A Canadian woman has made political history in Europe by becoming the first elected member of France’s parliament to represent a sprawling new “overseas” constituency of some 600,000 French expatriates living in Britain, Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
Hailed by the British press as the new “MP for Paris-on-Thames,” Axelle Lemaire is a 37-year-old London lawyer and mother of two who was born in Hull, Que. — now part of the amalgamated city of Gatineau, directly across the Ottawa River from Canada’s own Parliament buildings.
The candidacy bid of Lemaire, a Socialist MP, received a major boost in February when party leader Francois Hollande — who was elected France’s president last month — attended a London rally in support of the dual French and Canadian citizen’s bid to secure the new “Northern Europe” seat in France’s Assemblee Nationale.
London, which has an estimated 300,000 of the U.K.’s 400,000 French citizens — many employed in the financial industry — has by far the largest concentration of foreign nationals in Lemaire’s far-flung, four-million-square-kilometre riding. The constituency also encompasses Ireland, Iceland and Greenland, and is believed to include well over a half-million citoyennes and citoyens in total.
Apparently there is a ‘North American’ seat as well (and also some nine other ones, representing French expats elsewhere in the world), which doesn’t sit well with the Canadian government:
This year’s parliamentary elections in France marked the first time that 11 new overseas seats around the world were up for grabs.
Voting in the 20-million-square-km North American constituency — which generated controversy when the Canadian government refused permission for France to place ballot boxes in public places — took place Saturday at the French embassy in Ottawa, as well as at various consular offices, private schools and other French-controlled properties across the country.
New York banker Corinne Narassiguin, the Socialist party candidate in the North American election, defeated UMP rival Frederic Lefebvre in the run-off ballot.
Canadian candidates Christophe Navel, an independent, and Stephanie Bowring, with the left-wing Radical Party, finished out of the running after the initial June 9 vote.
In January, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had “summoned” French ambassador Philippe Zeller to a meeting to voice Canada’s objections about this country’s inclusion in the new French electoral district.
“No authorization has been given to France to permit it to include Canada in an extraterritorial electoral district,” Baird’s press secretary, Joseph Lavoie, said at the time. “We summoned the ambassador to tell him of our disappointment with the French government’s decision to ignore this Canadian policy, aimed at upholding Canadian sovereignty and reducing foreign interference in Canadian domestic affairs.”
Last year, in a diplomatic “circular” sent to foreign ambassadors in Canada, the government stated that it “continues to encourage foreign states to allow citizens residing permanently or temporarily in Canada to exercise their right to vote in their country of origin’s elections or referenda, namely via absentee ballot.”
But the circular cautioned that, “as a matter of policy, the Government of Canada will continue to refuse requests by foreign states to include Canada in their respective extraterritorial electoral constituencies. Also, the department will not allow foreign governments to conduct election campaigns in Canada or establish foreign political parties and movements in Canada.”
I agree with the Canadian government’s stance. A decade ago, I myself did vote in a Canadian federal election when I lived and worked outside of Canada (in the U.S.) for a year, via an absentee ballot; I voted in my home riding. I find the idea of allowing expatriates to vote as a collectivity, utterly bizarre, and antithetical to the concept of national citizenship; why allow those who choose to live outside their country, special representation, rather than encouraging them to continue to identify with their home regions in their own country – or to perhaps make the new country their permanent home? Bizarre. Governments should be not be de facto encouraging citizens to leave their country and live elsewhere, which, in my opinion, is what giving them special, separate representation, is, in effect, doing. It’s one thing to accept that people may choose to live and work abroad for a season, or even a long term, without applying to become citizens of their new country of residence; it’s another to actively encourage it. And in that regard, it also seems unfair to the host country, to encourage people living there to not either eventually go home or join their new home. It has the effect of warping the meaning of national citizenship, making it rather nebulous – which I’m sure suits the globalists’ ‘One World’ agenda. (Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that a committed European Union member government, like France, encourages such. But it would be great if more countries that still believe in and uphold the concept of national sovereignty actively discouraged it, and fought the practice.)
I have read that the Mexican government actively campaigns for the vote of Mexican nationals living in America, which I also find bizarre, and if I were American, I would certainly find offensive. I don’t know whether they have special representation, or how the American government has reacted to this; perhaps my American friends can shed some light on this, if they know.
I also don’t like how American political parties like the Republicans and the Democrats have respective Republicans Abroad and Democrats Abroad organizations; but at least, to their credit, the GOP doesn’t seem to recognize the Republicans Abroad organization in any official capacity, whereas the Democrats allow their Democrats Abroad organization to have state-level recognition at the Democratic National Committee, and to send delegates to their Democratic National Conventions, and to vote as a constituency in Democratic Primaries. But I guess that’s not surprising, given that the Democrats today are a bit more ‘One World’-ish in their outlook than Republicans are. Dismaying, but not the least bit surprising, alas.
Naturally, Canada’s Liberals have an officially recognized Liberals Abroad organization – whose existence I also deplore. To their credit, the Tories (Conservatives) don’t appear to have any such thing, nor do the NDP, our socialists. If only all poltical parties, the world over, would follow their examples…
P.S. Regarding Mrs. Lemaire’s victory, isn’t it odd that a ‘riding’ consisting of many employed by the financial sector (i.e. the private sector) would end up going Socialist? Of course, it wasn’t just the French living in London or elsewhere in the U.K. who elected Mrs. Lemaire, but also ones living in Ireland, and the Scandinavian and Baltic states, too, so perhaps that’s how it happened. On the other hand, I note that the North American riding was also won by a Socialist candidate, Corinne Narassiguin, who apparently is a New York banker! What strange times we live in.
That raises another issue; given the Socialist victories in both the Northern Europe and North American ridings, is the French government’s giving expatriates collective seats in their Parliament, just an extreme case of ‘gerrymandering‘? Hmmm.