It’s rather amusing. “Canadian Ted” is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. president — the first candidate to officially enter the presidential race. It’s his political foes that have dubbed Senator Cruz from Texas, “Canadian Ted,” since he was born in Calgary, Alberta. Because of his place of birth, Cruz’s opponents claim the senator is ineligible to become president of the Good Ol’ U.S. of A.
According to the U.S. Constitution, only a “natural born citizen” can be elected as president. In the fog of American partisan political warfare, this seemingly vague statement has often been used as fodder to tarnish the candidacy of opponents.
In the realm of amusement tainted with irony, Cruz’s father, Rafael, a pastor who was born in Cuba, said in 2012 that U.S. President Barack Obama should “get back to Kenya.” So-called “Birthers” claim Obama was not born in the U.S. — despite the fact he has irrefutable proof that he was born in Hawaii — since his father was Kenyan. It’s a tenuous assertion, as Obama was not born in the African continent but on American soil. But in the U.S., truth doesn’t matter when it comes to partisan politics.
A Republican voter at a town hall meeting in Texas in 2013, who still believed that Obama was born in Kenya, fully demonstrated the nature of American partisan politics, when the Cruz supporter said, “As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil.”
Donald Trump, the real estate mogul who is the most prominent “birther” to question Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, is projected to make his own run for the Republican nomination for the presidential race in 2016. With this in mind, he also claims that Cruz may not be eligible to run.
“It’s a hurdle,” said Trump on Fox News, “somebody could certainly look at it very seriously.”
Even Senator John McCain’s candidacy for U.S. president in 2008 was called into question, since his was born in Panama in the U.S. Canal Zone.
Cruz’s mother was born in the U.S. and came to Canada with her Cuban-born husband in the 1960s, where the future U.S. senator was born in 1970. The lure for the Cruz family was an oil boom in Alberta, but when it went bust, they returned to the U.S.
“The Cruz clan were far from the first reverse carpetbaggers who had sought riches in the far north,” wrote Jeet Heer in a recent New Republic article. “For most of the last century, Alberta has been uniquely receptive to American migrants. The Canadian West, which required genetically modified wheat that could survive the cold, only opened up tomass settlement after the American frontier had closed, shifting migration northward.”
Heer went on to say a third of homestead applications in Alberta went to Americans in 1919, “who quickly outnumbered the more traditional British-born immigrants who populated most of Canada.”
It should be pointed out, of course, that mass migration to Western Canada began years earlier when Liberal Interior Minister Clifford Sifton attracted tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans to the plains who he called “peasants in sheepskin coats.”
But there’s no denying that the Cruzes were among the multitude of Americans that have been for various reasons attracted to Canada’s most American of provinces over the decades.
And Heer is quite correct in writing that: “American immigrants, many of them evangelical Christians, have been credited (or blamed) with infusing Alberta with the right-wing populism that distinguishes it from Canadian liberal norms.”
As examples of this political trait, Heer mentioned Great Depression-era Premier William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, who he termed a Bible-thumping Baptist with right-wing economic thinking. Aberhart founded the Social Credit movement in Alberta, which had some of the wackiest economic theories to ever find a home in Canadian politics. Replacing Social Credit in 1971 were the Progressive Conservatives, another right-of-centre party but with more conventional economic theories.
The intent of the New Republic writer was to emphasize how Alberta conservatism has an affinity with American conservatism and is a fitting birthplace for Cruz. “Calgary is a fair approximation of a Red State American city, a frigid Dallas,” wrote Heer. “If you can’t be born in conservative America, Calgary is about as close to second best as the world has to offer ...
“Not least, Calgary is the heartland of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s governing Conservative Party, which has many ideological affinities with Cruz’s conservatism, particularly on issues like the oil sands, greenhouse emissions, and foreign policy.”
Cruz is one of the American politicians who thinks building the Keystone XL is a “no-brainer.” Recently he said, “If you are a bearded, tattooed, Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, Greenpeace environmental activist, you should love the Keystone pipeline.”
Besides affinities with some of the politics north of the international border, Cruz’s association with Canada was first exposed by the Dallas Morning News in 2013, which ran an article to the effect that being born on Canadian soil also entailed Canadian citizenship.
Cruz had released his Alberta birth certificate to the newspaper, intending to demonstrate he had a U.S.-born mother, which meets the U.S. Constitution criteria that only a “natural born citizen” can become president. And most legal experts agree he fulfills the criteria.
“Congress has made equally clear from the framing of the Constitution to the current day that, subject to certain residency requirements on the parents, someone born to a U.S. citizen parent generally becomes a U.S. citizen without regard to whether the birth takes place in Canada, the Canal Zone (of Panama), or the continental United States,” wrote Paul Clement and Neal Katyal in the Harvard Law Review. It was a bi-partisan commentary by Clement, the solicitor general under Republican President George W. Bush, and Katyal, a former acting solicitor general under Democrat President Obama.
Cruz told CNN two years ago that he didn’t know he was a Canadian until the Dallas Morning News story was published. In fact, at the time, he had dual citizenship, whether he knew it or not, which was the point behind the newspaper article.
“When I was a kid, my mom told me that if I ever wanted to, I could affirmatively choose to claim Canadian citizenship, but I got a U.S. passport when I was in high school, I never did anything to affirmatively claim citizenship, so I thought that was the end of the matter.”
In an attempt to halt his critics, Cruz formally gave up his Canadian citizenship in May 2014. But that hasn’t stopped those who still want to label him, to his detriment, as “Canadian Ted.”
Meanwhile, north of the U.S.-Canada border, the nonsensical utterances about who is eligible or not, promises to add some levity to the race for president.