Douglas Todd: China drops hammer on Hong Kong residents holding Canadian passports

Given that, according to an Asia Pacific Foundation poll that a majority of Canadian citizens resident in Hong Kong had only lived in Canada for 4 to 5 years (“Canadians of convenience” to use the previous government’s phrase), will be interesting to see how many return and when:

The leaders of Hong Kong are pressuring about 350,000 residents who hold Canadian passports to make an ultimate decision about their citizenship.

Under the thumb of Mainland China — which does not allow dual citizenship — the territorial government is squeezing people who have been living and working for decades in the financial hub while holding passports from other nations, most commonly Canada.

John Baird, Nigel Wright head up new group to organize right-leaning Canadians abroad

Of note. Canadian political parties to date have been inactive compared to the parties of other countries where expatriate voting rights have been longstanding such as the US and UK:

A new group headed by some prominent Conservatives aims to mobilize right-leaning Canadians living overseas — and marks a changed attitude toward longtime expat voters after the Supreme Court of Canada significantly expanded their voting rights.

“It’s one of the last truly untapped areas of the electorate,” John Baird, former Conservative cabinet minister, told the National Post. Baird is the honorary president for the new group, called Canadian Conservatives Abroad (CCA).

Baird said expats “overwhelmingly” don’t vote in elections, and noted the estimated three million Canadians living abroad is equivalent to about 30 electoral ridings. About 20,000 expat voters were registered ahead of the 2019 election.

The push to form the group is in part motivated by a 2019 Supreme Court decision that ruled it was unconstitutional to bar Canadian citizens from voting if they’ve lived outside Canada longer than five years. That prohibition had been in place since 1993 (though sometimes enforced loosely), but the Liberal government lifted it with Bill C-76 in 2018.

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Conservatives fought against allowing longtime expats to vote and cracked down on the practice, alleging people were using loopholes to get around the five-year rule. Embracing the expat vote is somewhat of an about-face, but it’s also a recognition that the prohibition isn’t coming back and the Conservatives are missing an opportunity by not organizing among this population.

The CCA will be modelled after similar organizations for Americans (Republicans Overseas), Britons (Conservatives Abroad) and Australians (Australian Liberals Abroad). Democrats Abroad, which organizes overseas for the U.S. Democratic Party, is another well-known example.

Nigel Wright, a former chief of staff to Harper, will chair the CCA’s executive committee. The group is based in London and the leadership team includes Conservatives spread around the world, according to a news release.

The CCA will operate independently of political parties, but look for supporters of both federal and provincial conservative parties. “We’re starting with a solid base in the U.S., U.K., the Middle East and Asia,” Wright said in a statement.

Baird said he expects the CCA will be primarily focused on voter education, mobilization and assistance with administrative hurdles, but it will also organize virtual events and other forms of networking for overseas Conservatives. Another goal is to help drive Canadian policy discussions on global affairs from a right-wing perspective.

“We’re a group of volunteers that are just getting started, so we’ll see what form it takes,” Baird said. “It’s an exciting opportunity.”

The CCA’s first event will be a discussion on the establishment of a “CANZUK” alliance between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom that would aim to coordinate matters of migration, education, free trade and foreign policy between the countries. The event will be held to coincide with the upcoming Conservative policy convention in March.

Source: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/john-baird-nigel-wright-head-up-new-group-to-organize-right-leaning-canadians-abroad

How the language of migration put expats on a pedestal – and left immigrants in the dust

Good discussion on the changing meanings of immigrant, migrant and expat. The greater distinction, in my view, is between immigrant and migrant/expat, as the former means settling more or less permanently with a more formal pathway to citizenship, whereas migrant/expat is more temporary, with the distinction being more with respect to socioeconomic status:

Growing up in Hong Kong, I was constantly surrounded by people from around the world. From the UK to South Africa and Canada, I was exposed to a number of different cultures in my day-to-day life, especially in school. But it wasn’t until middle school, where acquaintances would casually use two distinct terms to define either affluent or poorer areas of the city, that I really began to take notice of the significance of the language of immigration.

Based on what I observed, it was clear that whenever someone referred to a person as an “expat”, they generally tended to be middle to upper-class native English speakers, working in professions such as banking, tech, education or creative roles. When it came to the word “immigrant”, the term tended to apply loosely to both blue-collar workers, and those desperate to flee their birth country in order to make “a better life” for themselves.

