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It's time to afford non-citizens some voting rights in Canada

scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

Admittedly, it's a provocative proposition: isn't the right to vote one of the keystone and defining elements of citizenship? Certainly, the act of casting a vote for an elected official or on a topic put to the public is one of the most tangible displays of citizenship, but of course citizenship means much more than just that.  For example, one additional privilege that citizens have over permanent residents or visitors is the right to entry and habitation in Canada.  Permanent residents and visitors get to stay here as long as the government says that they may.  So, voting is an important part of citizenship, but not the be-all and end-all of it.

Earlier this week (on November 16th) I filed a lawsuit in the BC Supreme Court seeking declarations that sections of the Vancouver Charter and the School Act that prohibited non-Canadian citizens from being eligible to vote or run in municipal elections was contrary to the Charter.  I claimed that these provisions were discriminatory and infringed expression and could not be justified in a free and democratic society.

You can read my court pleadings here, and see some of the local media accounts of this here, here, and here (the last is a radio interview on CBC Early Edition starting at 1:06:40).

As for some of my background, I am an American citizen who came to Vancouver in late 2006 to study law at UBC.  In mid-2007 I began the process of applying for permanent residency status.  It took me two-and-a-half years to get it, but I became a PR in early 2010.  I am not yet eligible to apply for citizenship, and when I do apply in spring of next year, it will take me another year to get it.  In all, I will have been a resident of Vancouver for over six years before becoming a citizen and will have had to sit out of two, maybe three municipal elections.  I am currently a social-justice lawyer and married to a Canadian citizen.

I brought my claim on behalf of myself and the 74,000 non-citizens who live in Vancouver who are excluded from voting in this most local level of government.  But, every major city in Canada has a large population of immigrant non-citizens.  In Vancouver, it's 13% of our population; in Toronto it's 15%.  In each of these citiies, it's a huge number of people who are being excluded from partaking in this activity.  In all, about 1.5 million people in Canada fall into this non-citizen category and are excluded from voting in any election.

When I first brought my claim and it was reported, I received a lot of feedback - probably equally supportive (from both citizens and non-citizens) and non-supportive.  Many people said that voting was a right protected by the Charter and reserved for Canadian citizens only.  It is true that voting in provincial and federal elections is guaranteed to Canadian citizens under s.3 of the Charter.  That, actually, is a floor and not a ceiling.  Up to 1970, British Subjects from 54 different countries could vote in all Canadian elections.  As late as 2003, Nova Scotia allowed these non-citizens the right to vote in its provincial elections.  There is nothing wrong with or preventing the government from raising the ceiling. 

But, it may surprise you to hear that no one - citizen or non-citizen - has a right to vote in a municipal election.  Municipalities are not constitutional entities. They are created by ordinary statutes and only have the powers that are granted to them by the provincial legislature.  In this case, the statues confer the privilege of voting and running for office only to citizens.  In our elections, the votes are for the Mayor, City Councillors, School Trustees, and Park Board.  From a legal perspective, the province could have decided that these offices were to be appointed or selected randomly from the phone book and both of those options would have been within their power to do.

My argument is grounded in the fact that municipal government is very different than provincial and federal government (although, I would gladly argue in a different claim that the bar of citizenship is too stringent for voting in provincial elections as well).  Municipal government is all about services.  It's about how the city delivers water to your door, how much property tax you pay, how your property is zoned, how your schools are run, streets built, parks cared for, libraries stocked, rec centres, etc.  Non-citizens and citizens alike who are residents of a municipality such as Vancouver both use and pay for these services equally, yet only Citizens get a say in how they are run.  In this last municipal election yesterday (which - had a record number of voters - yet only drew about 35% of the eligible voters), voters were also asked to approve a $180 million debt package for the City that we all will be paying for.

In Vancouver and other municipalities in BC, there is also a provision that non-resident property owners (citizens) can have a vote in our elections.  So, if the person who owns the house  an immigrant lives in lived abroad, he would get gets a vote for School Trustee, but the non-citizen who lives and works here and has a kid in school (who actually might be a citizen herself), cannot vote. 

