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Greetings, fellow cosmopolitans

The Liberal party is tapping a new niche: Canadian expatriates


 

Greetings, fellow cosmopolitansKirsten Weld has never been a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, nor has she made any donations. She hasn’t even voted for them in an election. So, when she recently received a letter from the Liberals at her home in New Haven, Conn., the 27-year-old was surprised. “Are you a second-class Canadian?” the envelope blared. The letter inside, signed by Michael Ignatieff, had this message in boldface at the top: “The Canadian Prime Minister is questioning your loyalty. I think he’s wrong.”

Among Conservatives, Ignatieff’s years spent abroad are a favourite point of attack—but the Liberal leader is hoping they will play better with the expatriate crowd. In a new campaign aimed at Canadians living outside the country, he’s playing up his globe-trotting in hopes of attracting donations. “My own path has taken me across the airwaves of the BBC to the pages of the New York Times, from remote villages in Afghanistan into lecture halls in Paris, Vancouver and Boston,” the letter says. Even the stationery is meant to evoke international travel: it’s marked with passport stamps from far-flung locales like Hong Kong, Paris and Sydney. A call to arms to expats to “stand against these attacks,” the letter ends by asking for a donation, to “affect the balance of power in Ottawa immediately.”

Some expats did feel their heartstrings tugged. “It struck a chord with me,” says Zoe Szajnfarber, a doctoral research assistant at MIT. Like Weld, Szajnfarber feels a strong connection to her home country, and getting mail from home is nice. But she was left to wonder: why was she selected for the campaign, and how exactly did the Liberals get her mailing address? Weld found herself asking these questions, too. “There’s no reason [the Liberals] should assume I would give them any money,” says Weld, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University’s department of history, who supports the NDP. The party must be reaching out to her, she says, “because I’m an expat.”

Sent to about 8,000 Canadians around the globe through June and July, the letter is indeed part of a larger strategy aimed at “engaging with the expatriate community,” says Rocco Rossi, the Liberal party’s national director. It’s also a response, he says, to the Tories’ “personal negative attack” against Ignatieff and, by extension, the “two million Canadians who live and work abroad.” Most of those who received the mail-out were people who’d contacted the Liberal party over the years, he says; addresses were also obtained from voter lists of those registered to vote abroad, which are a matter of public record, as well as various other sources.

When it comes to fundraising, Ignatieff’s Liberals are doing something right. The party raised $3.9 million in the second quarter—over four times the amount raised in the same period last year, under Stéphane Dion—beating the Tories for the first time in recent memory, which is “incredibly encouraging news,” Rossi says.

Yet there’s irony in the Liberals’ message. Canadians who live abroad may not exactly be “second class,” as the letter suggests, but many of them can’t actually vote in an election here. Since at least 1993, citizens who reside outside the country for more than five consecutive years have been ineligible to vote. (There are some exceptions, including those who work in the federal public administration, for example, or live with a member of the Canadian Forces.) The Liberals have “no current plans” to address this issue, Rossi says.

Canadians abroad might not always be able to vote in an election back home—but, luckily for the Liberals, they can still make political donations.


 

Greetings, fellow cosmopolitans

  1. My own path has taken me across the airwaves of the BBC to the pages of the New York Times, from remote villages in Afghanistan into lecture halls in Paris, Vancouver and Boston,” -> Iggy forgot the halls of montezuma and the shores of tripoli!

  2. Ignatieff was born in Canada and left when he was 6 WEEKS old. He then was returned here to a private elite boarding school at 12 where for a number of years he then went to Canadian schools and for part of his university education. He worked one real job at the University of BC for 2 years and then left Canada for good until returning to rule over us in 2005. Okay. So far so good. But Ignatgieff saying he "grew up" in Canada is a real stretch don't you think?

    • Yes, we should disown all diplomats and people serving overseas for Canada. The nerve of them thinking they are still part of Canada and their children thinking they are in anyway growing up in Canada even if they are attending Canadian schools.

      It is actually because of people like you and Harper that this letter makes sense! I would certainly have wanted to receive this letter during the many years I studied and worked in the US and I could not care less if you view me as a non-Canadian.

      • Catherine – nobody is disowning Ignatieff or the fact that he IS technically a Canadian – born to a Canadian diplomat so did not live the first 12 years of his life in Canada. That is a fact of life. However, Ignatieff SAYS he "grew up" in Canada intimating he would know what that is like; that his values were formed here; that his Canadian identity is from living here. That is the stretch.

        • So you are saying that Ignatieff was homeless and didn't grow up anywhere? because while born here and while he was educated here from the age of 11 and while his family was based in Canada, they spent a lot of time out of Canada in various countries because of his father's diplomatic service. Or do you think he grew up in Yugoslavia because he lived there for a couple years?

          What about me? I always say I grew up in Toronto because I lived there from age 10 to early twenties, the longest time of my pre-adult life in one place and I feel that is where I grew up. Is that okay with you that I think that or do you find that unCanadian?