Around a month ago, while FaceTiming a friend who had just moved back to Singapore from London, the extent of those differences became even more pronounced. In the middle of our chat, he mentioned a print magazine called Expat Living, and how bizarre it was that among other publications, it was still considered a best-seller in the country despite the dying print media industry. It led me to think about the marketing power of the word “expat” – clearly a symbol of financial value in society. It placed them on a uniquely aspirational pedestal.

Expats are praised for daring to move to a new country, while immigrants feel pressured to get approval from citizens and assimilate for survival. Whether it’s a conscious or subconscious decision, there’s no denying that these terms represent the double standards in society’s view on immigration. It’s not so different here in London, where even after seven years of living here, I’m still confronted by the same forms of hypocrisy, especially in the language the media uses in stories about immigration. Prior to this pandemic, for example, a simple search for the terms “immigrant” would typically pull up more divisive and sensationalist headlines.

In popular media, the word “immigrant” often showcases individual storylines of struggle, hard work and overcoming hardships. On Instagram, a search for accounts and posts hashtagged with “immigrant” reveal feeds of documentary-style visuals and text about sacrifice and injustice. Clearly, there’s a heavy sense of activism connected to the immigrant experience in the media, in contrast to the image of luxury and privilege that is seen to come with being an expat.

Why? When it comes to the way people treat both groups, the narratives the words we use to describe create an unconscious bias. There’s a general feeling that immigrants are associated with negative qualities about their birthplace, whereas expats are commended for living in a country outside of their own. The meanings we’ve ascribed to these words have a lot to do with connotations about certain races and class systems.

Look at the etymology of the word​ “expat” (the short form of “Expatriate”), for example. It derives from the Latin terms “ex” (out of) and “patria” (fatherland). By definition, an expat is just someone who moves to live in a country they weren’t born in. Interestingly, the term was most commonly used in the 20th century to describe British servants who were often sent to work abroad against their will. According to Sophie Cranston, a lecturer in human geography at Loughborough University​, who spoke to The Atlantic about the changing meaning of terms like expat, it was only in the early 90s, that it came to mean what it does now: a descriptor for (typically wealthy) westerners living abroad.

With immigration being brought up more on social and mainstream media, it’s also important to note that these terms are being reclaimed. The term “migrant”, which is sometimes used in place of “immigrant” and often bears the same connotations (although the definitions vary from place to place), seems to have been reclaimed.

In 2015-16, immigration became the hottest political topic in the UK due to the European migrant crisis and Brexit. The Leave campaign heavily focused on villainising immigrants in the media, using anti-migrant propaganda and anti-migrant sentiments to create fear towards them, which subsequently led to their unfortunate victory.

The negativity has since inspired a rise of people from immigrant backgrounds to create movements reclaiming and redefining the meaning of being an immigrant. Groups like Migrants in Culture and Migration Collective are both optimistic examples of how immigrants have used the power of art, statistics, and culture to express different realities and examine issues regarding immigration in the UK.

Migrant Journal, a monthly print and digital magazine with a social media platform that focuses on the experiences of people, goods, and information around the world and the positive impact they have on various spaces, has also embraced the word “migrant”. The design of their issues are illustrative, with cerebral stories and minimal details that bring a smart and thoughtful impression to “migrant” labels. They’ve shown that beyond the stories of people, other things such as objects, spaces and fine art can express the immigrant experience in media in a highbrow manner.

Contrastingly, there’s a rise in using social media to poke fun at “expat” realities and stereotypes. For instance, the popular meme Instagram account @hkmehmeh was founded by a Korean woman who identifies as an expat living in Hong Kong. Her account uses popular internet culture with a mix of Cantonese slang and relatable “Hong Kong” sayings to create humorous memes that put a light-hearted spin on living in the city from an expat perspective. The account’s satirical integration of expatriate stereotypes and local culture makes it entertaining for all people who reside in the city – there’s no discrimination with her memes. As a Korean expat, her presence is inadvertently broadening the image of “expat” and diminishing the assumption that expats can only be white people.

While these labels once showed the double standards of the language of migration, they’re beginning to break away from strict definitions. By forging cultural visibility for terms like these, we create opportunities for more open conversations about questioning the need for labels, their effect on our unconscious bias and reclaiming these terms in a positive way.

Platforms that enable positive outlooks on reclaiming negative labels can unite people rather than split them apart. Hopefully, more of this kind of action will allow people to see that regardless of your identity, anyone who immigrates to another country shares more similarities than differences and that labels shouldn’t limit or define anyone in what they want to achieve.

