In the past few months, I’ve been personally present for several nasty anti-immigrant comments, which I guess I never blogged about. I won’t right now, except to say that there’s a real nativist streak that runs across the whole political spectrum in Canada. Despite the talk about multiculturalism and being a nation of immigrants, there is a dark underside that basically says “if you were not born here you can never really belong here.” Francophone Quebecois are often accused of this by Anglophones, but the reality is that it’s just as present in the Anglophone media. Obviously not everybody thinks that way, but I guess I believed the advertising about multiculturalism and tolerance enough that I am surprised to find how prevalent it is.
The current talk around dual citizenship for people born in Lebanon is particularly disturbing. For those of you who don’t know, there are estimates of 40,000-50,000 Canadian citizens living in Lebanon. And since the government has been busy helping people get out, there’s been much talk in the news about dual citizenship and whether those citizens in Lebanon were “real” citizens. What’s shocking to me is the degree to which commentators assume that dual citizenship is second class citizenship, which essentially means citizenship for all immigrants is in their minds second-class citizenship (except for those who renounce citizenship in the countries from which they’ve departed). Just today, Jeffrey Simpson was prattling on in the Globe and Mail about how maybe citizenship should be harder to get and maybe there ought to be conditions attached to it, especially for people who live abroad. Sure, and you’re telling me that we should also limit the citizenship rights of people who were born here? Right. I thought not.
The whole point of citizenship is that the same rights apply to everybody. Otherwise it’s not citizenship.
awesome points, jonathan (and what a highly enjoyable read)! someone at one of the gyms where i work (a canadian-born-canadian-citizen with two canadian post-graduate degrees and a very respectable job) ask me if the canadian citizens in lebanon pay taxes! (can you please tell me what the relationship between taxes and citizenship is? i’m confused. i haven’t paid taxes in my country, brazil, in over 10 years. should i return my passport?)
Yes, well done, the dark side to Canada is that like of the Netherlands, where the supposed value of “tolerance” has broken through into some blatant anti-immigration pushes on the right AND left. It’s funny though, everytime I go to NYC I’m taken in by how much more “multicultural” and better integrated race relations _appear to be_ but it really is methinks only the inverse of how americans first few Canada at first blush — as better than the States. And so it goes. _tV
Thanks for the comments. I am still the process of figuring this out. There is a difference between issues around race here and in the U.S. It’s not that Americans are less racist, it’s that there’s more of a habit of talking about it. Here it’s more like “we don’t need to talk about it, because there are no problems.” EXAMPLE: McGill’s faculty is very white and there is no organized effort, a la affirmative action, to diversify our ranks.
And certain things, like “Canadian jobs for Canadians” that I hear up here from people who think they’re left wing no self-respecting American leftist would ever say (though labor leaders do worry about the exportation of jobs).
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