran; keep the military in Afghanistan because that country is far too backward to be left without being supervised by civilized adults; keep the military in South Korea and Taiwan for the possible conflicts that may happen there.

We can never forget how hostile a place the world is and how much we are all interconnected. An isolationist foreign policy is not a realistic one if a country is to maintain its interests and sovereignty. However, that being said, a jingoistic policy is also not desirable. Only with a clear idea of what it is you are protecting, who your enemy is, and what your vital national interests are can you develop a defense policy worthy of a free nation.

(Revised from a broadcast of Just Right on January 19, 2012)