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Permanent Resident Voting Isn’t “Backward,” It’s Back to the Future

Allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections isn't new—it's happened throughout Canada's history.

Photo by asianz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by asianz from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Those who object to the idea of permanent residents voting in municipal elections—an idea Toronto city council has now endorsed—love to bang the drum of the status quo. Many reference, albeit superficially, the traditions enshrined within our British parliamentary system. They take offense at the mere suggestion of reform, as if the human and financial costs of our ever-lengthening citizenship process are merely individual inconveniences, not constraints that curb our growth and development as a city.

Recognizing that any set of criteria that determines voting rights will necessarily seem arbitrary to some, they say, why not stick to the time-honoured one we have, one that respects the significance of citizenship as a status that must be earned, and grants privileges only to those we are sure are committed to life here?

But why don’t critics, many of whom call the proposed reform “backward,” mention that non-citizens have historically been allowed to vote in some cases? The practice of non-citizen voting in Canada’s local elections is a well-documented part of our political tradition—and a seemingly inconvenient one for those who expect today’s newcomers to pipe down and accept the status quo.

How much a part of our history? Until 25 years ago anyone who was not a Canadian citizen but was a citizen of any other commonwealth country could vote in Toronto’s municipal elections, if they either owned or rented property here. (In practice, explains Ryerson politics professor Myer Siemiatycki, non-white British subjects were routinely excluded from this practice during the first half of the 20th century [PDF].) The Crown enfranchised British subjects who established roots in the colony through property: that relationship was taken as evidence of reasonable interest in local decision-making, whether or not someone was Canadian.

It wasn’t until the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into effect in 1982 that the legal underpinnings of that system began to change. Because the Charter prohibits discrimination based on national origin, the Ontario government revoked the voting rights of non-Canadian commonwealth citizens in 1985; that change took effect in 1988.

It could equally have eliminated that discrimination by extending local voting rights to citizens of any country who owned or rented property here, or by establishing some other criterion, like residency.

There would have been precedent for the latter, as well: there have also been times in Canadian history when we acknowledged that residency, even without property ownership, was a valid indicator of belonging, and extended the vote on that basis. One of the requirements for federal voter eligibility in British Columbia during the 1860s was that “all electors had to have lived in the province for at least 12 months and in the riding for at least two months before an election.” More than owning property, the Crown expected subjects to live where they intended to vote.

Today in Toronto, Canadian citizens who are not residents of Toronto but who hold property here, either as renters or owners, are still granted a municipal vote. In fact, a person who holds property in any of Ontario’s 444 municipalities can vote in each respective district. We recognize that there are ties beyond citizenship that link an individual to a community—link them strongly enough that they should be able to vote—yet we limit the privilege only to citizens with property relationships to the city.

A Calgarian who owns an investment property in Toronto but never visits here can vote, but a permanent resident who has lived here for two years, who sends her children to school here, and interacts with the city in dozens of meaningful ways each day cannot. Some say this is justified because, absent citizenship, we’ve no reason to have faith that the latter individual has a clear commitment to or interest in Toronto, but for most of our history we never took citizenship to be the sole or exclusive measure of that commitment.

Even if we accept all this, we still have to ask ourselves how we might directly benefit from extending the vote to permanent residents. What are the positive, constructive reasons for embracing the change?

The answer lies in the expanding importance of cities as economic, social, and cultural centres.

Edmonton and Calgary are the leading sites for Canada’s population growth, with GTA cities like Brampton, Missisauga, Markham, and Vaughan also booming. Almost seven in 10 Canadians now lives in a “census metropolitan area” as defined by Statistics Canada.

As this demographic shift evolves, municipalities are responding by seeking new powers to control their own affairs and raise their own taxes. The 1997 City of Toronto Act gave our city new powers in recognition of this growing role, and acknowledge Toronto as “a government that is capable of exercising its powers in a responsible and accountable fashion.” Vancouver and Montreal also have local charters, and are working with their respective provincial partners to achieve more local autonomy. Calgary and Edmonton are in the midst of negotiating their own Big Cities charter with the Alberta government.

As we concentrate more people and power in our cities, local stakeholders become more important players in governance. Estimates peg the number of voting-age permanent residents of Toronto at 250,000 at least—that’s 15 per cent of the population. By withholding voting rights from them we eliminate a substantial chunk of stakeholder feedback right off the bat. A city that hopes to consolidate its local authority cannot afford to exclude so many voices from decisions about local planning, transit, schools, parks, recreation, and housing. The newcomers who inhabit our urban centres need a say on settlement and integration issues so they can succeed and participate as soon as possible; they need a say on all issues so that the municipal government can properly reflect the needs of all the residents who, one way or another, will be drawing on its services.

Prior to 2007, non-citizens in Toronto were not allowed to serve on city agencies, boards, and commissions and corporations. That rule is now history, and it only changed because we recognized that citizenship, while important, has never been the benchmark for having a stake in one’s local community. People who live here permanently are a part of city-building. Allowing them to vote in our local elections is one important way to build a city in which they, and all of us, can grow and thrive.

—Desmond Cole is the acting project coordinator of I Vote Toronto, a campaign to extend the municipal vote to Toronto’s permanent residents.


  • amugsgame

    Nicely argued.

  • Joe Clark

    Selective citation of the historical record does nothing to negate the fact that nonresidents are foreign nationals, hence allowing them to vote amounts to endorsing foreign infiltration of our democratic process.

    You want to vote? Become a citizen. The rest of us did.

    I look forward to Desmond Cole’s endorsement of Australian-style compulsory voting. Then I’d think his motives, ostensibly centred on expanding the franchise, were genuine.

    • vampchick21

      I didn’t become a citizen, I was born here. So I got to be one by default. I don’t know why you are using the term ‘nonresident’ as the discussion is about Permanent Residents. Nonresident means they don’t live and work here. Permanent Resident means they do. Thereby paying taxes, buying goods and services and contributing to their general community. Same things I do and you do. The only difference is that you and I have citizenship (mine by default, yours I don’t know, not knowing you) and they do not yet, which could be for many different reasons. They certainly are not here to leech off the system.

      • Testu

        As a guess, I’d say that he didn’t use the correct term because he knows that “Permanent Resident” doesn’t quite fit into a narrative of “foreign infiltration of our democratic process” unless you’re incredibly xenophobic. Instead he invented a nonsense term that doesn’t in any way apply to the group in question and used that to make a critique of the article without actually addressing any of its content.

