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Naomi Lakritz: Take the Canadian oath or go home

You must have known that Canada has strong ties to the Queen.If you don’t like the way things are done here, then why did you come to Canada? I really don’t get it.

You must have known that Canada has strong ties to the Queen.If you don’t like the way things are done here, then why did you come to Canada? I really don’t get it.

I’m referring to the case that was heard Friday before the Ontario Superior Court, in which three permanent residents of this country argued that the Canadian citizenship oath must not include any reference to the Queen.

Take the case of one of the applicants — Michael McAteer. He is 79. He came here almost half a century ago. His affidavit states that “Taking an oath of allegiance to a hereditary monarch who lives abroad would violate my conscience, be a betrayal of my republican heritage, and impede my activities in support of ending the monarchy in Canada.”

Mr. McAteer, why on Earth did you come to Canada then, and stay for half a century? You must have known that Canada has strong ties to the Queen. Or, if you came here and found out later about the words in the oath, why didn’t you move somewhere else, like the U.S.?

Just because you are antimonarchy and your family history is Irish republican does not mean the oath should be changed to suit you. Leave the history at home.

The universe does not revolve around you.

Then there’s McAteer’s fellow plaintiff, Dror Bar-Natan, 47, who came here 11 years ago, and who believes taking an oath to the Queen is “repulsive.” He says “having royalty is a bit much.” Did you not think of this before you chose Canada? Did you not notice anything ahead of time, or connect the dots when you saw references to such things as Court of Queen’s Bench? Move someplace where they don’t have royalty and you won’t feel so put upon.

Last, there is the third plaintiff, Simone Topey, a Jamaican who moved to Canada in 1978. She claims that as a Rastafarian, it would violate her beliefs to take an oath mentioning the Queen, because the Queen is the “head of Babylon.” Rastafarians believe Babylon is a “degenerate society of materialism, oppression and sensual pleasures.” Which raises the question: Why did Topey move to this degenerate, materialistic, oppressive and sensual Babylonic place called Canada if she holds it in such scorn?

Canada is the best country in the world in which to live, but if repeating a brief citizenship oath is so abhorrent to them, they can always choose not to live here. It is not like taking the oath means you have to do anything about, for or with the Queen. Take the oath, and you never have to think about the Queen again.

But you don’t have any right to come here, where swearing allegiance to the Queen is a tradition that dates back to Confederation times, and then suddenly declare that the citizenship oath must be changed because you don’t like it.

These three argue that the oath discriminates against them and breaches their constitutional rights on religious and conscientious grounds. I would argue that it is they who are discriminating — against Canada’s history, tradition and national identity by trying to expunge a huge chunk of it for purely selfish reasons.

They complain that because of their beliefs about the oath, they can’t vote or get a passport.

Here is the federal government’s succinct position on the matter: “The swearing of an oath to Canada’s head of state has been a constant regardless of other legislative changes that have been made over time in the process for becoming a naturalized Canadian.”

And, the government adds: “It is not constitutionally inconsistent that the applicants who find Canada’s foundational democratic political structure to be ‘repugnant,’ at least in parts, are not accorded the right to vote within that political system … the inability to enjoy the benefits of citizenship — to hold a Canadian passport and to vote — are amongst the costs reasonably borne by individuals whose personal beliefs run counter to Canada’s foundational heritage.”

This is Canada and the tradition of the monarchy is bound up with its history and identity. Love it or leave it. And if you don’t want to take the citizenship oath, then leave Canada. You won’t be missed.

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