Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's main political rival in elections this month holds dual Canadian-US citizenship, but a spokesman for Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer said on Thursday that he recently embarked on the process of renouncing his American citizenship.
Scheer and the Conservative party have criticized previous party leaders for holding dual citizenship in the past. Scheer said he visited the US Embassy in Ottawa just before the election began in August to say he was renouncing his citizenship and is currently awaiting confirmation from the embassy after filing paperwork.
Conservative party spokesman Cory Hann said Scheer and his sisters received US passports as children but Scheer has not renewed his as an adult. Scheer's said his father was born in the US and immigrated to Canada.
“It was always my intention to do it,” he said. Scheer said he has filed US tax returns.
The Globe and Mail first reported the news of his dual citizenship. “Over a million Canadians hold dual citizenship - it's part of what makes Canada great. But none have hidden that fact when running to be Prime Minister,” Liberal party spokeswoman Zita Astravas said in a statement.
Andrew Scheer has been fundamentally dishonest with Canadians about who he is. In 2005, Scheer criticized Canada's then-governor general, Michaelle Jean, for having dual Canadian-French citizenship.
"He was hypocritical in his attack on Michaelle Jean and it is good that it is now exposed," said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. But Wiseman said he didn't think Scheer's dual citizenship will have much effect on public opinion, noting many Canadians have dual citizenship.
Scheer also said Thursday that he opposes abortion but would not reopen debate on Canada's law allowing abortions. He had dodged the question after being grilled by Trudeau at a debate Wednesday night ahead of the October 21 parliamentary elections.
Scheer has also been criticized for saying on his resume that he previously worked as an insurance broker. He was not. Scheer has since said he received his accreditation and worked in an insurance office for six or seven months before leaving prior to completing the licensing process.
He has also been questioned about whether he got his university degree in Saskatchewan or Ottawa. “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,” Astravas said.
The 40-year-old Scheer is a career politician who was elected to Parliament when he was 25. “Stretched and padded CVs is what you get from life-long politicos that want to hide that they've been life-long politicos,” Wiseman said.