Thursday, December 07, 2006

Citizen Dion

Andrew Coyne continues his lament for the Trudeau vision of Canadian nationalism, while failing to realize that the Trudeau vision of a bilingual, multicultural state has contributed to the very lack of coherent Canadian national identity it supposedly remedied.

Nonetheless, he is right about the mixed message Stephane Dion's refusal to renounce his French citizenship sends to Canadians:

For such a venture to succeed, it demands some measure of commitment. We cannot just opt in and out of the social contract as we please, obeying some laws but not others, paying some taxes but not the rest. Either you're in, that is, or you're out -- you can be one or the other, but not both at the same time. The seal on that commitment is that we forswear all other allegiances. The things we value are the things that cost us, and the price of a Canadian passport is -- or should be -- that you cannot carry another.


Citizenship is external, a set of rights and privileges we expect for ourselves and acknowledge in others. In other nations, this is understood implicitly: try to imagine the Americans electing a president who was also a citizen of another country. Perhaps that makes us more advanced than them. Or perhaps it explains why we have been perched on the brink of dissolution for 40 years, enervated, irresolute, unable to move this way or that for fear of triggering our own destruction: a country in which it is considered business as usual for its several parts to blackmail and threaten each other. Perhaps, that is, we have simply forgotten what it is to be a nation, or what citizenship means.

But even in this country, we understand that it is necessary sometimes to choose. It is unlikely, as others have pointed out, that Mr. Dion could have been elected leader of the Liberal party were he also a member of the NDP. Can it be otherwise for the leader of the country, that he should also be a citizen of another?

Dion's inability to understand the public response to his refusal to renounce dual citizenship reflects an increasing gulf between the public and the elites over the nature of citizenship and national identity.

Dion is like many transnational progressives, who see supranational institutions such as the United Nations as possessing some superior moral authority, indeed as the grantor of that "citizenship of the world" to which all enlightened folk are expected to aspire.

The elites of the world identify more with each other than with the ordinary citizens of their respective nations. If they do not act as one world government in law, or even in fact, clearly it is an ideal to which they aspire.

They are not unlike the old royal houses of Europe, who saw nothing incongruous about marrying off their daughters to become foreign queens and taking foreign thrones for themselves.

Nations and national loyalties are mere playthings and embarrassments to them. Little wonder that they act accordingly.


johnnylib said...

You guys are having a hard time with Dion.
This stuff just doesnt stick

Can you really question his loyalty when he authored the clarity act?

I don't think so, it appears the media doesnt think so.
And it also appears Joe Public doesnt think so.

You guys should worry about Harper and giving canadians a reason to vote for you.

wilson61 said...

Mr. Dion:
'Do you love Canada?'

Joe Public will be asked to vote for a Liberal leader who can not speak english and will not give up his French citizenship.
Ya, that's a winning ticket.