Monday, August 13, 2007

Canadian citizenship - a matter of convenience?

The issue of dual citizenship and the whole “citizenship of convenience” issue is not going away any time soon.

In today’s Ottawa Citizen, columnist Randy Boswell reports on a study done by one of Canada’s leading cultural researchers (italics mine) which suggests there’s “no evidence that membership with two nations diminishes a person’s attachment to Canada”.

“Jack Jedwab, director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, says data pulled from a landmark 2001 StatsCan survey refutes the notion that dual citizens are more prone to divided loyalties or a weakened commitment to Canada – key claims among critics who prompted a review of federal policies last year after Canada’s $100-million rescue of 15,000 Lebanese-Canadians from Bierut during Israeli attacks on Hezbollah.”

The researchers further claim that the data shows that “about 80% of dual citizens feel a ‘strong’ or ‘very strong sense’ of belonging to Canada”, thus dispelling (at least in the researcher’s mind) the myth that people with dual citizenship aren’t as 'Canadian' as those holding only a Canadian passport.

However there’s one major flaw in this line of reasoning – one that actually raises the question of whether the Association for Canadian Studies qualifies as a “leading cultural researcher” – and that is the census data compiled by Statistics Canada only includes people who were resident in Canada at the time the census was taken. It does not include those with Canadian citizenship who choose to live abroad which, according to published figures, could be as many as 3 million or more of the estimated 4-5 million Canadians currently holding two passports.

Those 3 million or so include many who hold Canadian passports as simply a security blanket, and they are the ones Mr. Jedwab really needs to poll to understand dual citizens’ commitment to Canada.

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