Non-citizen voting is not something unheard of.  About 40 countries around the world - including 17 countries in Europe - allow for some form of non-citizen voting.  In many cases, non-citizens only have to live in a place for a year to get the full franchise of voting.  What these experiences have shown is that non-citizen voting increases the partipation and integration of immigrants into society.  Non-citizens who were allowed to vote progressed on the path to citizenship faster than in places without voting (that is very understandable if you imagine that the taste of participation in a democracy empowers people to imagine their participation on a broader level and encourages them to take the necessary steps).  It's a win-win to use a cliched expression.

Whether I win this case or not will come down to the province being able to justify where they drew the line in this circumstance.  I am not opposed to some line being drawn somewhere for eligibility in a municipal election, but I say that "citizenship" is too restrictive for the nature of the election and muncipal government and the large number of people being affected.  It makes sense to revisit this outdated restriction for both policy and legal reasons.  If we want immigrants to participate in our society, it makes sense to get them involved early on at the most basic level and for things that affect them directly and for which they certainly have an opinion.

Scott Bernstein

right2vote@redcedarlaw.com


Comments

Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Just wondering if you're working with or being supported by some of the other organizations that have been pursuing this goal (though maybe not through a court challenge)?

 


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

@Unionist - thank you for that link.  I have had some communication with the I Vote Toronto people and a few academics who have supported this notion, but I am looking to connect more widely.  People can feel free to contact me at right2vote@redcedarlaw.com if they want to chat or have some feedback.

As far as I know, there has never been a Charter challenge on this before.  While the declaration I am seeking will only apply to Vancouver proper, I am hopeful that a win will encourage governments to re-examine their own statutes (in greater BC, the eligibility requirements are the same as for Vancouver, but under a different statute), or empower individuals to bring their own claims if the government won't take steps.  On the slim chance that this case heads to the Supreme Court of Canada, I think every province will be paying attention.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

Not a chance.   One person one vote is central to any meaningful democracy. 


Northern Shoveler
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Joined: Feb 17 2011

I would have no problem with changing the municipal franchise to one based on residency requirements.  I would think a minimum of three years of BC residency for non-citizens would be fair and if after that the residency requirements for any given municipality are met then those people should have a vote.

I do not think that property owners who are not citizens should be given a vote. In municipal elections one person could legally vote in every municipality in the province if one owned land in everyone. In the Lower Mainland there are many land owners with the right to vote in more than one municipality. Currently if I am not mistaken the Act requires citizenship as a precondition to anyone voting.

So Scott what does your Charter challenge propose as proper residency requirements?  Currently there is a 6 months residency requirement in BC for Canadian citizens to vote but only a 1 month requirement for moving in to a municipality if one meets the other two requirements. 


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

@Erik Redburn - I only want one vote.  As it stands, for many people it's one person, no votes.

 

@Northern Shoveler - I don't exactly say, but I am guessing the judge will ask that at some point.  Here's what I can say:  citizenship is too stringent, but 30 days or 6 months may not be long enough.  In some other countries that have non-citizen voting, a year is sufficent.  I would argue that is fine here for municipal elections.  Three years, as you suggest, seems a bit burdensome for voting about water, garbage collection and street building.  Why set the line there?  I think the outcome should reflect that it is a GOOD thing to get people involved in the democracy, but that can be weighed against the fact that newcomers "fresh off the boat" would have to spend a little time in Canada to understand how things work before being able to cast a meaninful vote.  To me, long waiting periods seem to be based on a fear that something bad is going to happen if people are allowed to vote too soon.  In reality, that's just not borne out by the experiences of other countries.

As for the absent property holders having a vote issue - I have problems with that as well, but I have no standing to challenge that provision in court.  Maybe someone else would like to raise that issue as a campaign?


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

You may SAY you 'only want one vote' dude, but if we allow those who are not even CITIZENS to vote here then we are in fact giving some an extra voice.  Since were already overly influejced by opur more populous neighbour then this could only make things worse.  In ract any judge who thinks this could be remotely constituional in ANY nation-state should be summarly tossed out on his or her ass.   I am open to ways to expedite our immigration process, but this aint the way to go about irt.


