Bill C-76 received royal assent earlier this month. Among many of its changes was one modifying the voting rights of non-resident Canadians. Specifically, the bill:
- Removed the requirement that non-resident Canadians could only vote if they’d been out of the country for five consecutive years or less
- Removed the requirement that non-resident Canadians had to affirm – in a statement – that they intended to return to Canada
I strongly disagree with this change.
Voting is not an inalienable right. You should only be allowed to vote if you are a citizen and your day-to-day life is affected by the government(s) you’re voting for. Non-residents fail the second test. Why should their priorities be considered while designing policies for those who actually live in a jurisdiction and feel the effects of those policies? And, why should we extend the franchise to non-residents? After all, by living outside of Canada for over five years they’ve showed that they aren’t invested in the country – at least for now, at least not when it comes to its present, day-to-day governance.
I feel the previous rules were appropriate: it allowed non-residents to vote for a single, additional federal election cycle. After that, if you wanted to regain your franchise you had the responsibility to demonstrate your commitment to Canada in a tangible, physical way: by returning here, living here, and living through the effect of the policies you voted in place.