Which Country Would You Die For?

My take on dual loyalties:

We live in a globalized world. We have diverse identities, both individually and collectively. As Canada’s diversity continues to increase through immigration and intermarriage, our identities will continue to become more varied and blended.

Our ability to follow global events and to participate in political and other activities in other countries will also continue to increase.

But we do not expect interest in countries of origin to be exclusive. We expect citizens to vote in Canada. We expect citizens to participate in Canadian political, social and economic debates, and not only vote or advocate on behalf of “homeland” issues.

By and large, the government is comfortable with this approach. The only exception is with respect to citizenship revocation in cases of national security or comparable issues, where the revisions to the Citizenship Act distinguish between single and dual citizens. In other words, the existing long-standing policy that a Canadian-is-a-Canadian — whether single or dual national, whether born in Canada or naturalized — no longer applies.

As Canadians continue to navigate and develop their various identities, we expect them to find a balance between their ethnic or country of origin identity and their Canadian identity. We have few hard and fast rules, given the complexity of our lives and identities, and provide considerable scope for Canadians to express their country of origin. However, we expect this activity to be grounded in a commitment to participate in Canadian life.

Which Country Would You Die For? – New Canadian Media – NCM.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

4 Responses to Which Country Would You Die For?

  1. Victoria says:

    That is a very fine article, Andrew, and a very provocative question. Let me be a curmudgeon here and answer that most citizens of developed countries do not anticipate ever having to die for ANY country. 🙂

    Here is another provocative question (I am just full of troublesome questions these days): You talk about Canadians in Canada and expectations. Take the Canadian out of Canada and do they change? Are there unspoken implicit expectations about how they should express their Canadian identity outside of Canada? Is there work they are supposed to be doing on Canada’s behalf even if they are not members of the military or the foreign service?

    The context for those questions is my own questioning of that whole idea of diasporans as “unofficial ambassadors.” Where does that come from? Is it a home country expectation or is it a signal from the diaspora to the homeland. Is it effective in either sense?

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks. And as to the curmudgeon in you, valid point, but we do have extremists who travel to Syria, Iraq etc to enrol in extremist forces like ISIS, and we do have some who enrol in the IDF and other armed forces. An extreme example of dual loyalties.

      Good question on expat Canadians. I think govts like to use diasporas, and some within diasporas, are happy to do so – and some do it extremely well. But I would not necessarily set expectations because then it legitimizes the expectations of other countries with respect to their diasporas.

      One of the better uses of diasporas was when I was in LA and we were organizing a PM visit. The only way we could get access to the entertainment was thru some of the Canadians in the industry.

      So my expectation is for them to be open to requests for help but not at the obligation stage.

      Your thoughts?

      • Victoria says:

        Definitely governments see opportunity in their diasporas. Can they influence the host country in support of home country objectives? Sometimes. The Armenians in France (see the 2006 French law that makes denying it a crime) . Or another I noted was a retired US soldier in an Asian country who helped the US military set up in that country.

        Your expectation that Canadians abroad be open but not obligated to help feels very similar to Americans and Americans abroad in the two countries I lived in.

        Expectations are tough to uncover because they aren’t written down anywhere and we (homeland and emigrant) only discover them indirectly. A rule has been violated (or affirmed) and moral pressure (or praise) applied. The one I think of most often is dual citizenship which only became feasible for many Americans abroad in the early 1990’s. This was not so much the result of law but of an administrative decision by the State Department in reaction to a ruling in a court case. As a result there was never a national debate about it and so Americans were never really asked what they thought of the whole business. But I can say that those people in the homeland I’ve talked to, don’t like it much irrespective of where they sit on the political spectrum. So the expectation seems to be that Americans who go abroad are not to take on other citizenships without a very compelling reason. I did wonder if I was making too much of this until I started doing advocacy work and I was told that when in Washington I was to make it very clear that I was still a US citizen and ONLY a US citizen. Otherwise I lost credibility, goodwill and had less standing to make our case. It surprised me because I hadn’t thought it made that much difference.

        In France the expectation I find quite often is You Will Come Back : all those expats will return one day to the Hexagon. Maybe the majority do return – I have no idea – but I’ve met French in the US and in Asia and they’ve been out of the country for 10, 20, 30 years and I don’t think it’s realistic to think they will return.

        Do Canadians have either of those expectations of the Canadians abroad? Or are there others? One thing I’ve noticed about the few Canadians I’ve met here is how little they express their Canadianess abroad. They are very VERY discreet.

      • Andrew says:

        I can’t think of any real expectations that would garner consensus (apart for cheering for Canada’s hockey team at the Olympics!). I don’t recall any Ministers setting expectations when travelling abroad, although the programs usually include events with expatriates (typically local Canada-Other Country business associations).

        We would expect Canadian expats to take our calls from Embassies and Consulates and help out on events, but I haven’t seen any polling data on what the general public’s expectations are. Given our winters, no expectation of return and our approach to dual citizenship is relaxed (it always annoys me that we celebrate other countries national days as part of multiculturalism rather than just the cultural and religious holidays).

        Part of the ambiguity that has generally served us well.

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