The citizenship question


Apparently Thomas Mulcair has French citizenship.

Though he was born in Ottawa, Mulcair was able to apply for and receive French citizenship because his spouse, Catherine, was born in France. Under French law, spouses of French citizens can apply, as Mulcair did, to become citizens themselves after five years of marriage and after demonstrating their ability to speak French.

“Mr. Mulcair is very proud to share the nationality of his wife, who shares his,” Mulcair spokesperson Chantale Turgeon told TVA. “He sees no conflict with his Canadian citizenship or duties. Dual citizenship is a reality for many Canadians who are proud of their origins and a source of enrichment for our diverse society.”

Stephane Dion’s dual citizenship was made an issue in 2006. Mr. Dion dismissed concerns at the time and he is defending Mr. Mulcair now.


The citizenship question

  1. My father born in glasgow, I born in Canada, and I have dual citizenship. I applied for UK passport solely to get me out of Canada, and away from politically correct ninnies, after university and it saves an enormous amount of time and hassle when traveling in UK/EU. 

    I don’t have a problem with regular people having dual citizenship but I do have issue with pols, particularly PM/Cabinet members, having divided loyalties. Dual citizenship might not be issue within Que but it will irritate many outside prov – PM represents what is supposed to be best of Canada and many people will question Mulcair’s patriotism, ties to Canada. 

    However, at least Mulcair remained in Canada and didn’t live abroad for most of his adult life.

    • Unfortunately, going to the UK does not get you “away from politically correct ninnies”, it appears to be worse in the UK.

      • It did 20 years ago but UK now worse than Canada after 10 years of New Labour.

  2. Are we back to fretting about this nonsense again?

    My family has been 7 generations in Canada and Mulcairs dual citizenship is of no concern to me.

    My granny married an Englishman, and now I’ve discovered that if I wanted to….and because of the convenience it would create….I could become a UK citizen, and travel more freely in the EU.

    We’ll soon become global citizens anyway, and have done with all this paperwork nonsense.

  3. I have no problem  with anyone who holds dual citizenship.  However, I think France would always consider a French citizen to be a French citizen – it would consider and treat the prime minister of  Canada or the GG of Canada as a French citizen.   For that reason, before being  sworn into office one would have to relinquish the citizenship.

    • Why, because a piece of paper magically changes you?

      Natural born Canadians like and dislike, go along with and refuse to participate in, many things in Canada. They won’t be any different with a dual citizenship. People are individuals.

      • Because thus is French law.  All citizens are equal.  A prime minister or GG holding dual French citizenship would not be considered Canadian in France.  He would be French, and he could not approach the government of France claiming to be something else than a French citizen as long as he retains French citizenship.

        • LOL rubbish.

          When John Turner went to the UK, he was not considered an ordinary Englishman….he was considered the PM of Canada.  Same with Sir John eh.

          • France and the UK have different laws.  In France citoyenneté and nationalité (two different things in French law) are treated differently than in the UK..  As I said I have no problem with a politician holding dual citizenship in Canada – there are a number of them who do, including ministers.  The problem with Mulcair and Dion would arise in France and in their dealings with France.  To the eyes of French law, they are French, not Canadians. France has its own laws!

          • France treats all world leaders the same….as leaders of their countries.

            France had an empire you know….other countries leaders are those countries leaders….even if the person was born in French held territories, or in France itself.

          • Okay. So to them, the PM of Canada is a French citizen. I fail to see how the two are in any way mutually exclusive considering that it’s a job title.

          • Here from the site of the French government – my translation follows:

            8. La double-nationalité
            La France ne fait aucune distinction entre les binationaux et les autres Français sur le plan des droits et devoirs liés à la citoyenneté.

            France makes no distinction between  hose who hold dual nationalities and other French citizens on the basis of their rights and obligations linked to citizenship.  

            Note that the French citizen has rights and obligations under the law of citizenship. 

            I understand what you’re saying.  What you have to understand is how France understands all this, and it’s a different understanding from the UK or Canadian laws.  

          • This is an interesting argument.  Has it ever actually been put into practice in a meaningful way? 

          • Leaders are leaders…no matter their citizenship.

            Diplomatic immunity.