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

@Erik - sorry, pal, I don't really understand your argument here.  How does giving someone who lives in a city a voice about that city's government become giving some an "extra voice"?  Because I live here and not in the states, I don't get to vote there either.  I don't see this as an issue of influence by the US either.  Okay - *I'm* American, but most of the 74000 Vancouverites who would be affected by this aren't.  And, seriously, I don't see how anything that happens in our municipal politics is of very much interest to people in the US.  Americans in the US hardly care at all about what goes on in Canada generally.  Are you thinking cultural influence?  If so, then I'm probably more Canadian at this point than American, as I came over here because my values more accorded with Canada than the US (or so I imagined - it was the Bush years...)

As I explained in my original post, there's no constitutional right to a municipal vote.  Denying the privilege to non-citizens is just something that the province decided back in the 1950s when the statute was written.  What makes it unconstitutional, IMO, is that the province gave it to you and not to me and don't have a good reason for doing that.

I've been putting this argument out to the world for a couple of weeks now, and I have yet to hear anyone with a good reason for why citizenship should be the line in this case.  Please, someone, tell me why it is necessary to not let me vote in my civic election.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

If theres no constituional right to a vote municipally then that kind of undermines your own case too.  But of course municipalties are part of our democratic govcernence therefore they have to fall under the same basic rules as other levels of govrnment in a democracy.   I repeat, giving 'non-citizens' a vote here is unfair to others.   Not a right that American authorities are likley to give us (not that it would be a wise decision for us even then) in return.   Whether you can or do vote in other jurisdictions is secondary (which you can by most countries laws, as offshore citizens) to the fact you aren't yet a citizen yourself, are not bound by the same obligations as other taxpayers and therefore should not be given the same rights and privileges.  At least not regarding the democratic franchise.  Certain legal protections must of course be upheld for everyone.   Allowing this on any level could set a very dangerous precedence for others.


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

Well, it's not tit-for-tat with America that's the issue, but since you brought the point up actually non-citizens can vote in some jurisdictions in the states after a period of residency.  In my home town of Chicago, for instance, non-citizens can vote for School Trustees.  A better comparison might be to the UK, where Canadians who are permanent residents there can vote in all of their elections, but UK citizens here don't get the reciprocal right.

There are no "basic rules" of a democracy, as you suggest.  Who's in and who's out of the category of "people allowed to vote" changes.  See my OP for examples of non-citizen voting in Canada across the country up to 1970 and in Nova Scotia until 2003.

I'm trying to think of what obligations you have in Canada that I am not bound to as well.  I don't think there are any.  There's no draft (and besides, I am a bit too old to serve).  I pay the same taxes.  As far as the municipality is concerned, I am under the exact same obligations as any other resident.  In fact, voters approved $180 million in borrowing yesterday that I will have an obligation of underwriting through my taxes as long as I am here.  But, as a non-citizen I'm not afforded certain privileges that you are - such as preferential government jobs or the unrestricted right to enter and live in Canada.

I'm not claiming a constitutional right to vote in the municipal election, only that it's unconstitutional for the government to discriminate against me when it hands out privileges.  Those are two different things, Erik.

 


Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011
Scotbern, i have a few honest questions, honest, because I don't know the answers. Are non citizens covered my provincial health insurance? Are they subject to jury duty? Probably others as well, I had never wondered about it until you started the thread.

Fidel
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Joined: Apr 29 2004

Hell, there are millions  of Canadian citizens whose votes are not counted on election day. One Canadian should equal one vote. But sadly, it's just not the case in our Northern Puerto Rico.

Our worst Past the Post system is as mathematically absurd as it is unconstitutional. First past the post is electoral fraud!


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

@Glenl - yes, anyone who is a resident in BC has to be covered under provincial health care (even on a student visa), but you have to pay the monthly fee as well.  I didn't know about the jury duty question (as a lawyer, I can't serve on one citizen or not), so I looked it up.  It seems that only citizens are called as jurors, as jurors are selected from voter registration lists.

 


Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011
Not to be a pest, and if I am please ignore me: I gather you have to file and pay US taxes on your income in Canada. My understanding of the US-Canada tax treaty is you deduct the tax paid from one to the other. Do you file US first and claim the taxes paid to Canada or vice-versa?