        The only relevant point he did make was “You want to vote? Become a citizen. The rest of us did.” which basically completely ignores the entire content of the article.

        It’s inflammatory, that’s about it.

        • HotDang

          It’s inflammatory, that’s about it.

          Just like every Joe Clark comment.

          • Testu

            Well, yeah.

            He’s actually a pretty good writer on some technical subjects and I like his stuff on typography. But he always manages to pop up with something amazingly racist or xenophobic whenever there’s an article involving “foreigners”.

            Mostly it bothers me that this undercurrent of xenophobia is still present and surprisingly accepted in Toronto.

          • the_lemur

            There’s always some kind of weasely justification he tries to use for his xenophobia: ‘We have nothing to learn from country X’, ‘Religion Y is personally a threat to me’, ‘People in other English-speaking countries spell and punctuate incorrectly (because nothing other than the Canadian way should exist)’.

      • Duane

        You are basically stating that being a citizen has no relevance. One of the freedoms that we have is voting. The citizens of our country decide laws and statutes through voting. If we allow foreign nationals to dictate our laws, is that not threatening our nations sovereign status? You should know that we have plenty of leetches that are citizens. I am sure that there are some non citizen leetches out there as well.

        • dsmithhfx

          Damn those leetches!

        • the_lemur

          Foreign nationals can’t ‘dictate’ our laws by voting, nor even by being elected, if that were to be made possible as well.

        • Testu

          I thought voting was a right (of citizens), not a freedom. And the citizens don’t decide anything by voting except who their parliamentary or ward representatives are. We have a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. Our MPs, MPPs, and councillors are the ones who vote on laws.

          Perhaps if you had a better handle on how democracy works in Canada you wouldn’t be so concerned about the effects of “foreign nationals” on our “nations sovereign status”.

        • vampchick21

          Are you therefore of the mind that someone with Permanent Resident status is never going to become a citizen? And actually I am not negating citizenship at all, you just decided to look at my statement from that angle. I didn’t do anything special to become a citizen, I was born here, and that’s it.

        • tomwest

          There are Canadian citizens who are (gasp) also foreign nationals, you know…

      • Joe Clark

        You certainly don’t know that nonresidents “are not here to leech off the system.” But if you agitate to let nonresidents vote and get your way, you certainly will know they’re infiltrating the democratic process.

        Residency is national in scope when it pertains to voting, hence the term is not a misnomer in this discussion, to the extent that you 25-year-old Spacer manqué(e)s can hold one.

        • Testu

          “Residency is national in scope when it pertains to voting”

          Except in the context of this discussion, where it’s not, because we’re discussing municipal voting rights for residents of Toronto. So that the residents of this city can vote for their ward representative regardless of whether they have Canadian citizenship.

          Saying that they’re infiltrating our democratic process isn’t scary to anyone who isn’t afraid of immigrants. Giving people who live in the city the ability to vote for their ward representative does not conjure up any nightmare scenarios.

          And please, stop trying to insult people using mots français. It’s obnoxious.

          • Joe Clark

            You have to be a citizen to vote (QED). If you’re trying to change that, fine, but expect to be opposed.

          • Testu

            Obviously someone is trying to change that, that’s the entire point of the article.

            You haven’t actually made any arguments yet, you just keep restating the same tautology: You need to be a citizen to vote because only citizens can vote.

            Do you actually have an argument for why Permanent Resident status immigrants who are residents of Toronto shouldn’t be allowed to vote in municipal elections?

    • Paul Kishimoto

      Infiltration! Scary!

    • dsmithhfx

      “You want to vote? Become a citizen.”

      Not your call.

      • malna

        Well. This joe clark character probably does a vote, thus he does share a part of the call.

        And history suggests (for many good reasons) that Joe Clark’s call might actually be the right one, as long as we as human beings continue to draw invisible nation border lines in the sand.

      • torontothegreat

        Concerning the current state of the law and practice? Not so much. #realityfail

        • dsmithhfx


          • torontothegreat

            Your original statement is false. No amount of obnoxious hash tagging will change that.

          • dsmithhfx

            You loon!

      • Joe Clark

        No, it’s Parliament’s.

        • dsmithhfx

          Thanks for clearing that up!

    • the_lemur

      You’re a citizen by default, and you can vote here only by virtue of your residence here now that you are no longer an out-of-towner.
      Residents of the city who pay property taxes are entitled to participate in the democratic process involving those taxes. To deny them this is taxation without representation.

      • malna

        This conflates municipal politics with federal politics quite significantly.

        The federal government grants many individuals some form of permanent resident status, yet does not allow that individual to vote in the federal election. Why do permanent residents continue to move to Canada, despite being taxed at the federal level without representation? The choice is available to be taxed with representation, should that individual choose to pursue said option.

        As much as I would love Canadian rights to be extended to everyone within our borders, borders exist, and optimal voting policies under the existence of country/municipal borders typically leave a few people out of the equation.

        • the_lemur

          We allow non-residents of the city (who are Canadian citizens and of voting age) to vote in municipal elections if they own property here, but there is no test of ‘Toronto’ citizenship. We allow citizens to move here and vote as soon as they can prove residency, without necessarily knowing anything of local politics.

      • Joe Clark

        What you’re calling taxation without representation I call infiltration of the democratic process without making a commitment to your country. You make it sound as though reiterating a phrase from American history tidies everything up.

        • the_lemur

          The phrase may be American (and it is not restricted to history, since there are still American citizens who cannot vote at the local/municipal level, despite paying taxes at that level, because there is only non-elected government at that level – I’m sure you can figure out where), but the principle is not exclusively American. What democracies currently disenfranchise resident taxpayers?

        • the_lemur

          Is it really ‘infiltration’ of the democratic process to grant someone the right to choose a representative who will decide on how to use the rates that that person pays?
          Or is it ‘infiltration’ because you fear that resident non-citizens, if granted municipal voting rights, will form a single electoral bloc? Which way do you think they’d all vote?

    • Lee Zamparo

      This type of alarmist ‘invasion of the clubhouse’ mentality does not help anyone. PRs may be ‘foreign nationals’, but they have become permanent residents of Canada. That’s not for nothing; they want to *become* citizens. Don’t you think it would be a fair trade to honour their commitment by allowing them to have a say in who represents their community and their city?