  4. This is an asinine debate if you really think about it. Our first and some argue greatest PM was born in Scotland and while there was no such thing as dual citizenship in his day it is obvious he retained close emotional links to his homeland all of his life. Does anyone question his loyalty to the Canada of his day – did anyone back then?; hell he just about made the country. It’s what people do that counts, not what other people imagine in some warped part of their politically partisan minds that makes a difference.
    In the UK for instance far more damage was done to the country by the divided loyalties and treachery of the upper class twit segment of British society than ever was done by the so called reds under the beds union addled working man. Anyone who seriously thinks either Mulcair or Dion are a security risk to Canada is seriously delusional – which is to say they are most likely being watched by csis and the mounties in particular,  who think its their duty to be delusional and paranoid. Well, they’re paid to be at least; let the rest of us stay out of paranoia land please. 

    • Absolutely agree.

    • I visited his memorial in St Pauls in London. It says something along the line of “A British subject I was born, a British subject I died”. 

      Heck didn’t EVERY Canadian have dual-citizenship until around 1950 or so?

      • Probably. Heck i’m a dually myself AND i’m married to a German…come to think about it i think the mounties in town have been driving by my house quite a lot lately…i thought it had something to do with the druggies across the street…best burn the ole Brit passport to be on the safe side and take down my dartboard; the one with the Harpo face on it. Stick up that old pic of the Queen too – that oughta help. Best you ditch that avatar too mate:) If any one asks i don’t know you.

        • I married an Irish myself. Jaysus, dat and me livin’ outside da country fer a cuplayears. I’ll never be PM now. God, Mary, and Patrick be with me…..

          PS- looking for new avatar photo- thinking Hasselhof might the right one?

          • Why Hasselhoff?[ had to google him]

            You shouldn’t go Hollywood anyway. You should be thinking of a good Canadian boy. Or this one –


          • I refused to be Rickrolled…..but if that’s Bieber, I’m going to be very, very cross with you kcm2.

          • LOL…thanks for that. I now know what rickrolled is.

            Maybe you should keep Vladimir around…the very very cross put the wind up me anyway :)

  5. Regarding your claim Emily that France treats all world leaders the same, can you give me at least one example of a world leader of a country other than France who is a French national?

    Also, diplomatic immunity does not apply to French citizens in France.  As I said, if you are a French citizen, you are recognized as such in France.

    • Diplomatic immunity of leaders is sacred all over the world.

      • If you are recognized as a leader yes, but if you claim to be a citizen of the country that what you are.  You are a citizen of France if you hold French citizenship.  It leads to contradiction in law.  Best to avoid this and relinquish the citizenship.

        So, what is the name of that world leader other than France who is also a French citizen?

        • It amazes me that someone with the name of Lamontagne is so keen to prove France a rogue on the world stage. It is not

          When receiving diplomats—who formally represent the sovereign—the receiving head of state grants certain privileges and immunities to ensure they may effectively carry out their duties, on the understanding that these are provided on a reciprocal basis.


  6. Petty Nationalism. Why do we continue to accept such framing? Why is the quality or expression of anyones ideas dependant on their nationality? Why are the framers of such an argument over identity politics so concerned? 

  7. GMFD – the argument last came up when Jean became GG.  This was covered in the newspapers at the time.  She relinquished the French citizenship she acquired after her marriage because in France and to France she would have remained a French citizen.  She would not have been received as the head of state in France because to the eyes of France and French law she was a French citizen.

    Liberté, égalité, fraternité = all citizens are equal in French law.

    • So France has never refused to recognize or deal with an official of another country who had dual citizenship, and the matter with Michelle Jean is the closest that has ever occurred?   

      • In fact, France assured Mme. jean she could assume the post and carry out whatever duties in France it might entail. 

        • Yup, not a problem.

          Everyone does this…funniest one I ever heard was when Condi Rice was officially made ‘an honourary man’ in order to talk to the Saudi king.

        • I am very happy that France assured Mrs. Jean she could assume her post but I still think they should have no say in this matter. They should not even have to provide such assurance.

          In a statement Mrs. Jean wrote she felt strange remaining a French national because of her duties as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces and therefore relinquished her French citizenship. And she was right in doing so.  Should Mr. Mulcair become prime minister he should follow her example.

          As I said, I have nothing against Mulcair or Dion running to become PM while holding dual citizenship. 

          •  They don’t have a say and they didn’t have t o provide the assurance. 

      • France has always recognized that its citizens are equal, and it can pretty much do what it pleases on its territory with its citizens.  Even if you are a diplomat from another country of which you hold citizenship, if you hold French citizenship, on French soil you are firstly a French citizen.

