I try not to get into politics on here, but this needs to be said:
Working, studying, living or traveling abroad, even for years at a time, does not make you less Canadian.
Prime Minister Harper and his cronies might think they’re only attacking the Liberal leader with their IGNATIEFF: JUST VISITING campaign, but they’re actually insulting and dismissing any of us who’ve made being abroad an important part of our lives. ESL teachers? Diplomats? Foreign correspondents? Members of the military? Doctors without Borders volunteers? PhD students on Rhodes Scholarships?
By the logic of “Just Visiting,” all those people have somehow reneged on or forfeited their essential Canadian-ness. And that kind of attitude is plain ignorant.
This isn’t about party or personal loyalties. I don’t have much use for Michael Ignatieff – let’s start with his writings on torture and go from there – and I’m certainly not a card-carrying member of the LPC. I’d even be fine with a more nuanced argument: Maybe Ignatieff is out of touch with the issues that matter to Canadians after his years overseas, right? Or maybe politicians should have deeper roots in their constituencies? (Tell that to any number of parachuted-in MPs.) Sure. Maybe.
But the Harperite equation isn’t that complicated. As far as I can tell from the ads and flyers, it’s simply this:
Living overseas = No true commitment to Canada.
And that, pardon my language, is bullshit.
If all goes as planned, I’ll spend good chunks of the next few decades out of the country. As I’ve done for the last few seasons, I’ll watch bits and pieces of the Stanley Cup playoffs on obscure cable channels in foreign countries, plead with bartenders in sports bars to change the channel away from basketball and soccer, or watch a shaky CBC feed on the web. I’ll keep up with the news back home on globeandmail.com. I’ll have my parents mail me my tax forms and file them from wherever I find myself, and I’ll request an absentee ballot at election time.
At no time do I expect to stop thinking of myself as Canadian.
And when I come home, whether for a week or a year? I sure as hell won’t be just visiting.
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