Friday October 4, 2019
Spokesperson says Scheer is in the process of renouncing his American citizenship
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pauses for a moment as he gives his morning address at a volunteer fire department in Upper Kingsclear, N.B. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.
The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that Scheer's father is an American by birth and passed along the citizenship to Scheer and his siblings.
Daniel Schow, a spokesperson for the party, confirmed Thursday Scheer decided to renounce the citizenship after he became Conservative leader.
Schow said Scheer started the process of renouncing his citizenship in August, before the federal election campaign started, and the paperwork is now being processed by the U.S. government.
"Like millions of Canadians, one of Mr. Scheer's parents was born in another country and immigrated to Canada to start a family. He and his sisters received United States passports as children and Mr. Scheer has not renewed his as an adult. He has not voted in any United States election," Schow said in a statement.
The current wait time to renounce U.S. citizenship is roughly nine to 10 months for applications filed at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.
When asked Thursday why he has not previously disclosed his U.S. ancestry, Scheer said nobody ever asked him.
"I've never tried to hide that," he said in a scrum with reporters in Halifax. "I've never been asked about it by Canadians. My father has always been open about where he comes from. I haven't been asked about it."
Asked about why he's motivated to renounce his citizenship now on the eve of an election, Scheer said it's a personal decision. "I was born in Canada ... I grew up my whole life in Canada," he said.
As required by U.S. tax law, Scheer said he has reported his income and filed returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The leader has faced questions about his past in recent days after it was confirmed Scheer was never actually licensed to sell insurance, even though his party biography cited his past work experience as an "insurance broker."
Scheer has said since he was accredited but never licensed to sell insurance at the Regina firm he worked at for six months before he was elected to Parliament at the age of 25 in 2004. Scheer's private sector experience includes this short stint in the insurance world and waiting tables at restaurants while in university.
Scheer raised questions about Jean's citizenship
Scheer raised concerns about former governor general Michaëlle Jean holding both Canadian and French passports in a 2005 blog post.
"I have a few quick questions for anyone who thinks that Michaëlle Jean is a good choice to be our next GG," Scheer wrote. "What are her qualifications? What experience does she have that would assist her to carry out her duties as our head of state, including the potential to be a referee in a minority government situation?"
He also asked his constituents if they felt it was appropriate for Jean to maintain her French passport. "Would it bother you if instead of French citizenship, she held U.S. citizenship?" Scheer asked.
Speaking Thursday, Scheer said he wasn't attacking Jean, but rather he was just asking questions of his constituents.
"I was born in Canada...I grew up my whole life in Canada,” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer told reporters asking about his Canada-U.S. dual citizenship. He was also asked about a blog where he raised questions about Michaëlle Jean’s dual citizenship years ago.
Jean renounced her French citizenship before she was sworn in as governor general and commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces in 2005.
Liberal spokesperson Zita Astravas said Scheer has been "fundamentally dishonest with Canadians about who he is."
"Scheer's hidden his core personal positions, he hid facts about his career and education and now he's been caught hiding his American citizenship even while ridiculing others for holding dual citizenship ....
"How can Canadians trust him when he talks about what he'll do, including what he'll cut?"
Under the leadership of former prime minister Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party accused former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and former NDP leader Tom Mulcair of having divided loyalties as both men had dual Canadian and French citizenship while holding public office.
When asked about Mulcair's citizenship, Harper said in 2015 it was up to Mulcair to decide whether to keep the French passport or give it up. "In my case, as I say, I'm very clear. I'm a Canadian and only a Canadian," Harper said.
A past CBC News investigation found at least 56 parliamentarians from the 2015-19 Parliament, including 44 MPs and 12 senators, were born outside Canada. At least 22 of them have citizenship from other countries. Scheer's U.S. citizenship was not then widely known.