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Konrad Yakabuski (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Konrad Yakabuski

(Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

KONRAD YAKABUSKI

Why Canadian citizenship is a scourge for Ted Cruz Add to ...

Ted Cruz, the Calgary-born Texas senator, insists he has “nothing against Canada.” That’s about as astonishing as the flame-throwing Republican’s claim that he only recently discovered that he is as Canadian as butter tarts. How could a Harvard Law School graduate, considered one of the best lawyers of his generation, be so clueless about his own citizenship status?

“The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship,” the 42-year-old first-term Republican senator said after he was outed this week as a full-fledged Canuck. “Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship.”

It’s not like the nakedly ambitious Mr. Cruz, who is already laying the groundwork for a long-shot bid at the 2016 GOP nomination, shouldn’t have seen it coming. After all the bile the “birthers” spewed about Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency, it would be pure hypocrisy for them not to subject Mr. Cruz to equal scrutiny – even if he isn’t black or Democratic.

U.S. courts have never had to decide the matter. But legal experts seem to agree that Mr. Cruz qualifies as a “natural-born” American – a constitutional requirement to be president – by virtue of his mother’s U.S. citizenship. Because he was born on Canadian soil, Mr. Cruz is automatically a Canadian citizen, too.

Not that he’s proud of it.

A year ago, at the party’s convention in Tampa, I chased after Mr. Cruz naively hoping for an anecdote about his roots in Calgary, where he spent his first four years while his parents ran a seismic data business catering to the oil patch. Asked about his dual citizenship, he responded with an icy stare worthy of Hannibal Lecter.

“Houston has been my home and where I grew up,” he relented, unable to escape the narrow security perimeter in which we were impounded outside the convention centre. “Texas is my home.”

Back then, Mr. Cruz was the Tea Party’s newest idol. He had just knocked off the establishment candidate in the GOP Senate primary in Texas. A former state solicitor general, ranked as one of the best litigators in the country, Mr. Cruz would go on to a landslide win in the November election.

Some people still head to Washington to solve problems. Mr. Cruz went to blow the place up. When you consider government a force of evil, you don’t want it to work. So, Mr. Cruz has spent his first months in the U.S. capital as a thorn not only in the side of Democrats – his grandstanding and obstructionism drive fellow Republicans up the wall, too.

He is now on a “Cruzade” to block funding for Mr. Obama’s signature health-care law. If that means shutting down the federal government (by preventing the passage of an essential budget bill), so be it. Mr. Cruz considers Obamacare, the law aimed at subsidizing health insurance for 32 million Americans without it, “the greatest threat to our liberty we have ever seen.”

Most Republicans think allowing a government shutdown would be suicidal for their party. The last time it happened, when then-speaker Newt Gingrich blocked Bill Clinton’s budget in 1995, voters blamed the GOP for the fallout. But Mr. Cruz is even more bombastic and selfish than Newt. He appears less interested in his party’s fortunes than boosting his own profile – and future earning power as a Fox News celebrity.

Despite his rock-star status among social conservatives, Mr. Cruz has no better chance of winning the 2016 nomination than Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum did the last time around. But that won’t stop the punditocracy from pretending he is a contender. The permanent U.S. election campaign rolls onward.

Mr. Cruz, who is stuck with being a Canadian until a citizenship judge here removes the scourge, says he has nothing against the land of his birth. But what about our universal health care, marriage equality, respect for a woman’s right to choose and restrictions on buying a gun?

Mr. Cruz thinks Obamacare is aimed at getting Americans “addicted to the sugar” of subsidized health care. He torpedoed a bill to implement universal background checks for gun purchasers. He accused abortion rights advocates of trying to “protect the ability to take yet more lives.” And his father warmed up the evangelical crowd at an Iowa conference by calling “homosexual marriage” a socialist plot.

Finding out he is one of us must have knocked Mr. Cruz’s socks off.

 

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