Immigrants Voting!!??!!! Are You Crazy?

Here is a super crazy idea from Plumer :

Why should non-citizens have to be disenfranchised? Why not just let anyone living here legally vote?

It seems a bit crazy, but it’s worth putting out there. Non-citizen immigrants seem to be constitutionally barred from voting at the federal level in any case, but nothing’s stopping anyone from giving them the vote in state and local elections. And why not? Presumably immigrants should have a say in, for instance, what goes on in the schools they’re sending their kids to.

Holy cow!! Immigrants voting!!!?! What’s next? Pigs sprouting wings?

Now, Plumer was talking of U.S. but this question holds true for Canada too.

I have been in Canada for 4 years. Before that I was in Dubai and Bahrain for 3 years. Before that I was in India but since I was not living in my home state since 1993, I could not vote (the concept of absentee voting does not exist in India and I was too busy (read, lazy) to re-register myself in Delhi). So, for all rhymes and reasons, I have not voted since 1990. So does that mean I have no concept of politics?

Canada is a fascinating political country. It’s democracy mirrors Indian democracy to a large extent. Just as in India, the voters in Canada are by and large aligned to one party and their vote does not change with each election. But, because there are about 4 political parties the main stream politics (as opposed to 20 or so in India!!), each election throws up a surprise. Just as in India it is the provinces that have the ultimate say in the federal structure of the country. Just as in India, a government perceived not be performing to the set standard (BTW, who set these
standards?) can be bought down with a no confidence motion.

One of the main reasons for the “surprises” in Canadian elections is the migrant vote. Migrants are a big part of Canadian society and in Ontario, they play an important role. Since Ontario holds the most electoral seats in the formation of a federal government, needless to say that Ontario is generally the deciding factor in Canadian politics.

When we say migrant here in Canada it generally means people who are obviously “non-whites” rather than if they are citizens or not. Sad, but true. Therefore, the Sikh bloc (Sikhs are from the Indian state of Punjab and arrived in Canada in huge numbers in the 1970s and 1980s) most of
whose members are born and bought up here in Canada are viewed as a migrant bloc. So is the case of Chinese bloc, so is the case of south Asian Muslim bloc and so on. And all these blocs vote for the person from their community. Again, sad but true. In fact, I will go as far as saying that the average “non-Canadian migrant” voter (a citizen of Canada) is oblivious of the federal politics and votes for whomsoever his neighbour is voting for.

So my question is why cannot I vote? I have a fairly good grasp of Canadian politics and can form an informed opinion about a politician (or a political party) and decide if my vote should be going to that person or not. The reason why I cannot vote is because I am not a citizen. And what will it take me to be a citizen? I have to prove to the immigration board that I am going to stay in this country. Well, I have a home here, a couple of cars, my daughter was born here, my wife is trying to get her licence to practice dentistry here, I have investments here, I have debts
here. What more do you want me to do to prove that I want to die a Canadian?

I have the right to do anything in Canada except vote. I fail to understand why. This is what I was asking my colleague who was going to vote. As far as I know my daughter and (perhaps) her kids will be living here in Canada. I want her and her kids to grow up in a Canada which is
free from environmental disasters. To play my part I will vote for the politician today who has similar beliefs. But because the Canadian government has kept an artificial time limit for me to be able to attain citizenship, I have no say in my daughter’s future.

I need an answer to this question. Can anyone help me?

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