In the Blog

Why can’t some residents vote?

September 23rd, 2009     by Andrea Hoang     Comments

Federal election talk has settled down, and while many were grumbling about going back to the ballots, the right to vote on even a local level is not something everyone has access to.

In just Toronto, there are a quarter of a million people who can play, work, contribute to their communities and pay taxes – but cannot vote in municipal elections. These are permanent residents.

Meanwhile, Canadian citizens who own property but do not live in the city can vote, but permanent residents who do live in the city cannot.

The process of becoming a citizen takes a minimum of three years, but it usually takes much longer.

I Vote Toronto is a grassroots organization that was created in hopes of making community politics more inclusive, and is campaigning to extend municipal voting rights to permanent residents.

This isn’t a new idea. Thirty countries, including the U.S allow non-citizens to vote at a municipal level.

This brings new perspectives into considering whose issues election results reflect. This can soon be especially important in Hamilton, where some city councilors agree that entities who pay taxes and contribute to the community should have the right to vote – but they aren’t talking about permanent residents – they’re talking about corporations.

Those who are in favour of corporate voting think it would give businesses a more positive image to investors. And supporters argue that since businesses pay taxes, they should be entitled to vote.

What kind of message do you think this sends to newcomers? And what do you think about corporate voting versus voting rights for permanent residents?

Tags: activist report

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