      • malna

        Lumping all permanent residents into the same category, like you and the author have done, is incredibly dangerous and makes any subsequent argument very difficult. What evidence suggests “permanent residents” have any interest in becoming a Canadian citizen? I would argue almost the opposite: Most “permanent residents” only have an interest in ensuring that their employers continue to employ them, as that is likely the primary reason they are a “permanent resident” in the first place (whichever category of PR you might be referring to).

        There is nothing permanent about all categories of permanent residents, and we should not be giving a vote to all permanent residents. This is not an ‘invasion of the clubhouse mentality’, this is about creating optimal policy under current conditions and ensuring that voters are given the proper incentive to put Canada’s best interests (short and long term) in mind.

        Yes, there should be some threshold by which certain types of permanent residents can earn a vote without necessitating citizenship.

        • tomwest

          “Most “permanent residents” only have an interest in ensuring that their employers continue to employ them, as that is likely the primary reason they are a “permanent resident” in the first place (whichever category of PR you might be referring to).”

          So they wish to continue to live and work here and pay taxes? And then have some say on how those taxes are spent? The horror!

          • malna

            No, it is not horrible at all. I would love to create an efficient pathway to earning a vote for everyone, ever.

            Unfortunately we continue to lump all permanent residents in the same category, and while doing so, we ignore the nuances of the situation.

            Thus, i stand by the statement that “permanent residents, on average, owe a greater allegiance to their employer rather than the jurisdiction their employer currently does business in” (paraphrased).

            If you want to talk about certain visa types and the legitimate pathways we can create for different types of permanent residents, I am all ears. In one of the first comments in this thread I said (word for word):

            “For example, if the author were to argue that W Toronto resident holding X Canada passport/visa class with Y past tax month contributions and Z evidence proving continued ties to Toronto in the future (ie job/property/etc), I think most people would support opening the vote to this group.”

            Thoughts? Questions? We can’t ignore the competitive nature of nation borders while they exist. Although I have no problem discussing the finer points about whether or not borders should exist in the first place (a different argument than that of property rights).

          • tomwest

            Filling your values: “Toronto residents holding Candian permanent resdience visas with 0 past tax month contriibutions and the fact they rent/pay property tax in Toronto as proof of continued ties”…. yields exactly what’s proposed.
            (Using tax contiburtions would exclude homemakers (for example), hence my value of 0.)

          • Lee Zamparo

            We are already pretty competitive as a nation for PRs. Allowing them more privileges would make the prospect of a Canadian PR even more enticing. As I already pointed out, statistically 80% of PRs continue onto citizenship.

            While recognizing the competitive nature of nation borders, what is much more germane to this proposition is how much we care to include community members of a certain class (PRs) into their community democratic process.

        • Lee Zamparo

          This evidence suggests that about 80% of permanent residents become citizens: So now we have two categories of PR: the vast majority, who clearly want to become citizens, and a small minority that do not. It was not incredibly dangerous.

          Of the other 20% who do not, how many would even be interested in voting? By your

      • Joe Clark

        If they want to become citizens, let them do it; then we’ll talk. No, it isn’t “fair” to “honour” any “commitment” other than citizenship when it comes to voting.

        By the way, kids, happy Canada Day.

        • Lee Zamparo

          I wish you’d explain why you don’t think more participation is better. I wish you’d also explain why you thought it appropriate to respond to me using derisive and dismissive quotes around the words “fair”, “honour” and “commitment”. Makes you seem as if you don’t have a sound counter-argument; thanks for the tacit encouragement of my position.

          Happy Canada Day to you too, Joe. I hope you use it to reflect on what it means to be Canadian.

          • Joe Clark

            I think “more participation” by actually legally qualified voters is “better.” And if you really believe more is better, you must surely be in favour of compulsory voting. Works fine in Oz.

          • Testu

            The article proposes “more participation” by changing the definition of legally qualified, is that not also a valid option?

          • Lee Zamparo

            Then we agree, glad you finally came around. You do love your air quotes, don’t you.

          • the_lemur

            Requiring eligible voters to vote is another matter, but sure, let’s accept your assertion that it ‘works fine’.

            Allowing resident non-citizens (NOT ‘non-residents’) to vote locally and municipally), under certain conditions, also works fine in many other countries.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      “… foreign infiltration of our democratic process.”

      So you must believe anyone with dual citizenship should also be denied voting rights in Canada. They are allied with spooky foreign powers, after all.

      • the_lemur

        We allow them to be elected officials at the provincial and federal levels, and people born outside Canada as well.

        • malna

          A dual citizen is a Canadian citizen in the eyes of Canada, and according to @ Joe Clark’s statements these citizens have earned the right to vote. And though he did not directly say it (you have), I would imagine @ Joe Clark would believe that one who has earned Canadian citizenship should also be allowed to run for government, based on his short statements here.

      • malna

        Yeah that is totally not what @ Joe Clark said, and I don’t even fully agree with his statement.

        He clearly said that one should become a citizen before getting a vote. A dual citizen has clearly earned their citizenship. At least in Canada we do not force a dual citizen to denounce their former citizenship or cede most rights afforded to them under their previous jurisdiction (while still allowing them to maintain the paper work, which is now mostly worthless).

        While the statement “foreign infiltration of our democratic process” is a little aggressive, the most reasonable thing that can be implied from this is that Canada should not be giving additional incentives to voters that might not necessarily have Canada’s present a future interests in mind.

        The only spooky foreign powers that exist are the ones you have put into words.

        • Testu

          He actually said “nonresidents are foreign nationals, hence allowing them to vote amounts to endorsing foreign infiltration of our democratic process”. Since there is no way in the English language for “nonresident” to mean “permanent resident”. And since voting rights for permanent residents are the subject of the article and this discussion his argument was a non sequitur.

          The “amounts to endorsing foreign infiltration of our democratic process” part is just dog whistle racism.

          • malna

            Apologies, I was responding directly to the citizenship claim, because this is what the previous commenter commented on.

            You are correct though, non-residents sure as hell are not permanent residents, unless you have some really good drugs and are trying to invent some new language, and the rest of the argument is mostly a non sequitur.

