Wednesday, 25 June 2014

If Mohamed Fahmy Is A Canadian Then Why Isn't Jim Carrey An American?: On 'Canadians' and Canucks.

Tough break for Mohamed Fahmy. He was handed a seven year prison sentence in Egypt on terrorism related charges. This is Egypt so you can be assured the charges are bogus.

So why is he Canada's problem?

Oh right, that dual citizenship thing. You see, Mohamed Fahmy was born in Egypt and lived there until his family immigrated to Canada in 1991. They eventually spoke the enchanted words of the citizenship oath and like a Hogwarts spell presto-chango were magically transformed into maple syrup bleeding Canadians on the spot.

Mohamed Fahmy is forty years old which means he was seventeen when he first arrived in Canada. According to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Fahmy hasn't lived in Canada for the past eleven years. Doing the math Fahmy hasn't lived in Canada for twenty-eight years out of his forty year life. He's only spent twelve years of his life in Canada spending the majority of his life outside the country. Yet, he's Canadian somehow and therefore our responsibility.

But if Mohamed Fahmy is Canadian then why isn't Jim Carrey an American? Jim Carrey is a famous Hollywood comedic actor. He was born in Canada but for most of his life has lived and worked in the U.S. He also holds U.S. citizenship. Applying the criteria the Canadian media does to claim Mohamed Fahmy as Canadian, and thus our responsibility, then Jim Carrey is not Canadian but is, in fact, an American.

But we don't say that do we? We say Jim Carrey is Canadian just like we do with Mike Myers or with any Canadian who's made a name for him or herself outside the country. We even do it with Keanu Reeves even though he wasn't born in Canada and was merely passing through.

When it comes to claiming citizens we want our cake and to eat it too. When foreigners move to Canada and become Canadian citizens we say they're Canadians now. When Canadian born citizens move abroad and become dual citizens of a foreign country we still claim them as Canadians. And when foreigners with Canadian citizenship return to their homelands we still call them Canadians even though they're now living in their native lands of birth.  Funny that.

But what is citizenship if nothing more than a legal document granting you specific state guarantees and protections. Beyond that it doesn't say anything about you. That's why there's a difference between Canadian citizens and Canadians, between "Canadians" and "Canucks." We inherently know the differences and words on a piece of paper can't easily erase them.

There are some 50,000 Canadians right now living and working in Lebanon. There's an additional 300,000 or so Canadians living and working in Hong Kong. There's a total 2.8 million Canadians living and working abroad, mostly in the U.S. How many of these people are dual citizens and if so why should their Canadian nationality take precedence in their dual citizenship status? China doesn't recognize dual citizenship at all. In the eyes of Beijing dual Chinese-Canadian citizens are nothing but Chinese. The Indian government recognizes its overseas citizens as Non Resident Indians. It further recognizes the children born to its overseas population as a Person of Indian Origin for two generations; likewise for Egypt. Canada only recognizes one generation but this does mean one can be born and live abroad not having once set foot in the country and not know a word in either English of French let alone be able to locate Canada on a map and still be considered Canadian by law.

Being born in Canada doesn't mean you're Canadian either. Many are being born on Canadian soil in cultural and social settings that are de facto colonies of nations with no historical or founding roots in the creation of the country. With the aid of modern day communications technology what we euphemistically refer to as ethnic communities are in practice territorial expansions of other nations on Canadian soil.

What I'm saying is citizenship doesn't mean anything anymore. Now, it's nothing more than the legal right to carry a passport of a particular nation and expect the protection of the government that issued it and access to the benefits of the society it governs. It used to mean something when you said you were British, or American, or French, or Australian, or German, or Spanish, or Canadian. Thanks to globalization and the culturally suicidal madness of multiculturalism mass immigration, mostly third world immigration, is making western societies more alike rather than enhancing the uniqueness and attractiveness of each nation. It's the paradox of multiculturalism. The more multicultural a nation becomes the less multicultural the world. Now what makes us different is just geography and language where citizenship is sought based on ease of attainment and the entitlements and protections it bestows to the holder. We're not importing "new Canadians." We're assuming liabilities.

This brings me back to Mohamed Fahmy. In his defense he told the court he could "never possibly betray his country." When I read that I was honestly puzzled. How does he mean he could never possibly betray Canada? Then I realized when he said "his country" he meant Egypt. I guess Canada is just an insurance policy then; to bail him out when he gets into trouble. He's Egyptian but Canadian when it suites his needs but that's the "new Canadian" I've come to discover. Be it a hyphen, dual citizen, "newcomer", immigrant or their Canadian born kids they're Canadian but only when they need to be.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Completely agree. Being a multi-generational Canadian living in Toronto I have fully lost the sense of what it means to be Canadian now that our government policies have shredded the European cultural base it was built upon. Our culture and identity are being washed away by mass immigration. Everyday as more and more of the waves of non European immigrants flood Toronto we lose our common threads and watch the country break apart as the government fawns over these new immigrant groups grovelling for their votes and demeaning any European based Canadian as a racist if they stand up to the erasing of our cultural identity and rewriting of our history so that they can feel more at home.

Benjamin S said...

Citizenship now is just a tag that protects a person under the country in which they are a permanent resident. It is hard to find their commitment towards the country and culture.
Every year more than 200 000 people immigrate to Canada (84 000 skilled workers, 64 000 other economic applicants, etc. - for reference here is a blog from Matthew Jeffery, Toronto: http://matthewjeffery.com/blog/canadian-immigration/many-people-immigrate-canada-every-year/ ) and among them a good number will get PR in few years from their arrival. Now the rule has changed but still there is no reduction in these statistics. They are very much fear the laws and people until they have a PR.

Anonymous said...

Well written. Fist time on this page, and you kept me reading.

Stop Immigration said...

Identity politics is the new patriotism.