Source: How the language of migration put expats on a pedestal – and left immigrants in the dust

Americans in Canada get ready to vote in U.S. primary — and those results carry more weight than you think

Will be interesting to see if Canadian parties, following the extension of voting rights to virtually all expatriates, develop comparable approaches to engage expatriates (didn’t see many signs in the 2019 election):

As Americans prepare to vote in the “Super Tuesday” Democratic presidential primaries Tuesday, a lot of attention will be paid to the two biggest states: California and Texas. But Americans living in Toronto and across Canada could have an even bigger impact, proportionally.

Alongside the 14 states and one territory holding their primary on Tuesday, it’s also the start of voting for the Democrats Abroad primary, in which U.S. citizens who live in other countries are able to vote in a separate primary that sends 13 pledged delegates to the nominating convention. That’s only one fewer electable delegates than some states such as North Dakota and Wyoming elect. And because fewer people vote in the international contest — an estimated 9 million American eligible voters live abroad, but less than 35,000 voters participated in 2016 — each vote carries far more weight.

According to a recent message sent out to members by Democrats Abroad Canada, that means the votes of Americans in Toronto has four times the impact of a vote in California.

One campaign trying to take advantage of this is Mike Bloomberg’s, which ran ads in Canadian newspapers — as well as in other countries around the world — this weekend.

“What we’re trying to do is just raise awareness of the campaign, because, you know, we’re really running two campaigns at the same time,” says John Calvelli, who serves double duty as the campaign director for New York State and Democrats Abroad. “One obviously, is to get Mike Bloomberg elected, but the other is to kind of engage the base and identify new people that we could get into the fold so that they would then vote against Donald Trump in November.”

Calvelli says it’s not something many other campaigns devote a lot of resources to. Though, of course, not many campaigns have the financial resources available to them that the billionaire former mayor of New York does. Calvelli says it’s a challenge because there are no lists of members available, so phone banks and door knocking, as in a traditional state primary, are not options. Hence the newspaper ads, alongside a campaign visit to Toronto recently by Bloomberg, and social media and word-of-mouth campaigns.

Calvelli says in 2016 Canadian residents had among the largest vote turnouts for the primary, with 3,260 people voting, just shy of 10 per cent of the total voters in what he calls the “51st state” primary.

Americans in the GTA can register with Democrats Abroad this week if they want to vote in the primary, and then have the option of voting online between Tuesday and March 10, or voting in person at one of two GTA locations. In-person voting will take place starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the East of Brunswick pub in downtown Toronto and at Failte Irish Pub in Mississauga.

Source: Americans in Canada get ready to vote in U.S. primary — and those results carry more weight than you think

Elections Canada expects 30,000 expat voters in this election, Perrault says

In other words, a 50 percent increase from 20,000 to 30,000, suggested that former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley was right that the vast majority of expats would not be interested in voting in Canadian elections (or about 3 percent of the estimated one million Canadian expatriate citizens 18 years or older):
Elections Canada says it is on track to see the number of expats it initially expected to register and to take advantage of new rules that allow Canadians living abroad to vote no matter how long they have been out of the country.

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With Canadians living abroad now able to vote no matter how long they have been outside the country, Canada’s chief electoral officer says Elections Canada expects 30,000 expats to register, but he is urging expats to register soon.

Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault said after a January 2019 Supreme Court ruling that expats now have the right to vote in federal elections no matter how long they have lived outside the country, the agency predicts about 30,000 voters to take advantage of the opportunity. With now just over a month until election day on Oct. 21, the agency has seen “just above 20,000 who have registered,” he told reporters on Tuesday at a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa.

Previously, non-resident citizens could not vote if they lived out of the country for more than five years.

“It’s hard to know exactly how many Canadians are living abroad—the estimate is between one to two million,” Mr. Perrault said. “At this point, it seems the numbers are what we thought.”

But Mr. Perrault urged those living away from home to register to vote sooner rather than later.

“If you look at the next week or 10 days, it’s pretty much the final stretch for most Canadians abroad to register because of the time it takes for them to return their ballots,” said Mr. Perrault.

As for election-readiness, Mr. Perrault said Elections Canada is expected to recruit 300,000 people to work the polls across the country and he encouraged Canadians who are at least 16 years of age to apply to work at polls.

“That is a very significant workforce,” he said. “I’d never say recruiting 300,000 people is not a challenge.”

This year, Mr. Perrault said, voting hours for advance polls will span four days and have extended hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14.

Mr. Perrault also said the agency is also reinforcing its efforts to reach younger and first-time voters, opening 121 offices at 109 post-secondary campuses spanning 86 electoral districts.