Freedom 55
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Joined: Mar 14 2010

 

In case you missed it...

Rebecca West wrote:

Fidel, your use of "Northern Puerto Rico" and "loco Jorge de" ... etc., aren't appropriate and are offensive and insulting.  Just don't.

 


MegB
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Joined: Nov 28 2001

Fidel wrote:

Hell, there are millions  of Canadian citizens whose votes are not counted on election day. One Canadian should equal one vote. But sadly, it's just not the case in our Northern Puerto Rico.

Our worst Past the Post system is as mathematically absurd as it is unconstitutional. First past the post is electoral fraud!

Fidel, you've been asked, repeatedly, not to use the term "Northern Puerto Rico" and have had it explained why it is offensive.  Here's a day off to think about why you continually offend.


DaveW
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Joined: Dec 24 2008

in Switzerland, non-citizens can vote after certain residency requirements are met, in local elections ...

as for Fidel, I have also long concluded that he has never visited Puerto Rico, whose net emigration in recent decades has ceased owing to increasing incomes on the island;

so even as a slur , it rings false...


scottbern
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Joined: Nov 20 2011

@ Glenl - you're definitely not a pest.  I'm always happy to entertain reasonable questions.  You're right that US citizens have to pay US taxes on foreign-earned income.  I read recently that the US government is going to begin cracking down on this more agressively and as a result many people with dual citizenship are revoking their US citizenship.  As far as I know, US is the only major country to have this practice (greedy bastards!).

Canadian taxes go first to my knowledge.  Generally, if you earn less than a certain amount (I think it's $91,500), you don't owe any US taxes.  If you make more than that and pay Canadian taxes, you can deduct what you pay in Canada as a US tax credit.


Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011
@scottbern Thanks, and welcome to Canada, albeit belatedly.

Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011

For what it's worth I agree that residency should be the determing factor in eligibility to vote in municipal elections, including school boards and the like. I have to give the issue more thought with regard to provincial and federal elections. I can see a rational for either yes or no in thoses cases and I understand that is not what you are challenging at this time. Nationalism, a form of tribalism, creates more problems than it solves in many cases.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

Ok,  Nationalism is a dangerous thing Glenl but a little bit is necessary, especially when dealing with nationalists from other countries  Canada could use more of it now IMO, though maybe we could use the word patriotism instead -patriotism in the more positive sense.  NOt a popular term anymore outside the far right but one which should be reclaimed on the left.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

scottbern wrote:

@ Glenl - you're definitely not a pest.  I'm always happy to entertain reasonable questions.  You're right that US citizens have to pay US taxes on foreign-earned income.  I read recently that the US government is going to begin cracking down on this more agressively and as a result many people with dual citizenship are revoking their US citizenship.  As far as I know, US is the only major country to have this practice (greedy bastards!).

Canadian taxes go first to my knowledge.  Generally, if you earn less than a certain amount (I think it's $91,500), you don't owe any US taxes.  If you make more than that and pay Canadian taxes, you can deduct what you pay in Canada as a US tax credit.

 

I think the US demanding its offshore citizens to pay something on incomes over 91 Gs is actually quite reasonable.  I think thats one idea we could actually borrow from them, now that our tax regime is in someways even more lax than their's, but one Americanism I doubrt our government will be so eager for.   I was never hot on the idea of dual citizenship anyhow, except perhaps in a few exceptional cases, not past the age of 21, and all the snowbirds living down south to avoid taxes here then claiming a right to our pensions and public healthcare get no symnpathy from me at all.


Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011
I'm not against nationalism or patriotism. I find it difficult taking pride in something that's an accident of birth. I am lucky to be Canadian but I didn't do anything to deserve it. I believe being human is more important than being Canadian. My comment at the end of my post was admittedly gratuitous. Sorry if it was a distraction to the thread topic.

Glenl
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Joined: Jun 22 2011
With respect to snowbirds, and I've never been one, I think they pay full income taxes in Canada. They obviously miss out on PST and GST while they are away but otherwise are paid up I believe.

Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

scottbern wrote:

Well, it's not tit-for-tat with America that's the issue, but since you brought the point up actually non-citizens can vote in some jurisdictions in the states after a period of residency.  In my home town of Chicago, for instance, non-citizens can vote for School Trustees.  A better comparison might be to the UK, where Canadians who are permanent residents there can vote in all of their elections, but UK citizens here don't get the reciprocal right.

Nor should they.  If a few other jurisdictions decide to allow it thats their problem, but a handful of exceptions don't make it right IMO, in either sense of the word.

Quote:

There are no "basic rules" of a democracy, as you suggest.  Who's in and who's out of the category of "people allowed to vote" changes.  See my OP for examples of non-citizen voting in Canada across the country up to 1970 and in Nova Scotia until 2003.

 

Actually there are, but many ways to play them.  And many ways to game them as well.   Living in a democracy means always being vigilant.   IMO, not allowing people who have the right to vote in other countries to vote in ours as WELL should be one, even if a few others don't see it that way.  However you spin it its allowing some people more rights than others.  Rights I don't have.  If you want to vote on how your taxes paid here are allocated then you can always aply for citizenship.  Conversely, if you don't like how things are done here you have other options as well.

 

Quote:

I'm trying to think of what obligations you have in Canada that I am not bound to as well.  I don't think there are any.  There's no draft (and besides, I am a bit too old to serve).  I pay the same taxes.  As far as the municipality is concerned, I am under the exact same obligations as any other resident.  In fact, voters approved $180 million in borrowing yesterday that I will have an obligation of underwriting through my taxes as long as I am here.  But, as a non-citizen I'm not afforded certain privileges that you are - such as preferential government jobs or the unrestricted right to enter and live in Canada.

You make a good looking argument, and I of course was simplifying, but your apparent sense of entitlement is getting me a little irritated now.  So you have to pay for somethings here that yopu may not approve of?  Well so do we all, even if we have a vote. Incuding foreign residents in the US.  If you don't like it you still have options, including some I may not have.  True that citizens have few statutory obligations to the state anymore(as it should be) beyond obeying the law and paying taxes but I do believe we still have certain obligations others don't.  We don't have a draft, good example, which is also good policy IMO, but if we Were attacked for example, its always possible the draft could be returned.  I'm too old to be called but I have family who might not be. We also have jury duty, as mentioned, and judging by your following post I suspect alot of CAnadins may indeed pay more in taxes than you do, though I doubt you'd admit it and I have no way of proving it.   Taxation has become very secretive up here among the wealthy.    Meanwhile though you get most of the basic services we do, even if you think its unfair you shouldn't be able to get preferential treatment for public service jobs and face some travel restrictions. I haven't dared cross the border since Bush got in.

Quote:

I'm not claiming a constitutional right to vote in the municipal election, only that it's unconstitutional for the government to discriminate against me when it hands out privileges.  Those are two different things, Erik.

 

Actually voting isn't a privilege but a right -albiet a limited one-- though as a foreign resident I don't know what your constitutional rights are Here exactly, that could be a worth investigating.   One right however is that most of us can only vote for leadres in our own country, fpr a variety of rather obvious reasons -though to digress again I wouldn't be entirely averse to some sort of international bodies becoming more directly democratic either.  Depends on how it was done, but OC it won't be.  

The 'differences' you allude to might prove entirely semantic if you somehow win this challenge.  The fact remains you are demnding extra voting rights in another nation you freely chose to enter, and how narrowly or broadly that could be interpretted if you win could indeed affect other levels of governments.  The sizeable 'allocations' you mentioned for example sound like more than a municipal issue to me, but of course your proprtion of it couldn't be much more than the average Canadians of similar income or networth.  Probably less if you also have property in the States.   

If I sound jingoistic here to others I will add that I'm all for easing unfair restictions on immigration, eve illegal refugees, and allowing non-citizens all the basic legal protections we have.  Unlike many in the States and elsewhere.  I do Not however want US citizens gaining even more influence over us in our own naive country, especially not in our post NAFTA world.  Not even without NAFTA, given the unchangeably skewed demographics between our two nations and the long unbroken history of US meddling in others backyard for noone elses benefit but their own.  Well, those who inherit ninety percent of their wealth and power that is, and claim an increasing amount of ours.  I hope this explains my 'nationalistic' militance on this abit better.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

Glenl wrote:
With respect to snowbirds, and I've never been one, I think they pay full income taxes in Canada. They obviously miss out on PST and GST while they are away but otherwise are paid up I believe.