            That being said, I seriously think this guy made a typo and wrote “non resident” where he should have wrote “permanent resident” as non resident is mentioned nowhere else (that i’ve seen yet) in this thread. Given that most in this thread, the author included, do not seem very well versed in the fact that all permanent residents are not the same, its not that difficult to read past this especially given the fact that the responses (mine included) had no problem reading past this.

          • Testu

            I wasn’t just being pedantic, Joe Clark has a history of popping up and posting disingenuous augments for the sake of supporting some incredibly racist views. Given the context here I believed his “typo” to be quite intentional, especially given what he followed it up with.

          • malna

            I’m obviously not new to the internet (nor the Torontoist) and half expected there was some history here with this user, though I am obviously not familiar with the Joe Clark user directly. I knew what I was getting myself into in commenting here, and I am very familiar with the political leanings of most that frequent this site. My first thought was that Joe Clark was trolling this site, and that the Torontoist community was actually doing a poor job of outing the troll.

            That being said, the other commenters in this thread should have argued as you did, if there is indeed a history of racism with this commenter.

            Instead, most replies to his comment position themselves as poorly formed argumentative attacks on various aspects of the comment, some of these arguments being as off base as inferring racism from Joe Clark’s comments without knowing Joe Clark’s history.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            “the Torontoist”?

            XXX, is that you?

          • malna

            Sorry dude, no clue what you are talking about. If you are mistaking me for some other user I can assure you this is not the case. I have included the Torontoist in my RSS reader for a long time, and have only started reading and engaging in the comments since moving to Toronto recently. This might only be the second/third article I have commented on, and you will clearly see that this user handle mostly comments on baseball websites (and has for a long time).

            Being familiar with a couple aspects of how the Internet works, it would be hard for you to convince me that this username/handle is some sort of trolling alter ego of some user possibly named ‘XXX’, especially given that the posting history with Disqus is easily accessible (and it is a pretty long history). I admit that I have a baseball problem, okay?!?!?!

          • Testu

            To be fair, we all have a baseball problem, it’s called the Toronto Blue Jays.

            Because this is the internet, I’ll ruin my joke by clarifying that I am joking here. My goodness, trolls have ruined all our fun.

          • the_lemur
        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          His “aggressive” phrasing equates non-citizenship with foreign agency; that is to say, these candidates of untested loyalty may vote (at the muncipal level, remember) according to influences from beyond our borders (national). A citizen of another country, even if they are a sworn Canadian, has the same foreign loyalties.

          • malna

            At no point does his “aggressive” phrasing “equate” a non-citizen with a foreign agency. However, it would be sheer ignorance if one did not suggest that a non-citizen did not have some “affiliation” with a foreign agency. This “affiliation” could be as weak as “yeah, i came from that other country when I was 2 months old, so what?”.

            You might be correct when you theorize that “A citizen of another country, even if they are a sworn Canadian, has the same foreign loyalties [as a randomly selected PR from that same country?]“. Unfortunately, this does not imply that we should be creating additional blanket policies for all categories of permanent residents which might create voting incentives we do not yet know the consequences of.

            As it stands right now, we as Canadians feel that the negative consequences of policy-created-voting-incentives are reduced after one has to go through the citizenship hoops (based on policy history and lack of uproar). Of course we can debate this point, but I maintain that the vote should not just be handed out to any random permanent resident (that may or may not have Canada’s present and future interests in mind) especially when there already exists miles of red tape (legitimate citizenship paths) that permanent residents can cut through to make the rest of the voters more comfortable with that new voter’s version of Canadian sustainability.

          • Testu

            Just out of curiosity, what kind of scenario can you envision in which 15% of the eligible voters in the city, spread across the city’s 44 wards, with their only vote being for a specific candidate (again, 1 out of 44) for city council, could affect Canadian sustainability or in any way disenfranchise or negatively affect Canadian citizens?

            I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m just curious because I’ve seen the suggestion that there could be some negative consequences if PRs (of any stripe) are able to vote in municipal elections. So far no one has expanded on what these negative consequences might be.

          • malna

            I’m not going to lie, I am a little confused by your question but I would love to engage in a conversation about this further if you can rephrase it. Fighting is for those that can’t argue, and I’m not here to pick fights either.

            To answer this for now, I will only give you an anecdote:

            I was once a temp resident of the states (USA), on a particular class of visa, and have many family members and friends that have been or currently are technically considered permanent USA residents with different classes of visas/green cards/psuedo-dual-citizenships. If I, or most of the non-citizens I know, were given a USA federal vote I can assure you we would be voting for our own short term interests, not the long term interests of the USA. “Oh, this candidate supports building a highway between my home and work? Where do I vote for this guy?”. This is not because we are bad people, this is because we are stupid/ignorant/do-not-specialize-in-political-voting and need policies to ensure that we are not given the incentive to vote for our own self interests. Honestly, when was the last time all your closest friends read the platforms for the parties they have voted for in the past? Maybe you have, and I have read the platforms for the parties I have voted for. But I never had enough time to read the platforms for all the parties competing against the parties I have voted for.

            TLDR: It is easy for a politician to tailor its policies to residents viewing politics through a short term lens. If we opened a vote to all classes of permanent residents I posit that programs like Pension and End-of-Life Healthcare funding would likely be the first programs to suffer.

            Again, I would love your question rephrased so we can debate the points specifically without using my crappy anecdotes.

          • Testu

            Sorry, that was me trying to cram too much into a single sentence.

            Basically, I was asking what kind of negative effects you felt we would see given the relatively small proportion of people that qualify as permanent residents in the city and the fact that their vote is essentially limited to choosing their ward representative.

          • malna

            Well, I am much more open to having marginally relaxed voting policies (as it pertains to what we are talking about) on the municipal level, relative to the provincial and federal level. While I should clean the following comment up a tad to make it more readable/direct, it is one of the first comments I made in this thread, and I mostly stand by it for all levels of government (word for word paste here):

            “For example, if the author were to argue that W Toronto resident holding X Canada passport/visa class with Y past tax month contributions and Z evidence proving continued ties to Toronto in the future (ie job/property/etc), I think most people would support opening the vote to this group.”

            I am pretty sure a passport implies citizenship so, yeah, that is one thing I would clean up here.

            Beyond that, my variable requirements defined in my statements above would be adjusted as we moved up the chain of increasingly important government institutions in which there is a vote, and there should always be room for exceptions to my overly simplistic and likely terrible formula.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            ‘If I, or most of the non-citizens I know, were given a USA federal vote I can assure you we would be voting for our own short term interests, not the long term interests of the USA. “Oh, this candidate supports building a highway between my home and work? Where do I vote for this seemingly swell individual?”.’

