Dion among a dozen MPs with dual citizenshipsAt least 11 members of Parliament, other than Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, hold dual citizenships, CBC.ca research has confirmed.
Dion was criticized this week because of his reluctance to give up his French citizenship. He was born in Canada but holds dual citizenship because his mother was born in France.
The Parliament of Canada website shows that 41 of the 308 MPs sitting in the House of Commons were born in 28 countries other than Canada, ranging from Uganda and Malta to China and the United Kingdom.
Many of these MPs qualify for dual citizenship. That puts them in the ranks of the 691,300 people living in Canada who hold dual citizenships, according to the 2001 census.
CBC.ca called their offices to check on their current status and found that the following MPs hold dual citizenships:
- Omar Alghabra (Ontario Liberal), with Syria.
- Raymond Chan (British Columbia Liberal), with the United Kingdom.
- Libby Davies (British Columbia NDP), with the United Kingdom.
- Jim Karygiannis (Ontario Liberal), with Greece.
- Wajid Khan (Ontario Liberal), with Pakistan.
- Maka Kotto (Quebec Bloc Québécois), with France.
- Pablo Rodriguez (Quebec Liberal), with Argentina.
- Michael Savage (Nova Scotia Liberal), with the United Kingdom.
- Mario Silva (Ontario Liberal), with Portugal.
- Lui Temelkovski (Ontario Liberal), with Macedonia.
- Myron Thompson (Alberta Conservative), with the United States.
Three of the foreign-born MPs' citizenship status remains unknown.
Health Minister Tony Clement's office had not returned repeated calls by Friday afternoon.
Keith Martin's spokeperson said the Liberal MP doesn't like to divulge personal information, and Conservative John Williams's spokesperson couldn't comment on his citizenship.
The remaining 27 MPs don't hold dual citizenships.
Other MPs may be eligible for dual citizenship through their parents or spouses, as is the case with Dion.
Many not interested in dual citizenship
Recent changes in laws allowing dual citizenship in other countries mean that some MPs born abroad are now eligible to renew the citizenship they had to relinquish when they moved to Canada.
However, many aren't interested in doing so, according to the CBC.ca survey.
Those include MPs born in Italy — such as Liberals Maurizio Bevilacqua, Albina Guarnieri, Maria Minna and Joe Volpe — and MPs born in India like Liberals Sukh Dhaliwal and Ujjal Dosanjh.
'At this point in time, I am a Canadian citizen.'-Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal
When Dhaliwal arrived in Canada, dual citizenship with India wasn't allowed. Now, though he could renew his Indian citizenship, he told CBC.ca, "At this point in time, I am a Canadian citizen."
Maria Mourani of the Bloc Québécois could be eligible for three citizenships. She is a Canadian citizen, but was born in Ivory Coast and held a passport from there. She also held a Lebanese passport, for which she was eligible through her parents.
Both passports have expired, but she is still eligible to claim citizenship with both countries.
Dual citizenship important to some
For some MPs, their second citizenship is important. Liberal Lui Temelkovski, a Macedonian-Canadian citizen, says he encourages his children to study abroad and learn other languages.
NDP Tony Martin was born in Ireland but does not hold dual citizenship. However, he understands why someone would want to hold two citizenships.
"There are a myriad of reasons for it … to participate as a citizen of the world," he said.
Many of the MPs told CBC.ca that the world is becoming smaller, and that their birth in another country reflects the many nations that make up Canada.
For others, like Libby Davies, the question came as a surprise.
"I don't know if I have dual citizenship," she said. "I guess I do. I've never renounced it, but I don't have a British passport. I consider myself truly Canadian."