A 2015 pilot project saw 39 campuses host a similar service and more than 70,000 electors cast their votes.

Source: Elections Canada expects 30,000 expat voters in this election, Perrault says

Daphne Bramham: Conservatives go hunting for overseas votes

Predictable result of the change allowing voting to expatriates without restriction compared to the previous five-year limit.

To date, the number of registered expatriate voters according to the article is 20,000 compared to about 15,000 when the restriction was in place for the 2015 election.

Elections Canada does not provide a riding-level breakdown of expatriate registration and voter turnout, but has provided a list of registered voters by country (see after the article) so hard to assess which ridings will be most affected.

The Conservatives have been cultivating Canadian expatriates in Hong Kong for some time (not sure if the other parties have):

A few days before the federal election campaign got rolling in Canada, it was already underway for Conservatives in Hong Kong.

Former foreign affairs minister John Baird rallied the overseas troops at two events, while volunteers from Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong helped people register to receive their mail-in ballots.

Notice of last Thursday’s event at a sports bar in Central and one on Sunday in Tsim Sha Tsui was posted on the group’s Facebook page with instructions to bring passports if they wanted to get registered.

The Conservative Party of Canada’s official website also has a page for the group where its invitation to the first event remains prominently displayed.

But a party spokesman said none of it — the event, the fancy logo with the Conservative Party of Canada’s C circling a red junk that’s long been Hong Kong’s tourism symbol or even helping voters get ballots — is affiliated with the party.

But if it’s not party-sanctioned, then why is it on the Conservative Party of Canada’s official website?

“An unaffiliated group of Canadian volunteers living abroad asked if we could host a webpage for their event to help other Canadians living abroad register to vote through Elections Canada’s process and exercise their right as Canadian citizens to participate in our democratic process,” said Simon Jefferies. “We obliged.”

Well, lucky for the Conservatives.

No other party has such eager overseas volunteers in Hong Kong, where there are an estimated 300,000 Canadians — or anywhere else for that matter.

Potentially, the Hong Kong votes could be decisive in Metro Vancouver, Toronto and even Calgary ridings because overseas Canadians vote in the riding where they last lived. But, so far, only 865 have registered as of this week, according to Elections Canada. Globally, fewer than 20,000 have registered with nearly half of those living in the United States and most of the others living in Britain, Australia and Germany.

This is the first time in 25 years that all Canadians living abroad are eligible to vote in the federal election. The Canada Elections Act was amended last year in advance of a January ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that voting is “a fundamental political right, and the right to vote is a core tenet of our democracy.” Two Canadians living in the United States launched the Charter of Rights challenge in 2011 after Stephen Harper’s Conservative government began more strictly enforcing a 1993 change to the Canada Elections Act. That change denied the vote to Canadians who had lived abroad for five years or more.

It’s also, lucky for the Conservatives that Baird in his new role as a senior business advisor for a big Canadian law firm makes frequent visits to Hong Kong and China, and has lost none of his partisan zeal.

“Obviously we want Canadians living abroad to support the Conservative Party and make Andrew Scheer the next prime minister of Canada,” Baird said prior to his speech. “So, I’m here to encourage people to register and support him. “

That interview plus coverage of the event is posted on YouTube.

“What I hope is that an Andrew Scheer-led government can bring in more competent foreign policies and be able to re-engage with China and so we can be a strong, respected partner with China.”

The unaffiliated Conservatives’ organizers include Barrett Bingley from The Economist Group, who holds executive positions with both the American and Canadian chambers of commerce in Hong Kong, and Brett Stephenson, director of the Asia Business Trade Association.

The group’s Facebook page was only set up on August 28. And while it was set up as “a political organization,” it has yet to register as a third-party under the Elections Act.

Elections Canada spokesperson Natasha Gauthier didn’t know anything about Canadian Conservatives in Hong Kong. But she did outline the rules and noted that enforcement is done on a complaints-based system.

Regardless of where they live, any Canadian individuals or organizations spending $500 or more on partisan activities during the campaign and even in the pre-election period (which began June 30) must register. They need a bank account, a financial agent and an auditor if they spend more than $10,000.

They need to file revenue and expense statements. They need to list their donors because these are challenging times for democracies under threat from foreign interference and influence.

Gauthier emphasized that any person or organization that isn’t Canadian is forbidden from participating as third parties and as donors.

