Am I an "old-stock" Canadian?

Dear Mr. Harper,

Sassan Sanei
During the leaders' debate, you made a reference to three kinds of Canadians: new, existing, and “old-stock.”

I am a Canadian citizen, but I was born in Iran. My family came to Canada when I was 4 years old, but my children were born here. I am not Muslim, but I am not Christian either. I speak English and French, but I have also studied Persian, Latin, Spanish, and Italian. My parents started their careers in Iran, but they built businesses and paid taxes in Canada for most of their lives. My entire family lives in Canada. Tell me, Prime Minister, when do I become old-stock?

My grandfather's brother, a proud Canadian born in Iran, was a lieutenant-general in the Iranian army, but he also led Canadian soldiers in Vietnam as a commander of UN peacekeeping forces. After the Islamic regime took over Iran in 1979, he escaped the ayatollahs and moved to Canada, where he built a small business and paid Canadian taxes for decades. He was recently hospitalized in Toronto at the age of 95, but he neither asked for nor received any special treatment. Does that make him old-stock, or simply old?

Growing up and going to school in Canada, I benefited from our society’s investment in education. In return, I have helped develop new technology in Canada, invested in Canadian companies, created employment in Canada, supported Canadian artists, represented Canadian business interests domestically and internationally, and paid millions of dollars in Canadian taxes. In your view, have I contributed enough to Canadian society to buy a lifetime membership in the old-stock club?

I was an early investor in Research In Motion, a Canadian company that invented the BlackBerry and enjoyed a period of considerable success. I kept a copy of an old stock certificate as a memento. Does this old stock certificate make me certified old-stock?

My children were born in Canada, of Persian and British ancestry. They have an English first and last name, but an Iranian middle name. Their great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was from northern England, but rumour has it he was a stowaway on a pirate ship who jumped overboard off the coast of Nova Scotia and swam ashore more than 200 years ago. However, Canada did not exist as a nation before 1867. Does this make my children old-stock, new-stock, or half-stock?

My girlfriend is a Canadian citizen, but she was born in a Mediterranean country and moved to Canada as a baby. She has studied French, Greek, Spanish, Hindi, and German, but she also speaks and writes perfect English. She has spent her entire life working in Canada, studying in Canada, teaching in Canada, and paying Canadian taxes. She has fair skin, blue eyes, and no accent, but she doesn’t like hockey. Is she Canadian enough to be old-stock?

One final question, Prime Minister. My neighbour is 5 years younger than me, but was born in Canada. I have lived in Canada longer than he has been alive. Which one of us is more “old-stock”?


Sassan Sanei


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