I expect plenty of debate today on whether Thomas Mulcair being a citizen of France is a big deal. It’s true our first two prime ministers were born overseas, as was John Turner who held the job for a very short while in the 1980s. Perhaps millions of Canadians have or are entitled to dual citizenship.
What makes Mulcair different though is that, in addition to seek to become leader of the opposition and eventually prime minister, is that he sought out and took French citizenship. It is not automatic that a husband becomes a citoyen when he marries a French woman.
We don’t have the same rules as the Americans when it comes to who can head our government but after controversy over Michaelle Jean and Stephane Dion, and I am assuming Thomas Mulcair, is it time we developed some.
Or is this no big deal.
When this came up with Stephane Dion several years ago it was an issue for many New Democrats including Jack Layton. Their quotes are below.
“I would prefer that a leader of a party hold only Canadian citizenship,
because one represents many Canadians, and for me that means that it’s
better to remain the citizen of one country,” Layton told The Canadian
“But for a person that isn’t in a position of representing others, holding
dual citizenship is fine with us.”
Mr. Martin said it would be “common sense for Dion to renounce his French
“Mr. Dion should not have divided loyalties,” the Manitoba MP said.
“If he were ever to be the premier leader of Canada, this is going to be a
problem for him and he should not be so dismissive of people raising the
question,” Mr. Martin said.
“In any other circumstance, short of being our Governor General or our prime minister, dual citizenship is fine. There are a myriad of reasons for it … to participate as a citizen of the world. I think as prime minister, he should be willing to give up his French citizenship and demonstrate his loyalty to Canada.”
“I think [Dion] should just follow the lead of the Governor General. I don’t think it’s good that a possible prime minister hold dual citizenship. Say you’re the prime minister of Canada and you hold French citizenship … France comes knocking at your door for a deal … you’re perceived to be in a conflict of interest. A prime minister should always be clear of any perception of conflict of interest.”