There’s also no official role for political parties to play in registering voters. That’s Election Canada’s job. Even the role of Canadian embassies and consulates is limited to printing out forms or pointing citizens to the Elections Canada website where people can register online and request their mail-in ballots. But they must get them back by Oct. 21. The deadline to register is Oct. 15, but Canadian Conservatives warn that getting it from Hong Kong to Ottawa by voting day means mailing it by Oct. 5.

These are troubled times in Hong Kong and at home in Canada. Linked by history and blood, both are now struggling in China’s dark shadow to preserve the rights and values that have enabled both to thrive.

But with protesters battling in Hong Kong’s streets, there are few places in the world where the right to vote in fair elections holds more meaning.

Source: Daphne Bramham: Conservatives go hunting for overseas votes

Liste préliminaire des Canadiens à l’étranger inscrits

  • Pays – Nombre –   % du total
  • États-Unis 8522 43,08 %
  • Royaume-Uni 2097 10,60 %
  • Australie 866 4,38 %
  • Hong Kong 865 4,37 %
  • Allemagne 862 4,36 %
  • France 720 3,64 %
  • Canada* 670 3,39 %
  • Suisse 483 2,44 %
  • Pays-Bas 350 1,77 %
  • Japon 297 1,50 %
  • Total des 10 pays : 15 731 79,53 %
  • Autres pays : 4053 21,47 %
  • Grand total : 19 784 100 %
  • *Personnel diplomatique

Source: Élections Canada lève le voile sur la liste des pays étrangers où résident des Canadiens

Canadians in Hong Kong urged to vote in federal election with an eye on party policies toward territory and China

Interesting that virtually all of the advocates quoted are non-Chinese Canadians. The one Chinese Canadian quoted makes the most sensible comment that his vote won’t be this single issue.

Given the large number of Canadian expats in Hong Kong, Richmond BC was a possible example where Chinese Canadian expats could influence the election result in that riding.

We will see whether the indefinite extension of voting rights for expats results in a significant increase in expat voting (only 15,603 registered in 2015 of whom 10,707 valid votes cast):

 As Hong Kong wrestles with its worst political crisis in years, Andrew Work wants the hundreds of thousands of Canadians living there to know they have a new chance to help elect a government in Ottawa that will represent their interests.

Mr. Work, president of the Canadian Club in Hong Kong, is organizing a voter-registration drive to urge some of the estimated 300,000 Canadians who live in the city to cast their ballots in the coming federal election in Canada. Previously, Canadians who had lived outside Canada for more than five years were barred in theory from voting under legislation from the early 1990s, That law was only loosely enforced. In response to a Harper government’s attempt to enforce that law, however, the Supreme Court ruled this January that all non-residents have the right to vote, no matter how long they have lived elsewhere. The Liberal government also passed legislation last December extending voting rights to all non-resident citizens.

“I am sure for some people, they will very much have [Hong Kong’s political turmoil] on their mind as they would look carefully at Canadian policies towards China and Hong Kong as part of their voting calculation,” Mr. Work said in an interview from Hong Kong.

“Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Now that Hong Kong is on the front page of newspapers everyday around the world, including Canada, Canadians of all types will have Canada’s policy on their mind.”

Ghislain Desjardins, a spokesman for Elections Canada, Asia, said earlier this week that there are 628 voters registered on the International Register of Electors in 198 different electoral districts. The agency doesn’t have country-specific numbers.

Hong Kong has been racked by months of protests by demonstrators angry at what they see as the Chinese government’s increasing incursion into the semi-autonomous territory’s affairs.

Barrett Bingley, originally from Victoria, now works as the North Asia sales director for The Economist in Hong Kong. He said the protests are having a devastating effect on the people who work for him.

“I have many staff who I worry about now,” he said. “I had staff who had been tear gassed; staff who were not protesting who were tear gassed … We have staff who are experiencing psychological issues. We have to make sure they’re well taken care of.”

When casting his vote in the Canadian election, he said he’ll be considering which political leader is willing to take a strong stand to protect the “one country, two systems” philosophy that China promised when it took possession of the territory from Britain in 1997. The arrangement allows Hong Kong its own laws for 50 years.

The recent weeks’ increasing violence in Hong Kong have made him concerned about his and his family’s safety. He said both Australia and British consulates sent representatives to Hong Kong’s airport, where some of the latest demonstrations took place. He said the Canadian consulate should be doing more to safeguard its citizens.

Instead, Mr. Bingley said he has been watching the Canadian government “say virtually nothing” on the issue except for a “soft statement” made by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week.

On Monday, Mr. Trudeau told the media that the government is “extremely concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong and called on Beijing to be “careful and respectful” in its handling in this crisis.

