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In Depth

The 39th Parliament

MPs and dual citizenship

Last Updated Dec. 8, 2006

From left, Jean Chrétien, Bill Graham, Stéphane Dion, Paul Martin and John Turner after Dion won the leadership in December 2006. Dion and Turner hold dual citizenships. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

At Confederation, the men who sat in the House of Commons came mostly from Ireland, England and Scotland, with a few from the United States and France.

More than a century later, the seats are being filled with people born in Uganda, India and China, among others.

As of December 2006, 41 of the 308 MPs were born in countries other than Canada. Many of them are eligible for dual citizenship and a second passport.

Dual citizenship in Canada

Dual citizenship is a fairly common practice in Canada. According to the 2001 census, more than 691,300 people living in Canada hold dual citizenship. Former prime minister John Turner is among them, as he continues to hold citizenship with the United Kingdom.

But this practice was called into question when Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said he would keep his French citizenship, which he has because his mother was born in that country.

Ezra Levant, a conservative pundit and publisher of the Western Standard, led the charge, criticizing Dion's choice by saying the new Liberal leader could be unduly influenced by France, "a country that has taken up the role of lawyer and arms dealer for every terrorist state in the world."

But Dion says, "I'm proud of who I am, and I am fully loyal to my country." He has said that if it proves to be a problem for a significant number of Canadians, "I will do this sad thing then, to renounce my French citizenship that I received from my mother."

Dion dual dilemma

Is Dion's dual citizenship representative of Canada's dual citizens or does it represent a conflict of interest? Here's what other MPs are saying:

NDP Leader Jack Layton says, "I would prefer that a leader of a party hold only Canadian citizenship, because one represents many Canadians, and for me that means that it's better to remain the citizen of one country."

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says it was "no problem … because he's a modern man, he's not living in a previous century."

British Columbia Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal sees "no problem with [Dion's dual citizenship], in fact, many people, many immigrants to this country, have dual citizenship. I personally think that he should not [renounce his French citizenship], he's as Canadian as anyone else. I think he has paid his dues to Canadians by serving in the public service for many years. He's serving Canadians in a truly dedicated way."

Ontario Liberal MP Omar Alghabra: "I think [the request to renounce Dion's citizenship] is really an attempt to distract us from real issues. Dual citizenship in our country is embraced and allowed. It's really shameful that we start questioning people's loyalty. Dion put his neck on the line for Canada's unity in the '90s, it's his decision what to do."

Ontario Liberal MP Lui Temelkovski: "I think it's ridiculous. I encourage my kids to study abroad and learn other languages. The world is getting smaller."

British Columbia NDP MP Libby Davies: "As a matter of principle, I don't have any opposition to dual citizenship. [Dion]'s Canadian … I don't think it's a test of his loyalty."

Ontario NDP MP Tony Martin: "In any other circumstance, short of being our Governor General or our prime minister, dual citizenship is fine. There are a myriad of reasons for it … to participate as a citizen of the world. I think as prime minister, he should be willing to give up his French citizenship and demonstrate his loyalty to Canada."

Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer: "I think [Dion] should just follow the lead of the Governor General. I don't think it's good that a possible prime minister hold dual citizenship. Say you're the prime minister of Canada and you hold French citizenship … France comes knocking at your door for a deal … you're perceived to be in a conflict of interest. A prime minister should always be clear of any perception of conflict of interest."

Here's a list of current MPs born in other countries, which could qualify them for dual citizenship. CBC.ca contacted these MPs.

1. Diane Ablonczy, Alberta Conservative, was born in the United States. She doesn't hold dual citizenship.

2. Omar Alghabra, Ontario Liberal, was born in Saudi Arabia. He has dual citizenship with Syria through his parents and uses a Canadian passport.

3. Vivian Barbot, Quebec Bloc Québécois, was born in Haiti. She doesn't hold dual citizenship.

4. Sue Barnes, Ontario Liberal, was born in Malta. She is eligible for Maltese citizenship, but hasn't taken it.

5. Maurizio Bevilacqua , Ontario Liberal, was born in Italy. He's no longer an Italian citizen and his spokesperson says he has no interest in whether he's eligible or not.

6. John Cannis, Ontario Liberal, was born in Greece. He doesn't have dual citizenship.

7. Raymond Chan, British Columbia Liberal, was born in Hong Kong. He has dual citizenship with Britain.

8. Chris Charlton, Ontario NDP, was born in Germany. She does not hold dual citizenship.

9. Olivia Chow, Ontario NDP, was born in China. She does not hold dual citizenship.

10. Tony Clement, Ontario Conservative, was born in England. His office did not return calls.

11. Libby Davies, British Columbia NDP, was born in England. She believes she has dual citizenship because she has never renounced it, but she uses only a Canadian passport.