            And what is it about being a citizen that would stop your neighbour from voting for the same candidate (Swell Individual) for the same reason (a shiny new highway) and motivation (get to work faster)? What is it about being a citizen that makes their same vote exempt from the analysis you’d apply to the PR, or the contempt or accusations of selfishness and short-term thinking?

            The gist of the argument in favour of extending voting rights to permanent residents (or whatever division thereof) is that they are part of the city; they live and work and pay taxes and buy things here and have all the other connections a citizen has – in other words, their experience on the receiving end of municipal politics and policy is largely indistinguishable from that of a resident citizen, unlike that of a tourist or non-resident.

          • Testu

            Thanks, that’s what I was trying to imply with my argument. I couldn’t think of a way to say it outright without sounding combative.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            “…it would be sheer ignorance if one di not suggest that a non-citizen did not have some “affiliation” with a foreign agency.”

            I didn’t say “a” foreign agency. Agency in this sense is power, the ability to act. Phrasing it as Clark did as “foreign infiltration” implies said action of external origin.

            “…this does not imply that we should be creating additional blanket policies..”

            No it doesn’t imply that, but it does mean that the argument Clark used is bunk.

            “As it stands right now, we as Canadians feel that the negative consequences of policy-created-voting-incentives are reduced after one has to go through the citizenship hoops…”

            The flaw with this reasoning is that most people are simply born citizens. We do not have to jump through hoops, fill out paperwork, pay fees, take tests, or swear oaths to prove our loyalty. (And when we commit a crime it’s just a crime, but when someone from Far Away does it, it’s an immigration problem, it’s racism, it’s a matter of incompatible values, it’s political, it’s time for deportation.)

          • torontothegreat

            “The flaw with this reasoning is that most people are simply born citizens. We do not have to jump through hoops, fill out paperwork, pay fees, take tests, or swear oaths to prove our loyalty. (And when we commit a crime it’s just a crime, but when someone from Far Away does it, it’s an immigration problem, it’s racism, it’s a matter of incompatible values, it’s political, it’s time for deportation.)”

            You have made this argument over and over and over again whenever this discussion arises. Nobody ever debates you on it. Not because you’re right, because it’s such a fucking ridiculous break in logic that it’s not worth responding to in any meaningful way.

      • Joe Clark

        Canada doesn’t require unitary citizenship, so I don’t see how your point is relevant. Neither do you, if you’re honest.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          Citizenship doesn’t erase the possibility of “foreign infiltration” of our municipal political landscape.

          If you’re honest, you’d admit I’m right and that you’re an obnoxious twit. (Fun!)

          • Joe Clark

            A citizen isn’t a foreigner.

          • Testu

            Another stunning semantic coup de grâce. Don’t you ever get bored of this?

    • tomwest

      “You want to vote? Become a citizen. The rest of us did.”

      I’m a foreign national, but I am not a “non-resident” – I am a permanent resident here in Canada. I am so resident here in Canada that the country doesn’t allow me to vote there any more.

      • Joe Clark

        You know your options.

        • tomwest

          … actually, I don’t think I do. What are they, and how are they relevant to this discussion?

    • the_lemur

      It’s not about non-residents, though. It’s about non-citizens who are resident in this city.

      • Joe Clark

        Residency for voting purposes is national because citizenship is.

        • tomwest

          Wait, do you agree or disagree with the_lemur about this being about non-citizen residents?

        • the_lemur

          Except that Canadian citizens can’t vote in Toronto municipal elections just because they’re Canadian citizens, unless they’re either resident in Toronto or own property in Toronto.

        • the_lemur

          Unless you’re implying that permanent residents who are resident in Toronto and who are granted voting rights in Toronto will somehow find a way to vote even once they cease to be residents of Toronto again?

    • torontothegreat

      You frame the issue racial. you fail. go away.

      • Joe Clark

        I frame it in terms of citizenship, as it actually is framed in law. Let me be the first to remind white downtown “progressives,” and Desmond Cole, that not all immigrants to Canada are vizmins.

        • dsmithhfx

          “Vizmins”? Seriously?

          • the_lemur

            I believe that’s code for ‘I’m not a racist, because I also detest other kinds of white people’.

          • Joe Clark

            Yeah. Vizmins. Look it up. Like “Canuck,” it’s casual, not pejorative.

          • dsmithhfx

            Expensive cell plan?

  • OgtheDim

    The use of history in this regard is flawed, regardless of how good the cause is.

    I would say the reasons for giving British Commonwealth people the vote had more to do with jinogism, patriotism and a sense of Empire then anything else. Beyond the ramifications of the 1937 Westminster Act, it can be argued that Canadians didn’t think of themselves as distinct from the British Empire until the late 60′s. So, in essence, allowing British Commonwealth people to vote was just an extension of who we were then.

    Although I agree that the Empire voting allowance is an example of one past reason that non-citizens were offered the vote, its not really an applicable example to today. Historically, Canada did a lot of things due to considering itself part of the Empire. We are no longer that.

    If you want to argue that PR’s are an extension of who we are now, then you could use the historical reference. However, doing so without the context of today is a poor understanding of the role of history in deciding what should be done today.

    • Lee Zamparo

      The historical argument is strictly to counter the claim that “non-citizens have never been allowed to vote before, why start now”? As for the context of today, we have more PRs than ever before, and they become a part of the community and fabric of our municipality long before they become citizens. I don’t think the current situation, where 15 percent of the voting age population barred from even the lowest level of democratic participation, is healthy for Canadian politics.

      If we really believe in democracy, and in representational government, then we should honour those who show a commitment to residing in Canada with a say in who represents their ward, and who leads their city.

      • dsmithhfx

        [Og is a historicologist historicognaton guy who knows stuff]

      • OgtheDim

        Is anybody actually arguing against this based on “well we haven’t done it before”?

        Haven’t heard that once.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          Doesn’t the pro status quo argument (or “what we’ve done before” in this case) imply continuity is the only relevant precedent?

          • Lee Zamparo

            @OgtheDim:disqus: this is the argument my post was driving towards.

  • the_lemur

    The sad irony is that some of the born Canadians complaining the loudest about the idea of permanent resident voting are originally from well outside the city and are full-on xenophobes even regarding the rest of the province.

