The Official languages are english AND french but...

Joe   Friday, November 12, 2004, 03:17 GMT
You're right. The Canadian Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, was born in Hong Kong. Her family was able to emigrate to Canada during WWII because of Canada's clause in their Chinese Emigration Act that allowed for special circumstances, in this case Japanese invading China and having previously taken her father, but he was freed in an exchange with the British because he was a British subject.

I would assume that as long as they were Canadian citizens they could run for PM. In the United States you can run for Congress or any elected office even if you weren't born here. However you have to have had citizenship for a certain amount of time. For the House it's 7 years, for Senate it's 9 years. The Presidency however, stated in Article II of the Constitution, requires that the President be a natural born US citizen AND have been a resident of the United States for 14 years. This means you can't go live abroad and come back and all of a sudden run for office.

Some people are trying to get an Amendment to the Constitution passed that abolishes the natural-born citizenship requirement. It's mainly because they want Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for President and he can't become the President of the United States under the provisions of Article II.
Ottawan   Friday, November 12, 2004, 03:21 GMT
Yes... all true.

The current GG was born in Hong Kong, but has been a Canadian citizen since childhool. No one who is a non-citizen would be appointed to the job.

In Canada, unlike the United States anyone can be elected leader of the country as long as they are citizens. It doesn't matter where they were born. In fact, we have a lot of politicians here from all over the place.... not just Europe but Asia, Africa, the Carribbean and South America.

In the U.S. naturalized citizens can hold any offices except for President, Vice President and, I believe, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (not 100% about that one, though).
Paul   Friday, November 12, 2004, 06:47 GMT
While it is possible for someone who gained his Canadian Citizenship later in life to become the Prime Minister, which is our all powerful position, practically only Bilingual Canadians with a strong connection to the French or English Canadian Communities would have any chance of being selected by their party in the Leadership race.

Ever since the 1960's, the P.M. has been a strong Bilingual speaker.
An earlier system of powerful French Leutenents in Quebec created too many problems.

Regards, Paul V.
nic   Friday, November 12, 2004, 10:57 GMT

Look at Arnold Schwarzeneger, he's not a native US but from Austria. So it can be the same in US. Maybe what you meant was you don't need the canadian nationality for being canadian politic? It seems bizarre.

In France you must be french since a few generations.
Toasté   Friday, November 12, 2004, 15:31 GMT
Right now, under the Constitution Arnold Schwarzenneger can never become President of the United States.

You DO need to be a Canadian citizen to be in Canadian politics, but you can originally be from another country. We have MPs and Senators who are Ismailis, Arabs, Chinese, Sikh, Hindu, Americans, Germans, lots of Italians, Portuguese, Spanish, Bermuda, Carribbean, Ukrainian, British, and the list goes on).

Interestingly, we also tend to have a lot fewer rich people in politics than they do in other countries.

Paul is absolutely correct about all recent Prime Ministers being bilingual Canadians, in fact, the most successful ones have all been from Quebec. It would be virtually impossible right now for someone to become Prime Minister if they don't speak French and English fluently. That's not a law, it's just the way things have evolved here.

As for France, my understanding is that anyone who is a French citizen can hold any elected office in the country BUT, practically, France never elects anyone who is not impeccably French... you even have to have the right education. And it doesn't hurt if you have a 'de' in your name.

I love France (in fact thanks to my mother I have dual French and Canadian Citizenship) but they have a very elitist political system.


I was wrong earlier about the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court... apparently that person can be non U.S.-born. Apparently, even the Vice-President COULD be a non-native born American but then the VP would lose the right to succeed to the Presidency, so there really wouldn't be any point to it.
Paul   Monday, November 15, 2004, 02:19 GMT
I suspect most political systems in the Western world are elitist.

I heard France is a Technocracy. You definiately need to come from the right French schools with the right degree. It is interesting in the U.S. that the right schools for a political career, include British Universities like Oxford and Cambridge. They have a special caveat in Canada too.

Regards, Paul V.
Steve K   Monday, November 15, 2004, 03:01 GMT
Canadian politicians are generally considered by Canadians to come mainly from two caegories; egocentric lawyers or self-seeking political careerists who have their snout in the public trough. They are not widely respected. As to whether they are less rich than in "other countries" as Toaste claims, I would like to see the proof and would like to know which "other countries".
nic   Monday, November 15, 2004, 08:37 GMT

What you said is wrong, for example many politivs are french with foreign origins especially italians and polish, the best actual example is "Sarkozy" but you also have Dewedjian...

"De" does not especially mean any aristocratic origin. Why should it hurt because their name has a de.

"being impeccably French", what do mean, there's noone in France who considers himself as impeccably French, for a simple reason. French are not and cannot impeccably french, it's impossible. Most of them are italians, spanish, portuguese or german by origins.
Easterner   Monday, November 15, 2004, 09:05 GMT

Nicolas Sarkozy's parents were Hungarian refugees, but he himself can be considered French because he was born in Paris (I think he can't even speak Hungarian, unlike Joschka Fischer, who was born as an ethnic German in Hungary). Sarkozy is of aristocratic descent, by the way... Dewedjian is I think Armenian, as is Charles Aznavour, whose original name was Aznavourian. And moving away from politics, you have Isabelle Adjani, who is half-Algerian... In the light of this, I think that you don't have to be "impeccably French" to succeed in France, whether in politics or elsewhere. Education and personal charisma seems to be more important in this respect.
Easterner   Monday, November 15, 2004, 09:17 GMT
The above was a reaction to the posts of both Nic and Toasté.
nic   Monday, November 15, 2004, 10:06 GMT

Sarkozy said himself he was from polish family.
nic   Monday, November 15, 2004, 10:14 GMT

I never said it was bad to be from foreign origins and having political life in France. I just said in reaction of what Toasté said. The expression being impeccabily french does not mean amything. Majority of french people are not. Being french does not mean your family was french in the past.

About Sarkozy, maybe i made a mystake and he's hungarian, you seem to know very well the subject.

About Adjani, i knew it, the same with Aznavour, Smet, brel.
You can notice most of the singers in France are not french but belgian.
Easterner   Monday, November 15, 2004, 11:01 GMT

It is the same in Hungary, there are a lot of people with German, Slovak, Croatian, etc. descent. I think France has always been a melting pot, because of its history, and because it was the destination of many political refugees. So I agree with you. :-)

Generally, speaking of "impeccable" descent is always directed against somebody, much like being of "pure" descent or "Aryan" meant that you have no Jewish ancestors, and we all know the results, among others in Hungary, too. In the same way, many people were stigmatized because of their German descent after WWII in Hungary. I think it is not descent that matters, but your identity.

I also think people with non-French origins are also characteristically French, because they are part of the multi-cultural community in France, and they also identify themselves as French, regardless of their descent. Aznavour has always been symbolic of France for me, and I have always liked his chansons. Those chansons were also one reason for me to start learning French at high school. :-)
Easterner   Monday, November 15, 2004, 11:04 GMT
>>they are part of the multi-cultural community in France<<

Sorry, I wanted to say "part of French culture".
Jim   Monday, November 15, 2004, 11:31 GMT
Technically ERII is in the 'all powerful' position. Not so in practice ... but a GG can dismiss a PM cf Aust. PM G. Whitlem. OK different country but similar system.