Being Canadian: Dual citizenship in historical perspective

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Abstract

Why do states configure their citizenship laws in certain ways? Why do they allow or prohibit dual citizenship? Why was it only in 1946 that Canada decided to enact its first citizenship law which prohibited multiple national allegiances? Why was a similar proposal abandoned in 1931? And why was this citizenship law changed in 1977 to allow dual citizenship? A common answer is that citizenship reflects the national identity of each nation-state. Through a perusal of the debates regarding citizenship laws in Canada, I locate the particular motivation for introducing those laws. I argue that although the symbolic element of citizenship laws is significant, citizenship laws are enacted as a political instrument to achieve immediate and specific goals. In particular, accepting dual citizenship in Canada should be seen as a one of the strategies political elites tried in order to incorporate English and French speakers under the same flag.

Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)448-466
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Review of Canadian Studies
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2014

Keywords

  • Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946
  • Citizenship Act of 1977
  • citizenship
  • expatriation
  • nationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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