My status in this country was for some years a matter of some controversy and curiosity. These disagreeable memories made the arrival of my Canadian passport by special delivery at my home this week a particularly welcome event.
As I was born in Montreal, and was a Canadian resident for 44 years and a citizen for 57 years, and only ceased to be a citizen in extraordinary circumstances and temporarily, this is a very personally gratifying event.
In 1999, the leader of the Opposition in Britain, William Hague, invited me to become a Conservative member of the House of Lords, an honour accorded to most proprietors of large British national newspapers. (Rupert Murdoch declined, as he was only briefly a British resident.)
I was, at this point, a Canadian citizen but had been a British resident for 11 years. Prime Minister Tony Blair, with whom I was friendly though a political opponent, asked the British high commissioner in Ottawa to ascertain if this was an agreeable appointment to the Government of Canada.
This was entirely a courtesy, as the British accept citizens of Commonwealth countries as members of the House of Lords without the requirement of British citizenship. The Canadian chief of protocol replied to the British high commissioner that if I became a dual citizen and did not use my title when in Canada, the Canadian government would have no objection.
Blair graciously sent his driver to my home (in London) with an application for British citizenship and told me to put him and the home secretary, Jack Straw, as my British sponsors and sign it and return it to the driver. He welcomed me as a British citizen by telephone an hour later.