“We need to see the local authorities listening to the very serious concerns brought forward by Chinese citizens and their concerns around the decisions that the local authorities in Beijing have taken,” he said.

Mr. Bingley said he prefers the statement issued by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who wrote on Twitter: “As Beijing amasses troops at the Hong Kong border, now is the time for everyone committed to democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law to stand with the people of Hong Kong, including the 300,000 ex-pat Canadians. Now, and in the coming days, we are all Hong Kongers.”

Montreal-born Jean-Christophe Clement has been living in the city for a decade and has participated in the protests. The employee of a finance software vendor, 49, recently registered to vote and said a federal party’s position on what’s happening in the region would “almost entirely set the tone” for his voting decision.

He said he would cast his vote for a politician who is “in support of the protection of rule of law and democracy in Hong Kong.”

Although escalating tensions in the city haven’t affected his daily life much, he said the China’s People’s Armed Police exercising in Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, worries him.

“My concern would be PLA comes in and there’s martial law.”

Paul Evans, professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, said Mr. Scheer’s invocation of Cold War imagery of Berlin and the rallying cry of democracy, human rights and the rule of law will likely appeal to some.

But from his own experience in Hong Kong, he said people in the region are more realistic about the limited options that the territory has operating in its Chinese context, and the ability for other countries to have an impact.

For some other Canadians in Hong Kong, candidates’ domestic policies will weigh more in their votes.

Nathaniel Chan, who grew up in Toronto, said politicians’ positions on the Hong Kong issue have “no bearing” in his ballot.

“I think when we vote in a national election, it should be mostly about the standard of living for people in Canada or policies that affect all Canadians.”

Mr. Desjardins of Elections Canada said they sent 857 ballot kits to international electors in Asia during the last election, but the agency does not provide data on the number of ballots returned, for security reasons.

The agency conducts outreach through a small digital ad campaign targeting electors abroad, according to Mr. Desjardins, and also places posters at embassies and consulates with information on voting.

It’s not enough, Mr. Bingley said.

“What hasn’t been in Hong Kong so far though is there hasn’t been a campaign by the federal government, by the consulate to get Canadians registered and to explain how to do it,” Mr. Bingley said.

“There needs to be concerted information campaign of how to do this.”

How to inject youth into Newfoundland and Labrador’s broken, greying democracy

Providing provincial voting rights to expatriates makes little sense. Provincial services are largely residency-based, unlike federal voting rights which are citizenship-based (even there I have serious reservations as noted in earlier posts):

And not convinced in any case that this will make much difference in overall voting trends and turn-out:

What does it mean to be a voter in a Canadian federation increasingly defined by wealth inequality and economic migration?

As public policy scholars, we argue that politicians, policy-makers and citizens alike need to start rethinking how to ensure everyone’s voice is heard in a regionally diverse federation. More specifically, we think that provinces have good grounds for extending voting rights to expatriate citizens. In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, extending the vote is particularly warranted.

That’s because of two issues plaguing Newfoundland and Labrador: People are leaving the province, and those who remain are growing older.

As two expatriate Newfoundland and Labradorians — one of us in Australia — we watched from the sidelines during this spring’s provincial election. It was so defined by negativity and an absence of social vision that it inspired a playful CBC podcast with the question: “Does anyone actually want to win the election?”

That things played out this way came as little surprise. The province is trapped between a need to get its financial affairs in order and politicians who look to spending increases instead of long-term solutions as a means of winning elections. The ruling Liberals, for example, opened their campaign with an extra $152 million for the budget, including a cut to the deficit reduction levy which had only come into effect in 2016.

Not sustainable

Every citizen of the province knows this approach is unsustainable. To put the fiscal situation in perspective, Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial debt is a whopping $21,221 per capita, the highest in Canada, and its debt servicing costs as a per cent of provincial revenues stands at 13.8 per cent compared to the next highest province, Quebec, at eight per cent.

The graph below shows that Newfoundland and Labradorians face a tricky demographic challenge.

The graph vividly portrays how rapidly Newfoundland is growing older. Author provided

The share of the population under 50 years of age has been shrinking for the past 45 years. Since 2000, the population in age quintiles (five-year intervals) has declined in every age group below 50, while increasing in every age quintile above 50. While the population, post-2000, has remained relatively stable, the composition of the province’s population is vastly different.

As the population ages, so too does the median voter.

Citizens who are older are understandably less likely to support long-term reforms that will cut into their more immediate interests. This means that proposing tough solutions to current fiscal problems can make it hard to win elections, especially if there is a rural/urban divide separating younger and older voters.