      • We don't have to disown Iggy. He disowned us when he said that Britain was his "home", when he claimed repeatedly to be an American, when he wrote us off as a country on a BBC talkshow and when he made comments like the claim our flag is a beer label or his statement that he wouldn't stay in Canada if he couldn't be PM.
        Many people who go to other countries are proud to be Canadian, it is pretty clear by Iggy's comments that he was embarassed to be Canadian. Oh wait he almost said that too when he said Canada's foriegn policy embarassed him and that the only people serious about human rights was the Bush government in Washington.
        If you routinely make Iggy like comments about Canada and Canadians I guess we would have little choice but to view you as non-Canadian. If you are proud to be Canadian I guess you can see that Iggy wasn't.

        • No, actually I can't see that Ignatieff wasn't because I have actually chosen to read his works that I am interested in rather than take my information from one-liners extracted by Harper for partisan gain. You should try it if you like to think for yourself.

          This thread really does not paint a very positive picture of Harper supporters. It seems to bring out the baser instincts in them.

          • So you are saying that I was mistaken when I watched Iggy say those things. When I read the words that Iggy wrote. I don't think so. Iggy is Canadian if he thinks he can be PM other than that he will return to being a citizen of the world. I also remember him claiming to be the brains behind the Green Shift, and saying he would raise taxes. Perhaps I imagined that as well.

        • Ah, somewhat like Harper saying to his American fans that ""Canada is content to become a second-tier socialist country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services, to mask its second-rate status". Yes, what a proud Canadian our Prime Minister is.

          Stuff it.

  3. '' Since at least 1993, citizens who reside outside the country for more than five consecutive years have been ineligible to vote.''

    So then MI has not been eligible to vote in a Canadian election since 1993, until he returned to Canada to vote for himself…oh, yes I am sure all expats can relate to that!!

  4. As an expat of about three years, who received the fundraising letter, I can tell you that I have never contacted the Federal Liberal party for any reason. In fact, before leaving Canada to pursue a job opportunity, I volunteered and worked on Conservative campaigns for twenty years.

    • Big mystery. How did the Libs get the names for their fundraising letters? Just asking.

      • Read the article – the addresses of individuals who register to vote overseas are a matter of public record.

    • Big mystery. How did the Libs get the names for their fundraising letters. Just asking.

  5. Picking up some crumbs. These guys don't vote, even if they wanted to, because the Canadian Foreign Service is so inefficient that they can't. I wonder if Iggy ever voted in the 26 years out of the country.

    • He has been ineligible since 1993,
      until he returned to do his patriotic duty in 2005,
      and vote for himself.

      • HA! Exactly!

  6. Ignatieff is 62 years old now. His first 12 were elsewhere. He was "here" for private school from age 12-18; then a few years for University , let's say 4 then he went to Harvard. He returned to teach at Uof BC at age 26 and left Canada for good at age 28. He has now been "back" since midway through 2005 – let's say 4 years.
    How many of the "ex-pats" he is writing to so clearly had nothing to do with Canada – even in their formative years?

    • "His first 12 were elsewhere."

      They were elsewhere because his father was serving his country in the foreign service. What were your parents doing for your first 12 years, Lorraine? Serving their country?

      • Working blue collar jobs and paying taxes, not living off the public teat in foreign countries. But then again, the Liberals always believed they were preordained to be in the PM's office as their birth right.

        • Why is it different to be serving in the foreign service than to be serving in the CF? They're both careers dedicated to protecting idiots like you, Dakota. And you could never make it in either.

  7. I just love the Liberals. Always whoring for a buck. My hat is off to Rocco Rossi. He is a great fundraiser.
    Too bad, American Iggy hasn't come up with one reason to vote Lazy Liberal of Adscam fame.

    • Rossi should hitch his wagon to Republicans for Ignatieff,
      surely he could triple the out of country donations!!

  8. Lorraine — Given your figures, that means Ignatieff was out of the country for 46 of his 62 years — two-thirds of his life!

    • But he is entitled to his entitlements! The Liberals have told him so!

  9. What is so wrong about going to another country to work or study or just live? For crying out loud, it's 2009 not 1809, people TRAVEL!!!!! Get over it Conservatives, if people want to leave Canada they can do it. Just because your base is a bunch of rednecks hicks who never even left their own province, doesn't mean the rest of us are!!

      • Why would someone go to the US and pretend to NOT be canadian?

    • It is one thing to travel the world and come back to live in your country of birth. It is quite another to live your adult life outside the country call yourself an American and say Britain is your country and the corky is to come back solely to become PM. Do you not get the difference or is your partisanship blinding you?

    • It is one thing to travel the world and come back to live in your country of birth. It is quite another to live your adult life outside the country call yourself an American and say Britain is your country and the corker is to come back solely to become PM. Do you not get the difference or is your partisanship blinding you?

  10. My husband was born in Germany to German parents. He came to Canada as a child. He returned now and then to visit Germany, still has relatives there and speaks the language. After a successful career here in Canada and a few stints in the United States do you think now would be the time for him to return to Germany and run for President?

    • Depends, did he write books? Have his own talk show? Can he make his eyebrows dance in different directions?

      • As my wife says he is darn right creepy.