  • Jacob

    It makes sense for municipal elections, since local governments don’t dabble in laws any bigger than littering and bag fees. Provincial and Federal, on the other hand, no.

    • dsmithhfx

      “local governments don’t dabble in laws any bigger than littering and bag fees”

      You forgot posters, grafitti, potholes, football and magnets.

      • tomwest

        … and zoning, saying what you can build, and what can be built by you. Also roads, transit, social housing, emergency services.

        Also, local governments have expropriation powers.

        • torontothegreat


  • andrew97

    “What exactly is it about citizenship that signals commitment? Do you think of citizenship as a zero-sum game”

    Say what? Acquiring Canadian citizenship is not easy. And some jurisdictions do not recognize dual citizenship, and revoke it if you acquire citizenship somewhere else. So citizenship is the strongest signal of commitment that you can make under immigration law.

    Whether you give the vote to “citizens” or “permanent residents”, born citizens get to vote either way. I could parody the proponents’ argument as follows: The system is already broken because born citizens can vote, so who cares how committed anybody else is.

  • malna

    This is a pretty good article, and certainly better than 95%+
    articles I would consider reading on most Toronto based publications.

    However, as someone that has been a “temporary” resident in America with countless “permanent” family members and friends, I imagine @ Elle Em is also quite familiar with the various categories of resident status in both Canada and America.

    I think we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing “permanent” about all classes of non citizen “permanent” passport/visa types, in both America and Canada.

    Thus, lumping all “permanent” residents into the same category here does not help us create better voting policies, and certainly doesn’t help us address any undesirable voting incentives that might arise out of lumping all “permanent” residents together.

    For example, if the author were to argue that W Toronto resident holding X passport/visa class with Y past tax month contributions and Z evidence proving continued ties to Toronto in the future (ie job/property/etc), I think most people would support opening the vote to this group.

    Based on your two line description of yourself, you would likely fall in this category and have a vote.

    • tomwest

      “I think we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing “permanent” about all classes of non citizen “permanent” passport/visa types, in both America and Canada.”
      I can’t agree with that!
      I don’t think you know there is a immigration category called “Permanent Resident”. It is permanent, unless you leave Canada for too long.

      • malna

        This almost completely ignores the reality of the situation.

        There are so many types of visa and resident status I don’t even know where to begin, for every nation ever.

        The fact that the author and many in this thread (myself included) have lumped all these categories into something called “permanent residents” does not reflect anything resembling truth. Hence why I made the joke: “I think we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing “permanent”
        about all classes of non citizen “permanent” passport/visa types.”

        Why do you think long term visas and Canadian Green Cards actually imply “permanent”?

        Most “Permanent Residents” in any country are brought in by a particular employer. There are no indefinite guarantees made by any employer, and if that employer leaves (or the project dies out after 4-8 years, or some other very reasonable circumstance that could hypothetically take place) the chances of that “permanent resident” leaving are pretty significant. After all, the employer (in most cases) needed to prove to the Canadian government that it could not find a Canadian Citizen with the necessary skillset and was thus forced to bring in a Permanent Resident. There are no guarantees a different employer in Canada needs that same skillset, nor that a different Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident hasn’t acquired a competitive skillset during the aforementioned Permanent Resident’s stay if there is a need.

        Above and beyond that it is incredibly easy to take advantage of permanent resident status (as you allude to without recognizing the consequences), like that of a green card. All you really need to do is return to Canada once every six months without telling the border guard that you no longer live/work in Canada.

        Just because a “permanent resident” has not forfeited their papers does not mean we should be creating blanket policies to hand a vote to every permanent resident, ever.

        • vampchick21

          They used to call Pemanent Residents “Landed Immigrants”. Does that help? And I’m sure that should they pass this, then they would be intelligent enough to specify which of the classifications is to actually qualify to vote in municipal elections.

        • tomwest

          I don’t understand your “lumping” comment. There is just one “permament resident” visa. You can get in three differenty ways – family, economic (job-related), and living here for three years as a non-student – but it’s the same visa once you get it. If you’re coming here to work, you have to go down the “economic” option, which takes 1-2 years. (Source: CIC’s website). So it’s not something you can casually get for employment purposes.

          As for the fact that those with PR status may choose to move abroad and keep their PR status by visiting every few months… but then they wouldn’t have a Canadian address, and hence couldn’t even register to vote! (Also, if they aren’t living here, they probably won’t be around on election day, so can’t vote anyways…)

  • malna

    “making a “citizenship commitment” to one jurisdiction entails an abandonment of “commitment” to another jurisdiction?”

    Thankfully in most (all?) of Canada, we do not force our citizens to make this choice. Other countries do, and we have taken the lead on this front (see USA). No rational or non-fear-mongering person would suggest what you have suggested here.

    “If you think that citizenship needs to be earned, consider all the
    people who were born into citizenship – having “earned” it through no
    effort or conscious decision of their own, merely having had it endowed
    upon them by sheer virtue of having been born within certain borders.”

    While we can debate the philosophies of whether or not country borders should exist in the first place, the fact of the matter is that they do. Thus, while they do, it would probably be ignorant for us as Canadians and Torontonians to avoid optimal policy under these conditions.

    Because borders are in fact a very real thing that we deal with in society, those born into citizenship absolutely should be given a vote, and their pre-existing endowments (the effort of the parents that gave birth to said child within Canada’s jurisdiction) should absolutely be enough of a criteria to grant said individual the vote.

    As it stands today, I am pretty sure we grant citizenship to newborns in a Canadian jurisdiction even if this baby’s parents are not Canadian citizens? If we were to follow through with what your suggestions imply, this would no longer be the case. While I can agree that there should be exceptions in this case and that we should not increase incentives for individuals to do this, I think we can mostly agree that this is an okay policy.

  • torontothegreat

    “what exactly is it about citizenship that signals commitment?”

    Let’s start with, I can’t on a whim, buy a plane ticket and go back to being a citizen in another country for 100 Alex.

    • OgtheDim

      I know people that are more committed to the local and national politics of where they came from then to Canada and Toronto. And they are citizens of Canada.

      Citizenship may imply committment, but it does not guarantee it.

      • torontothegreat

        Engaged and interested are not equal to an agreement (commitment).

