Alex Massie

Happy Birthday Canada! | 1 July 2010

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A shout-out to Canadian friends and readers on this, your national day. Another year passed: another year of peace and prosperity in the northland. Here's my friend Will Wilkinson writing about how he became an accidental Canadian:

As the clock struck midnight on April 17, 2009, the Canadian citizenship of my Saskatchewan-born but subsequently naturalized American father was restored. And thus, thanks to Bill C-37, an amendment to the Canadian Citizenship Act, so was mine. Under its terms, all Canadians who had lost their citizenship when they took on a new nationality—i.e., Canadians like my dad, who became an American in June 1965—regained it, as did their first generation of offspring.

Maybe it takes an Iowan to get stoked about becoming Canadian, but I was sufficiently stoked to travel to Ottawa a couple days shy of this magical moment so that I would suddenly become always Canadian in Canada’s capital, among other so-called lost Canadians.

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[...]My first full day as a citizen turned out to be overclimactically surreal. While arranging an interview with Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship, immigration, and multiculturalism, I had agreed in passing that his office could point reporters toward me, an example of a newfound Canadian. So the morning of the 17th, I discover that an article about the just-effectuated bill from the Canadian Press wire service begins and ends with the case of Will Wilkinson. (For the first time, it is said that I have an “American” fiancée.) Through Twitter, I learn that a pundit friend in D.C. has received an e‑mail from the Canadian government that mentions me by name. I have become the exemplary lost Canadian. I’m vain enough to be tickled and Canadian enough to be mortified, as I tour the carefully curated office of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, with other lost Canadians, many of whom have waited decades for this day.

In the afternoon, I meet with Kenney to discuss the new law. An assistant photographs us shaking hands in front of a flag. The minister himself seems damn happy to have me.

At dinner after our first Canadian day, one of us, Dean Echenberg, a physician from California, produces his Canadian passport, which he has managed to secure on the first possible day. We pass it around the table and marvel. It is real.

Canada, land of moose and hockey, curlers and Mounties, we salute you.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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