  11. This is hilarious. This post really brings out the provincials.

  12. This is hilarious. This post really brings out the provincials.

  13. Come to think of it – I was born in a city in Quebec. Have not lived there since I was a kid but my birth certificate says I am a Quebeqois.
    I visited quite often and I had a pretty successful career in other provinces at an executive/professional level. I'm about Ignatieff's age. Maybe it is time for me to return to the city of my birth and run for mayor. That's while my husband is over in Germany seeking ro run the country of HIS birth as a retirement project.
    Hmmm. Maybe Ignatieff has a good idea there.

  14. Great picture at the NNW website. It will really strike home with owner Canadians. An elitist? The picture is worth a thousand words.
    Of course the Libs are being disingenous. Harper said no such thing. However, when somebody lives their whole adult life outside the country and comes back to simply become PM that is a real issue that needs to be explored. None of the people receiving the donation letter want to return to their country simply to become PM. Arrogance and hypocrisy? You bet.
    The fact is the Libs are desperate to blunt the "Just Visiting" ad. Obviously their focus group are telling them that ads have an impact despite all the sniping by the MSM.

  15. Great picture at the NNW website. It will really strike home with ordinary Canadians. An elitist? The picture is worth a thousand words.
    Of course the Libs are being disingenuous. Harper said no such thing about ex pats. However, when somebody lives their whole adult life outside the country and comes back to simply become PM that is a real issue that needs to be explored. None of the people receiving the donation letter want to return to their country simply to become PM. Arrogance and hypocrisy? You bet.
    The fact is the Libs are desperate to blunt the "Just Visiting" ad. Obviously their focus groups are telling them that the ads have had an impact despite all the sniping by the MSM.

  16. you liberals are a riot. i guarantee i've seen more of the world than any of you – and all of Canada, to boot.

    6 generations here. born here. grew up here. went to university here. own a business here. employ people here. speak several languages here.

    i'm conservative.

    where you live your life is your own business, but don't pretend that Iggy has a clue what being "Canadian" is all about. and that's why it is preposterous that he presume to ask us to let him be PM.

    and yet, here there be posters proclaiming his greatness. i swear, liberalism is an illness.

  17. As a Canadian living abroad, let me say this. We all have limits to our patriotism – surely there is, for almost any person, an amount of money and/or prestige (or whatever) that could make you move to another country. Conservatives oversimplify by pointing to the fact that Ignatieff moved abroad, while Liberals wrongly ignore the issue.

    How much better were Ignatieff's opportunities in the US/UK than in Canada? A lot. While I can't say whether he loves Canada or not, Ignatieff had fairly decent reasons to live abroad. Harper, by contrast, would not have had similar opportunities.

    The relevant math is approximately this:
    (Love of Canada) – (love of other country) = (being a Professor at U of T) – (being a Professor at Harvard)

    In other words, if you think working at U of T would be a great job, you should also think that Ignatieff doesn't care for Canada. If you think Harvard is a vastly superior job, then you must also believe that Ignatieff probably loves Canada a fair bit (or really really wants to be PM).

    • And if you think being a world-famous public intellectual is better than either such job, vote for Iggy.

  18. I also received this fundraising letter, Where I live, it is common for people to go live Canada for 5 years to get their citizenship, and then came back to their country of origin. Why? They get Canadian work experience and credentials, a passport that is nearly free from visa restrictions in other countries, and when they need it, they fly to Canada and can get free healthcare (after a 3 month registration period) for the rest of their lives. War? Canada will evacuate you – free of charge. Jailed in another country? Canada's media and embassy will come to your rescue!
    I'm surrounded by "Canadians of Convenience", and being proud of where I was born and raised, it makes me very sad that people take advantage of what many people are literally dying for: A chance to live safely in a generous and amazing country like Canada and have better lives for their children. A chance to flee persecution, death, murder, starvation. A chance to become prosperous and live the Canadian dream.

  19. As an exapt, I actually still have to pay taxes because I have what Revenue Canada considers "strong ties" to Canada. Of course I do! Canadians of Convenience don't though – they are deemed to not have "sufficient ties to Canada".
    I think if you can't legally pay taxes in Canada, and you can't legally vote in Canada, you shouldn't legally be able to donate to a political party in Canada so you can continue to reap the rewards of using a Canadian Passport of Convenience.
    It's disgusting to all of our ancestors who came to Canada to stay and make a better life that others will simply come to "just visit".

  20. Ignatieff is entitled to his entitlements! Now why can't Canadians just understand that and vote for him, the Liberals have already decided that he should be the next PM.

    Just because he has spent the majority of his life living outside of the country doesn't meant he isn't entitled to his Liberal entitlements.

  21. I fail to see a reasonable and logical connection between where Iggy has lived and his ability as a politician.

  22. Speaking of second class Canadians, my son apparently is second class because his Canadians parents were in Tokyo when he was born. His children have no right to Canadian citizenship if he is out of the country at the time they are born. If Ignatieff wants my vote, he can start by maing my son a first class Canadian again.

  23. I think I'd rather be second class and live in Australia than any class and living in Canada. Harper's comments only stiffened my resolve to stay away.

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