Unlike Newfoundland’s fiscally tough solutions of the past, we propose a solution that more greatly strengthens attachment to home: Allowing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians living outside the province to vote.

Youth injection

To cast ballots in Newfoundland and Labrador elections, voters must be provincial residents the day before polling day. We propose to extend the vote in a simple, transparent and inclusive manner to anyone 18 or older who has ever attended school in the province.

Why former students? First, many children of Newfoundland and Labrador have been lured or forced abroad to scratch out a living or seek their fortune. All have been victims of the lack of opportunity at home. Many of these people wish to return, and many do return, in their more senior years. Why should their voices not be heard at the provincial ballot box?

A recent study published in the Journal of Labor Economics suggests that the mobility of these workers has boosted pay in their province of origin. Wages rise because employers at home must hike pay to prevent more workers from leaving. This is a real economic gain, on top of any money that workers who leave their home province send back home.

Second, there is precedent — national voter eligibility is not determined by location, but rather by citizenship. The electoral district you vote in federally is determined by your current residential address, but your eligibility to vote is preserved by the government of Canada even when you are living abroad.

Third, consider the civic education that has been instilled in these individuals through the province’s school system. They have a respect for the people and the land, the traditions and the ambitions of their home province.

Generally speaking, we extend the vote to people because they are either directly affected by the collective decisions of government or because they are subject to the laws of that government. Expatriates easily satisfy the first of these two conditions. Provincial policies affect both their ability to return home and their loved ones who remain behind.

To be sure, extending the franchise is not a magic bullet that will immediately solve the province’s problems. And there are no doubt further questions about the voting mechanisms needed to make this proposal a reality.

But we think extending the vote to expatriates strongly aligns with the province’s values. It could also help nudge its politics closer to long-term solutions that respect the roots and rights of all Newfoundland and Labradorians past, present and future.

Source: How to inject youth into Newfoundland and Labrador’s broken, greying democracy

When is an immigrant not an immigrant? When they’re rich

Nice piece on the somewhat semantic distinction between immigrants and expatriates, or more accurately, between migrants and expatriates:

Our attitudes towards immigration involve some stunning doublespeak. My own family tells the story quite well. My grandparents’ generation, of Africans on one side and Jews on the other, were “immigrants” who created “diasporas”. My parents’ generation are British, and when they lived in Brunei, shortly before I was born, enjoyed the label reserved for British immigrants – “expatriates”. Although, since expats are considered glamorous and successful, there is a question as to whether black British people are allowed to fall into that category. I know this because trolls, who don’t seem to have a problem with British expats per se, point to my having been born as one as evidence that in my case, it disqualifies me from Britishness, something I’ve never heard levelled at my white contemporaries.

The difference between expats and immigrants is that, while the latter are a problem, the former are – its celebrants tell us – British people “embracing a limitless life”. This tends, not surprisingly, to take part in the former empire. Most British expats are concentrated in Australia, Spain, the US and Canada. The best place of all, according to research by HSBC bank – itself an expatriate colonial invention – is Singapore (good for health, education and improving your earnings).

The limitless life has, however, been experiencing a few unfortunate limits of late. It was a deeply unfortunate juxtaposition that the very day on which the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright was boasting Britain’s “toughest internet laws in the world”, a former British expat in Dubai was reported to have been arrested for comments she made on Facebook. Laleh Shahravesh was detained for calling her ex-husband’s new wife a horse. We should never condone trolling, but I would personally find that pretty complimentary compared to the the social media abuse I get on an average day.

Brunei, meanwhile, where my parents lived on the British expat circuit, is also putting a real dampener on the limitless life of the British expat, or at least one who is gay or planning to commit adultery or have an abortion, all of which are now punishable by sadistic acts of state-sponsored violence. Protestors have been making a scene outside hotels in which almost nobody can afford to stay, but our stance on British companies and their thousands of staff living and working in Brunei seems to have been quietly left out of the picture.

Maybe that’s because the lack of adherence to human rights standards in our favourite expat destinations poses some difficult questions. The British diaspora – though we never call it that – is seen as a useful tool for making Britain a great trading nation in the world again.

Unsurprisingly, there is zero evidence that the British government is planning to jeopardise all this by taking a more principled position in relation to human rights abuses. It places growing emphasis on the Commonwealth, despite the fact that this club’s failure to hold Brunei’s backward steps in human rights standards is just one of many examples. The United Arab Emirates, which was already in the spotlight after accusing the British academic Matthew Hedges of being a spy last year, has the unique privilege of being the only country in the world in which we have two embassies – one in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai. Britain is currently defending in the court of appeal its refusal to halt weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in the face of credible international evidence that our arms are helping the Saudis regularly attack civilians in Yemen.

