Santa can call Canada ho-ho-home
Luke Simcoe, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Published: Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Hands off, Russia. Not today, Norway. There's a reason he dresses in red and white: Santa is one of ours.
Less than three weeks after the Canadian government proposed legislation to expand the country's sovereignty over Arctic waters, its citizenship minister is shoring up Canada's claim to the Far North by declaring Santa Claus, a longtime resident of the North Pole, to be a Canadian citizen.
"The Government of Canada wishes Santa the very best in his Christmas Eve duties and wants to let him know that, as a Canadian citizen, he has the automatic right to re-enter Canada once his trip around the world is complete," said Jason Kenney, the minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, in an official statement.
It is unclear whether Santa has always been considered Canadian based on his place of residence, or if the country has extended him citizenship as a courtesy.
"I'll let Foreign Affairs field that particular question," said Andrew House, a spokesman for Kenney.
Sadly, Foreign Affairs representatives were reluctant to let the toy out of the bag, so to speak.
Alain Cacchione, a Foreign Affairs spokesman who handles Arctic issues, declined to comment on the matter, saying only that St. Nick is "an international symbol."
Although international law states no country has dominion over the geographic North Pole, a number of nations - including Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway and Denmark - have recently begun pressing their claims to the area long said to be the location of Santa Claus's base of operations.
Tensions have been particularly high between Canada and Russia. In 2007, former foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay lashed out at the Russians after they planted a flag at the bottom of the Beaufort Sea, a region rich in petroleum and natural gas deposits.
In Russia, the patron saint of Christmas is known as Ded Moroz, which translates as ‘Father Frost.' Moroz dresses in garb very similar to Santa Claus and is said to reside in the Russian town of Veliky Ustyug.
Officials from the Kremlin have yet to respond to Kenney's statement.
Should they choose to dispute Santa Claus's citizenship, they would have to overcome a substantial amount of evidence that points to him being Canadian.
For starters, it's worth pointing out the marked resemblance between his patented red and white outfit and our nation's flag.
North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa Claus's trip via satellite for more than 50 years and consistently shows Santa's flight beginning somewhere in the Canadian Arctic.
As well, Canada Post has long been charged with the task of forwarding children's letters to Santa to the jolly fat man's famous H0H 0H0 postal code.
Malcolm French, a spokesman for Canada Post, said the company receives letters to Santa from all over the world in languages ranging from Albanian to Vietnamese.
"Postal code readers all over the world recognize the H0H 0H0 postal code as belonging to Canada," French said.
The global perception that Santa Claus does in fact reside in Canada seems to be growing. In 2007, Canada Post helped deliver more than 1.2 million letters to Santa - a 14 per cent increase over the year before.
Technically, Santa's postal code would indicate that he lives somewhere in urban Montreal, a region marked by the H prefix in its postal codes.
However, given Santa's ability to squeeze down chimneys and circumnavigate the Earth in a matter of hours, it's not surprising that Canada Post made an exception for old St. Nick.
Calls made Friday to Revenue Canada to determine if Santa was indeed a registered taxpayer in Canada were not returned.
© Canwest News Service 2008