Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Are there two classes of citizen?

I don't really have a new opinion on the issue of whether Canada is obligated towards all its citizens equally, or whether residence somehow confers extra benefits. I still think that a citizen is a citizen is a citizen. Trying to split up citizens into two categories reeks of an implicit nativism. But, PM Stevie is trying to have a little discussion about it. (Incidentally, try to restrain the urge to retch at the fawning tone of the article: "His remarks represent another example of his willingness to take a strong and occasionally controversial stand on issues of principal [sic] or that appeal to his core constituency." Please. This has nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with pandering.) Shockingly, a Liberal gets him dead to rights:
There was no complaint last year when Canada tried to rescue hundreds of its nationals from Louisiana after hurricane Katrina, said Dan McTeague, the Liberal who was responsible for the protection of Canadians overseas during the previous government. "Why is it an issue today when it wasn't at this time last year?" he asked. "There is no such thing as degrees of citizenship or classes of citizenship. And what does it say about Canadians who are going around the world imparting their expertise and making Canada a world player? . . . [That] the Prime Minister might review whether or not it's worth the effort of trying to get them out?"
Exactly. If this involved blue-eyed, white-skinned people, there'd be no issue. Since it involves brown-eyed, brown-skinned people, now we have to have a "debate" about whether some citizens are better than others. I'm hard-pressed to interpret this more charitably than as pandering to the racist base of the old Reform party. What else could his motivation be? There's no coherent moral principle in volved in saying that some citizens count less than others. (It's really only a step away from giving some people more electoral votes than others.)

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