Permanent Resident Voting: A Movement on the Rise – But does it make sense?

I am not a fan of allowing Permanent Residents to vote although I understand the rationale of supporters.

We have enough problems encouraging citizens to vote and it remains to be seen whether Permanent Residents would have significantly greater interest in voting.

More significantly, there are relatively few differences between citizens and Permanent Residents in terms of rights, social programs and other benefits (and responsibilities) and to a certain extent, if Permanent Residents can vote, this may reduce the incentive to become citizens.

Of course, in the context of the new citizenship act making citizenship harder to acquire, this may increase pressure to allow municipal voting. The old argument about Canadian citizenship being relatively easy to acquire in a relatively short period of time applies less and less:

Finally, we must connect with and support groups who are currently engaging other critical advocacy for newcomers. Earlier this year, the city of Hamilton proclaimed itself a sanctuary city – in other words, the city committed to ensure that every resident, regardless of immigration status, has access to city services. It is no coincidence that a similar proclamation in Toronto preceded the successful motion on permanent resident voting. City Vote must situate itself within the broader movement to ensure newcomers have equal rights and opportunities in Canada.

Thankfully, the campaign has a history of strong partnerships within this larger newcomer-serving community. Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, a multi-service community hub in central Toronto, incubated the campaign in 2008 and helped it grow. Maytree has been supporting policy development and hosting forums on the issue since 2007. Groups as large as the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and as small as warden Woods Community Centre have offered their time, energy and support. The foundation for growth is solid and diverse.

Permanent Resident Voting: A Movement on the Rise.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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