12. Sukh Dhaliwal, British Columbia Liberal, was born in India. When he moved to Canada, India did not allow dual citizenships. Now, though he's eligible to renew his Indian citizenship, he says, "At this point in time, I am a Canadian citizen."

13. Ujjal Dosanjh, British Columbia Liberal, was born in India. When he arrived in Canada in 1968, dual citizenship wasn't allowed for India.

14. Steven Fletcher, Manitoba Conservative, was born in Brazil. He says, "I was eligible [for Brazilian citizenship] but chose not to take it because I didn't want to be drafted into the army."

15. Raymonde Falco, Quebec Liberal, was born in France. She doesn't hold dual citizenship.

16. Hedy Fry, British Columbia Liberal, was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She doesn't hold dual citizenship, though she is eligible.

17. Nina Grewal, British Columbia Conservative, was born in Japan, went to school in India, and lived in Liberia. She does not hold dual citizenship.

18. Albina Guarnieri, Ontario Liberal, was born in Italy. She doesn't hold dual citizenship, though she is eligible.

19. Rahim Jaffer, Alberta Conservative, was born in Uganda. He came to Canada as a refugee, so he does not maintain any citizenship claims with Uganda.

20. Jim Karygiannis, Ontario Liberal, was born in Greece. He holds dual citizenship.

21. Wajid Khan, Ontario Liberal, was born in Pakistan. He holds dual citizenship and has Canadian and Pakistani passports.

22. Maka Kotto, Quebec Bloc Québécois, was born in Cameroon. He, as a dual citizen, holds a French passport in addition to his Canadian one.

23. Gurbax Malhi, Ontario Liberal, was born in India. He doesn't hold dual citizenship.

24. Inky Mark, Manitoba Conservative, was born in China. He doesn't hold dual citizenship. He is eligible to recover his Chinese citizenship, but his spokesperson says he has no desire to do so.

25. Keith Martin, British Columbia Liberal, was born in England. His citizenship status is unknown, as his spokesperson says that he doesn't like to give out personal information.

26. Tony Martin, Ontario NDP, was born in Ireland. While being Irish is a big part of his life, he does not hold dual citizenship.

27. Maria Minna, Ontario Liberal, was born in Italy. When she came to Canada, she had to relinquish her Italian citizenship. She would be eligible for renewal.

28. Maria Mourani, Quebec Bloc Québécois, was born in the Ivory Coast. She used to hold Lebanese (through her parents) and Ivory Coast passports in addition to her Canadian one. Both have expired, but she is still eligible for them.

29. Deepak Obhrai, Alberta Conservative, was born in Tanzania. He doesn't hold dual citizenship.

30. Daniel Petit, Quebec Conservative, was born in Belgium. He only holds a Canadian passport.

31. Yasmin Ratansi, Ontario Liberal, was born in Tanzania. She doesn't hold dual citizenship.

32. Pablo Rodriguez, Quebec Liberal, was born in Argentina. He holds dual citizenship.

33. Michael Savage, Nova Scotia Liberal, was born in Northern Ireland. He holds dual citizenship with the United Kingdom, but uses a Canadian passport.

34. Mario Silva, Ontario Liberal, was born in Portugal. He holds dual citizenship and uses a Canadian passport.

35. Peter Stoffer, Nova Scotia NDP, was born in the Netherlands. He became a Canadian citizen in 1980. He says, "I'm a Canuck now."

36. Andrew Telegdi, Ontario Liberal, was born in Hungary. He doesn't hold dual citizenship.

37. Lui Temelkovski, Ontario Liberal, was born in Macedonia. He uses a Canadian passport, but hasn't renounced his Macedonian rights. He says, "I wouldn't have a problem with a passport from there because that's where I was born."

38. Myron Thompson, Alberta Conservative, was born in the United States. He holds dual citizenship.

39. Vic Toews, Manitoba Conservative, was born in Paraguay. He doesn't hold dual citizenship.

40. Joe Volpe, Ontario Liberal, was born in Italy. When he got his Canadian citizenship, he wasn't allowed to hold two.

41. John Williams, Alberta Conservative, was born in Scotland. His spokesperson couldn't comment on his citizenship.

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