        Regardless. The question was “what exactly is it about citizenship that signals commitment?”

        Your anecdote about people you may or may not know is totally irrelevant to that context.

        PS: Commitment doesn’t mean “vote” or “involved” in politics” – you’re missing the point. Commitment would mean that you’re so interested and involved in local and national politics that you’re willing to “commit” by becoming a citizen – so that you can’t change your mind tomorrow and get on a plane on a whim and leave to be a citizen from a previous commitment.

        • Testu

          “so that you can’t change your mind tomorrow and get on a plane on a whim and leave to be a citizen from a previous commitment.” – Yes, you can.

          New Canadian citizens are not forced to renounce their original citizenship.

          • torontothegreat

            “New Canadian citizens are not forced to renounce their original citizenship.”

            The law itself sanitizes the original citizenship. By taking oath you are indirectly renouncing your previous citizenship. Otherwise you have what is called dual citizenship.

            If you are not a Canadian citizen and you return to your homeland for an extended period of time, you can’t just come back to Canada without going through the whole process again. However you CAN leave Canada on a “whim” to return to your homeland. My original point still stands.

          • Testu

            “The law itself sanitizes the original citizenship. By taking oath you are indirectly renouncing your previous citizenship.”

            No, it doesn’t. This is not even remotely true.

            You can renounce the citizenship of your original country but you are not forced to, nor is it in any way implied by taking the oath of citizenship. The only thing that can restrict you from keeping your original citizenship is if dual-citizenship is not allowed by the country you are originally a citizen of. In which case they handle the renunciation of your citizenship, not the Government of Canada.


            I have no idea what point you’re trying to make anymore though, or what it has to do with the subject of the article.

          • torontothegreat

            This is your first mention of dual-citizenship to me in this particular discussion. Very different thing altogether, to what my points have been. I truely hope you realize the difference between a rule and one of a few exceptions to that rule.

          • Testu

            What on earth are you talking about? Seriously, are you even following your own argument anymore?

            You claimed that becoming a Canadian citizen was making a commitment. You then tried to back that claim up by saying “so that you can’t change your mind tomorrow and get on a plane on a whim and leave to be a citizen from a previous commitment.” and “The law itself sanitizes the original citizenship. By taking oath you are indirectly renouncing your previous citizenship.”. Neither of those statements are true.

            Becoming a Canadian citizen does not in any way, shape, or form strip you of your original citizenship. Period. It does not.

            You don’t apply to become a dual-citizen or something, your original citizenship does not go away unless you explicitly go to the consulate of the country you are originally from and renounce the citizenship. Even if they don’t recognize dual-citizenship (something like 90 countries do) you are not obligated to go to them and renounce your citizenship, however they will not recognize your Canadian citizenship as valid if you return to their country.

          • the_lemur

            You can also acquire a second citizenship in addition to your original Canadian citizenship; I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that your commitment to Canada or involvement in politics at any level thereby declines to 50%.

          • torontothegreat

            I actually didn’t realize the law had changed more recently then when I went through the citizenship process. My apologies.

            My point regarding dual-citizenship is moot, but my opinion about voting & citizenship isn’t altered by this discovery.

          • the_lemur

            I’ve been reading these comments assuming that you were a Canadian citizen, and a Canadian citizen only, from the beginning, and thereby without a place to go back to and resume citizenship of.
            So what was your original citizenship that you were required to renounce, or which you lost by default?

          • Testu

            Ah, no problem.

            Regarding your opinion about voting and citizenship, since Canadian citizenship is no longer as much of a commitment to Canada as it was in the past, why is it a good reason to restrict municipal voting rights to Toronto residents that have a Canadian citizenship?

        • OgtheDim

          Your definition of commitment is not as universally accepted as you seem to believe.

          As the point of this discussion is voting rights, darn right political involvement is relevant.

          You indicate that only citizenship can confirm commitment to a place.

          I point out to you that this is patently not the case due to examples I know here in Toronto..

          You call those examples irrelevant and then repeat that commitment is only derived from citizenship.

          So your basic point is what?

          “I disagree so nanna nanna boo boo” ?!?!

          • torontothegreat

            “Your definition of commitment is not as universally accepted as you seem to believe.”

            We’re speaking english here right? We’re not in some kind of world where words are defined differently? Good! Now, go read the definition of commitment.

            “You indicate that only citizenship can confirm commitment to a place.”

            You’re reading too much into my statement. Citizenship is a very strong form of commitment (almost permanent).

            “As the point of this discussion is voting rights, darn right political involvement is relevant.”

            Your counter is that political engagement (which isn’t even forced on us “citizens”) and interest (again, not a pre-requisite for voting) is commitment enough to vote in matters that affect the actual citizens who have committed to not leaving Canada on a whim.

            If I live in Vancouver and am engaged, involved and interested in politics in Toronto – is that good enough for me to vote in Toronto municipal elections?

    • Testu

      Why not? We’ve already established that dual-citizenship is a thing that exists in Canada.

      I’m not saying that the citizenship process does not imply a commitment but you’ve picked a bad argument for why.

      • torontothegreat

        So we’re using citizenship as a counter argument to citizenship now?

        • Testu

          I’m not using citizenship as a counter argument for anything.

          You said “Let’s start with, I can’t on a whim, buy a plane ticket and go back to being a citizen in another country for 100 Alex.” This is factually incorrect. In fact, you can on a whim, buy a plane ticket and go back to being a citizen in another country. You can even remain a Canadian citizen if you decide to do so.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            You can even relinguish your Canadian citizenship, become a citizen of another country, then renounce that and resume your Canadian citizenship.


            Commitment indeed.

          • torontothegreat

            So if citizenship is so plug’n’play (and easy to get as you seem to infer), why not just get citizenship if you want to vote?

    • OgtheDim

      BTW, for the sake of a municipal discussion of voting rights and commitment, a person can pack up and live somewhere else, without renouncing citizenship.

      A commitment to Toronto does not require citizenship.


      Mind you, the whole idea that commitment is necessary to be able to vote is a false measuring stick. We don’t means test people for how much they care.

      I personally believe that, baring municipal control over what constitutes status as a resident, that suffrage has to have a line drawn somewhere.

      The most convenient line is citizen. It is flawed. But, baring control over who lives here, it is, unfortunately, IMHO, the best.

      So, although I disagree with many of the more jingoistic reasons as to why citizenship should be the line, I do believe it is the only applicable line.

