Canada’s Dual Citizen Politicians
As Australia ousts MPs with dual citizenship, Canada’s Parliament embraces many in its ranks
As a dual citizenship debacle rocks Australia’s political world, Canada’s Parliament embraces sitting MPs and Senators who were born around the world and hold dual, or even triple, citizenship.
There are now at least 56 sitting parliamentarians — 44 MPs and 12 senators — born in countries outside Canada, according to information from the Library of Parliament and websites.
At least 22 of them have citizenship from other countries, CBC News confirmed through queries to parliamentarians’ offices.
That figure does not include MPs and senators who hold citizenship through descent, naturalization or marriage.
Canadian MPs hold citizenship from various countries, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Portugal, Poland, Pakistan, Syria, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Here’s why you can’t be a dual citizen and an Australian politician
The High Court has in its unanimous decision has ruled today that Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister, ineligible for parliament because he has New Zealand citizenship.
It has also ruled ineligible senators Malcolm Roberts of One Nation, Larissa Waters of the Greens, Fiona Nash of the Nationals and Scott Ludlam of the Greens. Their positions in the Senate have been declared vacant.
The National Party’s Matt Canavan and South Australian Nick Xenophon are eligible. Xenophon is leaving the Senate in any case to return to state politics in South Australia.
Here’s why you can’t be a dual citizen and an Australian politician.
What does the Constitution say?
Section 44 of the Constitution sets out several disqualifications that result in a person being:
… incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
One of those is Section 44(i). It disqualifies any person who:
… is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power.
Section 44(i) effectively means that dual citizens are not ordinarily eligible to be elected to parliament.
When dual citizenship becomes conflict of interest
The Biblical injunction that “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24) doesn’t apply to nations. Almost half of the world’s countries, including the U.S., recognize dual citizenship– even when they don’t encourage it for the complicated legal issues it often raises.
For example, one who obeys a requirement to give allegiance to a country or votes in a foreign election may be regarded as having renounced citizenship in the other country. What happens when the legal claims of one country conflict with those of the second country? Which of the two countries has an obligation to assist a dual national in distress?
Until the Supreme Court decided otherwise in the 1967 case of Afroyim v. Rusk, a U.S. citizen who voted in a political election in a foreign state would forfeit his or her U.S. citizenship. From that point on, dual citizens have maintained their right to vote and hold public office without penalty.
Anyone can become a dual citizen, even members of Congress, high court judges and top officials of the executive branch. There’s no law or regulation against it. Nor are they required to disclose such dual citizenship.Share on Facebook Tweet about this