Since coming into power in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken various steps to redefine Canadian citizenship and reassert its value under a territorial, militaristic, loyalist, conformist and Anglocentric interpretation. As numerous commentators have noted, these reforms have unfolded within Harper’s broader campaign to (re)define the meaning of being Canadian along conservative ideals and British traditions. Conservative officials deny the existence of such an underlying agenda, arguing their reforms simply addressed specific problems in the system, such as massive fraud and application backlogs. Recent citizenship debates in English Canada have dwelt mostly on the question of whether it is a right or a privilege; on issues of legality and process; and on measures of loyalty, attachment or worthiness. But there is more to it.
I wrote a three-part series for ActiveHistory.ca exploring the historical narratives and political myths supporting the Conservative government’s parochial views on Canadian citizenship, and how they affect Canada and its expats’ places in the world.
Part one – “It’s about history. But whose?” – focuses on the policies and the politicians; part two – “Who
killed spawned Canadian citizenship?” – on the historians; and part three – “Whence they left” – on Canada’s expats and diasporas.