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French News Made Headlines Across the Atlantic (Sadly…)

Chess Game, Ottawa, Spring 2011

I’m a bit disconnected from French news. I used to watch TV5—a French-language global television channel—when I came to Canada, but shows I enjoyed were often early in the morning or right in the middle of the afternoon. I used to stream French documentaries but most legit French websites now block foreign IPs for “legal reasons” (idiot!). I used to read La Presse, Canada’s French-language newspaper, but it mostly focuses on Québec and Montréal news. So I’m left with Paris Match magazines I read at Chapters whenever I get the chance—I hit rock bottom, Paris Match is a right-wing trashy mag.

But recently, a few stories made headlines in France first, then abroad. Like the Dupont de Ligonnès family murders in Nantes, my hometown—the father is still on the run and very much wanted by the police, by the way.

Then, I learned that French politicians have it in for expats. Two right-wing French MPs questioned dual citizenship, currently allowed in France (i.e. you can be both a French and Canadian national, for instance). Claude Goasguen noted in an interview that “it was pretty disturbing that a person can vote in France and in another country.” As part of an immigration law project, several right-wing MPs also want anyone who applies for French citizenship to give up their other citizenship. Thierry Mariani, the Secretary of State for transport, supports the creation of a French dual citizen database, “in case of war with another country.” Finally, Jérôme Cahuzac from the Socialist Party “simply suggested” that French nationals abroad should pay taxes in France, saying: “For those who left France, it would be a reminder to pay back France, the country where they were raised, educated and benefited from the healthcare system.”

So let me get that straight. As a dual citizen, French by birth and Canadian by choice, I shouldn’t have the right to vote in both countries, I should support France unconditionally during wartime and I should be on some shady database?

And I’m all for paying taxes—I’m Socialist. I was raised and educated in France, where my parents are paying taxes. Since I left the country and I’m no longer a resident, I’m no longer eligible for free or subsidized healthcare, which is perfectly normal. So why on earth should I pay taxes in France? We don’t even get basic consular services in Ottawa—Ontario residents have to deal with the French consulate in Toronto, where you have to show up in person during “regular business hours.”

I don’t want to be a political pawn. I fulfilled my obligations towards France, including completing my national service. I’m done, thank you very much, now leave me alone.

Talking about political pawns… you must all have heard about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Oopsy doopsy, here is France shining again on the international stage! DSK (his nickname in France) got himself into a bit of a jam. He was arrested in New York for an alleged sexual assault and attempted rape. The scene took place in DSK’s hotel room where, according to the housekeeper, he emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom. She alleged that she was forced to perform oral sex, but eventually fought him off and told hotel staff about the incident, who then called the police.

As much as I take these kinds of stories and women’s testimonies very seriously, I can’t help thinking it’s a huge setup. I mean, DSK is the president of the IMF and about to run for presidency in France—like him or not, he wasn’t born yesterday. And suddenly he loses all control risking losing everything? Critics say he is a womanizer and I can very well believe he can be pretty thick with women but rape? Seriously?

French media unanimously condemned the now-famous picture of DSK handcuffed and surrounded by the police and the way the American justice system handled the case. Ah, good luck with that one. Just because you’re famous in France doesn’t mean you get to abuse women abroad…


French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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