Saturday, June 27, 2009

Erna Solberg (Member of Parliament) Høyre - Leader of the Conservative Party of Norway

1) Vil ha fest for nye landsmenn (VG Story) 22 April 2004
In this article published in VG on immigration in Norway, Norwegian Conservative Leader politician Erna Solberg was quoted as saying that in Canada new Canadian citizens, and in the USA new American citizens and pledge allegiance to the constitution of their new country: "I USA og Canada må nye statsborgere løfte høyre hånd og avlegge en troskapsed til konstitusjonen i sitt nye hjemland." Erna Solberg is wrong about Canada. This is not correct for Canada and new Canadian citizens. In the USA new American citizens do this, but in Canada (not part of the USA - the northern neighbouring country above the USA) new Canadian citizens don't pledge allegiance to the Canadian Constitution. This story and her comments are another an excellent example of how so many Norwegian journalists, and in this case a Norwegian politician just assume or guess about Canada and Canadians, and often apply the USA's experiences and traditions to Canada and Canadians. In Canada, being a separate country, with a separate history, new Canadian citizens do not pledge allegiance to Canada's constitution. New Canadian citizens pledge allegiance to Canada's Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada. Pledging an allegiance to a constitution is not part of the Canadian experience or way of life, despite what Solberg states in her story. In Solberg's comments she has just informed every Norwegian reader of the VG story that this American tradition is also the same from the country of Canada. Here are the details to becoming a Canadian Citizen in both of Canada's official languages - French and English. The oath is taken in French or English depending on if you're a French speaking Canadian, or an English speaking Canadian:

"Canadian Citizenship Ceremony: A citizenship ceremony is the final step in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen. It occurs after the individual passes either a written test or an oral hearing. There is a legal requirement for the individual to attend the ceremony and take the Oath of Citizenship. The ceremony is conducted in French or in English. During the ceremony, the new citizen receives a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship. Guests attending the ceremony, who are Canadian citizens, may be invited to reaffirm their commitment to Canada by repeating the oath along with the new citizens. THE OATH OF CITIZENSHIP: 'From this day forward, I pledge my loyalty and allegiance to Canada and Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada. I promise to respect our country's rights and freedoms, to defend our democratic values, to faithfully observe our laws and fulfil my duties and obligations as a Canadian citizen.' [In French ]Je jure (ou j’affirme solennellement) que je serai fidèle et porterai sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux, Reine du Canada, à ses héritiers et successeurs, que j'observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada et que je remplirai loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien.] After the oath, the clerk calls out the name of each new citizen to get his/her certificate from the judge. There are closing remarks and then the singing of the anthem. Congratulations! You've become a Canadian Citizen."
After sending Erna Solberg an e-mail informing her of her mistake, she commented that she in fact did "see there was a difference." Of course there is a difference; Canada and the United States of America are two different, separate, independent and sovereign countries in North America. But despite the fact she knows there is a difference, she publicly states that Canada follows a tradition that does not happen in Canada. It must be easier for Norwegians to assume or guess that Canada's traditions are the same traditions as the USA's; much like how Norwegians often complain how the world sees them as some part of Sweden. Canada and the USA are neighbours, they are not part of each other. Erna Solberg mentioned that she had in fact "been to a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony" and "witnessed" it in person. It is hard to believe that someone who has actually been to a Canadian Citizenship ceremony would say Canadians follow the same traditions of a foreign country like the USA. If she was at a Canadian citizenship ceremony she would not has heard or seen any pledge to the Canadian constitution take place. No Canadian would expect the average Norwegian to know about Canada's citizenship ceremony and becoming a Canadian, but a Member of Parliament, a leader of a political party, and someone that has actually been to a Canadian citizenship ceremony in person you would think knows there's a difference and wouldn't apply a foreign country's tradition to Canada. Even after Solberg admitted there is a difference, no correction to the mistake in Erna Solberg's comments have ever been made to the VG story, or an apology issued. It's no wonder Norwegians so often think life in Canada the same as in the USA when comments like this are made, and assumptions and guessing about Canada, Canadians, and Canadian culture by so many in the Norwegian media only help perpetuate this type of ignorance. It's obvious Erna Solberg knows what is the USA's citizenship ceremony, but it seems she doesn't know Canada's citizenship ceremony to comment on it correctly. No correction to the story has been made.

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