        France can make its own laws and apply them to its citizens on the territory of Rance. France can even reserve seats in its parliament for ridings abroad, including a seat for North America, which the Canadian government objects to.


        •  Respectfully, you’re having trouble convincing me that there is a realistic argument on this issue.

  8. The main difference between Messrs. Dion and Mulcair, on this issue, is that for M. Dion is was automatic because his mother was French.  Par contre, Mulcair made an active request for this dual-citizenship.

    The Conservatives, of course, mercilessly attacked M. Dion for something over which he had no say.  We will see what they do with this should Mulcair end up winning the NDP leadership.

    • According to the Globe and Mail, Rae has now stepped into the fray, but he’s not arguing that Mulcair should not have dual citizenship: he’s pointing out that the late Jack Layton pounced all over Stephane Dion about this, and asking why the NDP have turned away from their made-up argument. 

      • That’s very true.  I have read that then NDP MP Tony Martin from the Sault had a similar position to Jack.

        • and Pat Martin got in on that bashing too. 

  9. There is something fundamentally wrong if the leader of a country holds citizenship of another country.  There is a clear conflict of interest.  There’s nothing stopping Mulcair from running for PM, but one thing is for sure, I think it would have a negative impact on his support.

    • Nothing wrong with it at all.

      It’s a job.

      And a piece of paper makes no difference to the beliefs you hold, the job you do, or your ‘loyalties’

      If someone really wanted to be PM of this country just to screw it up, do you think a piece of paper…like a birth certificate…. would prevent them from doing so?

      • Citizenship is not a piece of paper LOL

  10. I don’t get it. Why is anyone’s dual citizenship ever an issue?

    • It’s a leftover from the old days of ultra-nationalism I guess….and probably illiteracy….people believe those little lines on a map are real, and that words on a piece of paper are sacred.

      Kinda like some people believe that if you swear on a bible, you’ll tell the truth or God will smite you with a lightening bolt or something.

  11. Supposing Mulcair`s wife was from Fiji and he applied to become a Fijian citizen.
    Most Canadians would think—cool—who wouldn`t want to be a dual Canadian-Fijian citizen.

    But France—What possible benefit could it be to an aspiring Prime Minister to become a dual citizen of France ?

    Since they were given a gift last May the Dippers have made one stupid move after another.

    • I assume you’re joking.

      • I assume he’s lying.

        • —-care to tell me where I`m lying jerk.

  12. I learned to love Andrew Coyne here at Macleans, and one of the sadnesses of my week is seeing the new National Post version of him come out on the wrong side of this issue, with such determination to maintain his blind spot.

    He actually said — paraphrasing — since it’s impossible to have two spouses and love them equally, any candidate vying to be the Prime Minister of Canada should drop their dual citizenship on the grounds of propriety. Which is one of the worst analogies I’ve ever seen presented by a very smart person.

    [EDIT, Coyne verbatim: “Should a man be able to marry two wives? Consecutively, yes. Coincidentally, no. Can’t he love both equally, at the same time? No, actually.” “You’re asking Canadians to choose you. The least you can do is choose them.”]

    Pandering to nationalism is not a way forward for anyone.

    • I haven`t even read Coyne`s column, but I can see from what you say that he`s on the right side on this issue.
      I suspect Coyne asked himself this—-Are the people more likely to vote for Mulcair as leader of the country if he applies for a citizenship from France ?The answer is No.It is that simple.If you don`t have the political instincts to know the answer is No then you should not be aspiring to become PM.

      • That’s even worse then Coyne’s analysis. Obviously neither yourself nor Coyne has ever held two nationalities and consequently neither of you know what you’re talking about. Like HO i’m more then a little disappointed to see AC take such a narrow view of this matter. Coyne’s point that ONLY the PM is affected by this question of divided loyalties is misplaced. Either make the argument that noone should have dual citizenship as a sign of loyalty and commitment or let it go. There must be plenty of people in Ottawa who are in positions of power and influence who retain more then one citizenship.

        • So kc knows what he is talking about because he is a dual citizen and Coyne is clueless because he is just a Canadian.

          Do you tell the folks in your town how enlightened you are because of your dual citizenship ?

          • Do you like walking around with a sticker on your forehead saying: Don’t mind me, i’m just stupid?

  13. Oh good God not this again.

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