Imagine that you are a Jew and one day you decide to make aliyah to Israel, your right according to the Israeli Law of Return. You arrive in the Holy Land, establish yourself in a major Israeli city like Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, and claim the rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship. What do you suppose Israel would do if, the day after you received your official Israeli citizenship, with your Israeli passport and all else that comes with it, you were to declare that you renounced your Judaism and were converting to the most militantly anti-Israeli version of Islam possible, that you were taking out membership in the National Socialist Party in the hopes of establishing an Israeli branch, put up a website promoting the doctrines of Adolf Hitler, ran a swastika flag up the pole outside your house, and declared that you could in no way be loyal to a Jewish ethnostate and that Israel must cease to be such in order to accommodate you? What do you suppose Israel would do if you told them in advance before submitting your application for citizenship that you would be doing this?
I think it is fair to say that the Israeli government would take a rather dim view of all of this, to put it mildly, and that you would not be enjoying your Israeli citizenship for very long – or, if you were foolish enough to tell them of your intentions in advance – at all.
Unfortunately, our government here in Canada, lacks both the sanity and the backbone of the Israeli government. This Monday, Dror Bar-Natan earned himself his five minutes of fame, by taking the Canadian citizenship oath, having announced in advance that he intended to renounce the oath of loyalty to the queen immediately after swearing it, which he did by handing Albert Wong, the citizenship judge who administered the oath, a letter containing his disavowal. Bar-Natan, who was born and raised in Israel, studied mathematics in the United States, and already has citizenship in both of these republics, has taught math at the University of Toronto since 2002. As Ezra Levant noted earlier this week, Mr. Bar-Natan obviously has no problem with taking Canadian money which bears the image of Her Majesty. You might recall that he was one of three would-be citizens who challenged the constitutionality of the loyalty oath in court a couple of years back. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled against the challenge last August and this February the Supreme Court announced that it would not hear an appeal of the Ontario Court’s ruling.
It has not been often, in the 33 years since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added to our constitution in 1982, that our courts have upheld longstanding Canadian traditions, customs and ways of doing things when challenged. They have generally only given conservative rulings when the traditions and customs in question are enshrined in the constitution, as is the case here and in its ruling regarding the Senate last year. One of the nastiest things about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is that it is written in such a way as to turn an otherwise conservative court into an instrument of radical and revolutionary change if the tradition or custom targeted for change is not explicitly included in the constitution. In this case, because our constitution is that of a parliamentary monarchy, it is obviously in keeping with our constitution for the oath of loyalty to be sworn to Queen Elizabeth II, our head of state, in whose name all the branches of government, such as the elected legislature in Parliament and the courts, conduct their daily affairs.
Unfortunately, the court’s ruling was worded in such a way as to encourage the action Mr. Bar-Natan has taken. Part of his challenge of the constitutionality of the oath was that he thought it would violate his freedom of expression as a republican, who does not believe in royalty, and thinks it a relic of a bygone age. The court ruled that it would not violate his freedom of expression because he was free to disavow the oath after having sworn it. What the judges presumably were thinking was that we do not require Canadians to subscribe to a creed of political orthodoxy and excommunicate them if they commit heresy. This is a very questionable notion in post-1982 Canada for from that year onward the powers that be have not been kind to Canadians who dissent from the ideological positions that Pierre Trudeau decided were “Canadian values” and encoded in the Charter, no matter how true those Canadians may be to everything that was recognizably Canadian prior to 1963. Even if we were to grant, however, for the sake of argument, that the assumption is valid, it was still foolish and reckless for the court to say what it did for it was an invitation for people like Mr. Bar-Natan to commit perjury which is what the deliberately insincere swearing of an oath amounts to, a rather dubious foundation for good citizenship.
It would have been far better had the judges just said that if you don’t want to pledge your loyalty to the queen then you have business seeking to become a citizen of a Commonwealth parliamentary monarchy like Canada. Someone who comes here wanting Canada without the monarchy is like the person who moves to Israel wanting Israel without the Jewishness. The monarchy is more than just a symbol, it is the true foundation of Canadian national unity. When, in 1776, the Thirteen Colonies revolted against the British government in London and set out on the path that would end in the construction of the American republic, the French colony of Canada, ceded to the British Crown at the end of the Seven Years War in the previous decade, remained loyal to its new Sovereign. The Crown, just prior to the American Revolution, had given them a guarantee of their language, religion, and culture. After the American Revolution, those who had not gone along with the revolutionaries but remained loyal to the Crown, were persecuted by the new republican government and these, the United Empire Loyalists, moved north to Canada and to other colonies that had remained true to the Crown. The French Canadians and the United Empire Loyalists had different reasons for remaining loyal to the Crown but that loyalty united them and enabled them a century later, to build the Dominion of Canada out of British North America. Attempts by the Liberal Party, under the leadership of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, to shift Canadian national unity onto a different foundation of tolerance, diversity, multiculturalism, humanitarianism, and the like, failed miserably and almost tore the country apart in their utter divisiveness.
The problem with the judges is that they, like so many others in post-1982 Canada, are blindly committed to inclusiveness, one of those new “Canadian values” of Pierre Trudeau’s. Even in the act of rightly upholding our constitution and the oath of loyalty to our monarch, they were unwilling to say to a prospective new citizen who disagrees with our traditional monarchy “if you don’t like the way we do things here, you are not welcome, and you are free to go back to one of the two countries in which you already have citizenship, which have the republican form of government you desire.” Instead, they went out of their way to accommodate him and threw him a loophole, even though it meant inviting him to commit perjury, an invitation he has now taken them up on.
They should have shipped him back to Israel. That is, of course, assuming that Israel, with her own share of troublemakers to contend with, would be willing to take him back.
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