Citizens only should have the right to vote

Posted on: June 12, 2009

The mayor of Toronto wants landed immigrants to have the right to vote.
Years ago, for the first time I fell into discussion with an landed immigrant on Canada. It was during a break in a hot garage. We both worked for a trucking company in Edmonton.
I’d never heard of a landed immigrant before. I learned it was a step toward citizenship.
“So when do you apply for citizenship?’ I asked.
“Why bother?” he shrugged. “I can work here, I can do everything here, the only thing I can’t do is vote.”
He had no intention of applying for citizenship. He didn’t see the use. He wasn’t interested in having the vote.
I became angry over it. It was like he was using the country’s generosity without appreciation.
Since that time, I married a landed immigrant (she’s now a citizen) and I’ve seen people become Canadian citizens then move to the United States – apparently it’s easier. I’ve met and discussed this issue informally with a dozen new Canadians over the years. I’ve worked with perhaps 40 to 50 foreign contract workers and landed immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa.
Some love Canada and the opportunity. Not all have a love for this country. For some it’s a cold-blooded business transaction. Others hold a love for their former country so deep there is no room for this country in their heart. Perhaps there will be for their children.
Those discussions have taught me not all who come here love this country or even give a damn about it. They have their own reasons for being here, and citizenship is not the goal for all of them.
Knowing that only reinforces my dissapointment with the announced goal of Toronto’s mayor that we hand over the franchise to landed immigrants. To do so serves no one, not the would-be Canadians nor Canada.
If you want to vote, it’s not to much to ask to care a little, to learn the issues, to know a bit of the history, to know who you’re voting for, or to contribute. Then it’s not to much to ask by proving that by going for citizenship. It’s not too much to ask to become Canadian if you want to vote in Canada.
Why would it be too much to ask?
The vote is a right of citizenship that should never be degraded. It is not new-fashioned or cosmopolitan to hold the view that citizens should share the vote with those who just arrived. Having the right to vote is a privilege and responsibility. Earning the right by actually becoming a Canadian citizen is the least we should require.


1 Response to "Citizens only should have the right to vote"

Nice blog! Keep up the good work.

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