      • Testu

        Why shouldn’t residency suffice?

        Maybe I’m just unimaginative or insufficiently cynical, but I can’t think of a scenario where giving all residents (not just Permanent Resident status immigrants) of the city the ability to vote for their ward representative would have a negative outcome.

        Every argument against giving Permanent Residents a municipal vote has implied that there would be some kind of negative consequence to doing so. No one has managed to come up with an explanation of what that negative consequence could be.

        • torontothegreat

          Insert slippery slope argument here

          • Testu

            Surprisingly, no one has bothered to even argue that one. It seems no one has anything to say when the discussion is framed as giving residents of the city the right to vote in municipal elections.

            Every argument against giving PRs voting rights that has even acknowledged the begged question of what negative outcomes has been referring to Provincial or Federal voting rights.

    • Desmond Cole

      First of all. thank you everyone for all the comments!

      A couple of helpful facts to enrich the discussion:

      1) Canada has the highest naturalization rate on earth. Over 80% of permanent residents become citizens. Most of those who don’t are worried about losing home citizenship rights for themselves, their spouses, or their children. Most countries envy this kind of commitment (call it “loyalty” if you like, but I think “commitment” is a more appropriate term). It’s called permanent residency for a reason, and comparisons to temporary visas or vacations are inappropriate.

      2) Non-citizen voting in local elections occurs in at least 26
      countries around the world, including the United States, England,
      Australia, Argentina, Ireland, and the Netherlands

      3) Lots of folks, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, argue that if you want to deny someone the vote, you need a good reason. Their arguments are here:

      • OgtheDim

        You’ve talked so much on the themes of individual human rights that the discussion has become focused on individuals and personalisations (thus the ramblings in council of a person like Del Grande talking about his parents). You havn’t really articulated well what binds Torontonians together, both PR’s and others, that should make people want to do things together politically. So we end up with discussions of obligations and commitment on the personal level without a sense of what it means to be a Torontonian.

        In essence, what we have is a theory discussion, that invites passion about the the current barrier, and deflects the conversation from developing passion about what this city could do if united in political opportunities, like you would prefer.

        Articulate the potential well, and then the barriers to involvement implicit in the inability to vote will fall as it becomes obvious to all that of course, Pr’s should be able to vote as it is better for the city.

        But, lacking that, and discussing it only in terms of this is what is done in other places and it should be because its the right thing, the conversation will get side tracked.

        People are united behind a right when they believe it will help society as a whole.

        Focus a bit more on that, and you will gain more support then you currently have (and please do not assume that council support = support around the city – there are a LOT of people like me, progressive on social issues, who are very skeptical of this idea)

        • Desmond Cole

          Your points here are well taken.

          I take for granted, wrongly perhaps, that in any democratic scenario (city council, parent council, student council president, neighbourhood association), the system is most effective when all stakeholders are identified and given an equal say. Many folks seem to throw that out the window with this discussion. They want me to reinvent the wheel, which I admit is not my strength.

          So let me try this. You and I are neighbours. We both send out kids to Happy Time Public School. The law says we must send our kids to school. The law says we must pay taxes to the school. You are allowed to choose the person that makes decisions about your kids’ education, and I am not.

          Not letting me choose, without a very good reason, seems to me to be first and foremost an issue of fairness. If you let me vote, maybe I will vote for a representative you dislike, or whose policies you think are bad for your kids’ education. But that’s not really the point, is it?

          I don’t have any data to prove that cities where permanent resident voting is allowed have higher voter turnout, or better politicians, or better policies, or a higher Gross Municipal Happiness index score. I do know that excluding all these folks from decision-making without a good reason breeds disengagement, division, resentment, and an imbalance of power. And that is indeed the history of our arbitrarily exclusive voting regimes.

          I also know that people feel good when they are asked to participate in things that affect them. I want people to feel good about living in Toronto. This is one of many ways to do that. And those who refuse to take this for granted seem to be asking “how does this help me?” rather than “how does this help everyone?”

          Giving people direct responsibility in shaping their environment and their future is healthy. I think this is more psychology than public policy, but whatever it is, it seems self-evident. If the children of non-citizens were not allowed to vote for student council, we could make arguments about how letting them participate would make school a better place, but the first thing to point out would be that the exclusion is simply unfair, no?

          So I lead with that, and I use history to bolster my point because people’s biggest reason for opposing this is that they think it dishonours history and tradition, and I must respond to that. What I really want to ask people is, “why should your neighbour, whose dreams and concerns are so clearly your own, be excluded?” But I can’t, because the onus to prove that is somehow on me.

          Imma shut up now, but I just want to point out that a great many reasonable people are swayed by the arguments I’ve presented here. You seem not to credit my arguments about the nature of cities as special, evolving and dynamic places in Canada. Who should guide the course of cities? Should it be citizens of Canada, even when 50% of those in our city are not born here?

          At some point, people have to ask THEMSELVES why they are so afraid and skeptical of this idea, instead of asking me why inclusion is good for society. I’m trying to help people get there in the best way I know how. I ultimately want people like you to question your own skepticism, instead of asking me to come remove it from your heart. One love.

      • Lee Zamparo

        Desmond, thanks for this. Can you pass along a reference for statistics on the ratio of permanent residents that become citizens? It would be helpful.

  • ochssocial

    It seems strange that individuals who pay taxes and are affected by policy, don’t have a say.

  • Joe Clark

    By your logic, the “born-Canadians” whom “cannot say” are “strong contributors to their community” should be stripped of their voting rights because you, as self-styled arbiter, disapprove of them.

    Wouldn’t you agree that compulsory voting would clear up that whole problem? Hint: Only citizens could vote.

    • the_lemur

      Whom “cannot say”?
      In what out-of-town backwater is that grammatical?

  • the_lemur

    I can speak to the point you raise in your second paragraph. The first time I voted in a Canadian election of any kind, I was a Canadian citizen (and a citizen of no other country) merely for having been born in Canada. I was marginally employed, owned no property and paid almost nothing in taxes; furthermore I had no other particular previous obligation or ties to Canada to speak of.
    I had also spent 2/3 of my life outside Canada until then. So much for commitment. I had lived elsewhere without any entitlement to vote and with virtually no authorization to work, but was still subject to several levels of government. So where did I have a greater entitlement to be represented?