We can have a debate about whether it is right for Britain to enforce human rights standards in other countries as part of an ethical foreign policy. I, like the countless local activists in each of the countries where Britain prop ups abusive regimes, have no problem taking a stance in favour of ethical foreign policies. However, I have yet to hear that our government has decided, through a reasoned process of inquiry and consensus, that we are having a non-ethical one.

But there is a bigger question about immigration here too. We consider British immigrants to be people of means, whether former military personnel once stationed luxuriously in the Raj or today’s corporate lawyers enjoying tax-free living in the Gulf. If we bothered to think about our real view of British immigration, we would probably conclude that immigrants we don’t regard as a problem are those who aren’t poor.

We are generous enough to extend these ideas about immigration to a few other people too. On the day the Home Office announced its settlement scheme for EU migrants, I was speaking to a Dutch banker who has lived in the UK for years. “Will you apply?” I asked him, innocently. He looked at me as if I were a bit simple. “I’m just assuming that, like all these things, there will be an exemption for rich people,” he replied.

He is undoubtedly right. We suspend judgment for all rich immigrants, just as we do for British immigrants – so much so we don’t even call them immigrants. And so I guarantee that when it comes to countries where the immigrants are both rich and Brits, such as Brunei, we will avoid conducting any further analysis at all.

Source: When is an immigrant not an immigrant? When they’re rich

Elections Canada braces for a surge in international voters

Have written extensively against this extension and will be interesting to see what the take up will actually be and whether it is really an important issue for Canadian expatriates or not. The numbers below mentioned suggest it was not:

It was a short letter from Elections Canada — but for Gillian Frank, getting it felt like “an old wound had finally started to heal.”

“I was overjoyed,” said Frank, a Canadian living in the United States who received the letter earlier this month confirming his right to cast a ballot in the upcoming federal election.

For seven years, Frank and other Canadians living abroad fought for the right to vote in general elections and national referendums.

In December 2018, the Trudeau government passed Bill 76 — just a month before the Supreme Court of Canada shot down the 1993 law that prohibited Canadians who had lived outside Canada for more than five years from voting in Canadian elections, calling it a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Frank and fellow ex-pat Jamie Duong filed that charter challenge after being denied ballots in 2011. Bill 76 restored voting rights to all Canadians living abroad; the Supreme Court ruling prevents future governments from restoring the ban.

Number of international voters could triple

Since January, Elections Canada has been mailing out letters to Canadians abroad reminding them that they’re back on the international electors list.

“It felt like a moment of closure, a moment of real victory,” Frank said.

Elections Canada expects to see a surge in the number of mail-in or ‘special’ ballots. It estimates the number of Canadians voting from abroad could almost triple — from 11,000 voters in 2015 to 30,000 in 2019.

To cope with the demand, Elections Canada issued a tender in March for a new system to automate the way ballots are distributed.

“We are reducing the number of processes carried out by hand related to special ballots,” Elections Canada spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said in an email. “In automating these processes, we will reduce the number of staff required to handle the volume of ballots we receive.

“These optimizations will not include automated counting of ballots — all ballots will still be marked and counted by hand.”

‘We’re all Canadian citizens’

Duong said Canadians should not fret about the prospect of votes by Canadians living in the U.S. or Hong Kong swinging individual ridings. If it happens, it happens, he said.

“You can say that about any group. What if votes of people 65 and over change the outcome? What if votes [from voters aged] 18 to 25 change the outcome?” Duoug said.

“We’re all Canadian citizens. We all have a right to vote. So, yes our votes should matter. And they should possibly change the outcome of the elections.”

Former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley argues we’ll never know for sure whether the re-appearance of ex-pat voting in 2019 had any real effect on the outcome, since voting is secret. And while “it just takes one vote to swing a riding,” he said, the ex-pat vote likely isn’t going to have that kind of influence because Canadians abroad have to jump through a lot of hoops before casting ballots.

International voters, he said, have to register themselves on the international voter list, find which ridings they belong to, figure out who’s running, fill out their ballots correctly and then mail them in on time. They also have to pay the international postage themselves.

“These are all difficulties we do not have to overcome when we’re voting from Canada,” Kingsley said.

Source: Elections Canada braces for a surge in international voters