 

Are you sure about that?  I've known a few snowbirds who admit they move south to avoid some of our 'high' taxes, as much as to enjoy the sun and surf.  I don't believe someone who only has to spend six month a year up here would pay the same as us overwintering mammals. I certainly don't believe theyd pay MOre, assuming the US does tax them something during their stay.


Erik Redburn
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Joined: Feb 26 2004

Glenl wrote:
I'm not against nationalism or patriotism. I find it difficult taking pride in something that's an accident of birth. I am lucky to be Canadian but I didn't do anything to deserve it. I believe being human is more important than being Canadian. My comment at the end of my post was admittedly gratuitous. Sorry if it was a distraction to the thread topic.

 

No need to apologise, you asked some good questions.  ANd of course youre right that none of us 'deserve' to be born here with our relative priveleges -just ask our First Nations who are still awaiting Our overdue rent- but I do believe all citizens should pay a fair share for the common good of whatever country they happen to be born into but shouldn't expect extra rights others don't get.    As much as some always do.


Caissa
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Joined: Jun 14 2006

Municipalities are the responsibility of the provinces under section 92 of the BNA/Constituion Act. I think that in and of itself would lead to voting in municipal elections being limited to Canadian citizens.


Lachine Scot
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Joined: Jun 19 2010

Erik Redburn wrote:

Actually voting isn't a privilege but a right -albiet a limited one-- though as a foreign resident I don't know what your constitutional rights are Here exactly, that could be a worth investigating.   One right however is that most of us can only vote for leadres in our own country, fpr a variety of rather obvious reasons -though to digress again I wouldn't be entirely averse to some sort of international bodies becoming more directly democratic either.  Depends on how it was done, but OC it won't be.  

The 'differences' you allude to might prove entirely semantic if you somehow win this challenge.  The fact remains you are demnding extra voting rights in another nation you freely chose to enter, and how narrowly or broadly that could be interpretted if you win could indeed affect other levels of governments.  The sizeable 'allocations' you mentioned for example sound like more than a municipal issue to me, but of course your proprtion of it couldn't be much more than the average Canadians of similar income or networth.  Probably less if you also have property in the States.   

If I sound jingoistic here to others I will add that I'm all for easing unfair restictions on immigration, eve illegal refugees, and allowing non-citizens all the basic legal protections we have.  Unlike many in the States and elsewhere.  I do Not however want US citizens gaining even more influence over us in our own naive country, especially not in our post NAFTA world.  Not even without NAFTA, given the unchangeably skewed demographics between our two nations and the long unbroken history of US meddling in others backyard for noone elses benefit but their own.  Well, those who inherit ninety percent of their wealth and power that is, and claim an increasing amount of ours.  I hope this explains my 'nationalistic' militance on this abit better.

Don't forget that this wouldn't only allow Americans to vote, but also plenty of Non-citizens from other countries. When I think of "permanent resident", people from the US are about the last thing that comes to mind, but rather the PRs I know from lots of Asian, European and Latin American countries.


Northern Shoveler
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Joined: Feb 17 2011

Erik Redburn wrote:

Glenl wrote:
With respect to snowbirds, and I've never been one, I think they pay full income taxes in Canada. They obviously miss out on PST and GST while they are away but otherwise are paid up I believe.

 

Are you sure about that?  I've known a few snowbirds who admit they move south to avoid some of our 'high' taxes, as much as to enjoy the sun and surf.  I don't believe someone who only has to spend six month a year up here would pay the same as us overwintering mammals. I certainly don't believe theyd pay MOre, assuming the US does tax them something during their stay.

They don't work so they don't pay taxes on wages.  They would only pay taxes on income from investments or their pensions.  I know snow birds on small pensions who winter in Arizona in a trailer park.  They don't talk about taxes but they do talk about the weather and THE LOW COST OF LIVING. 

The only way to they get to keep access to our the social services is if they maintain residency in Canada and thus their investment income becomes taxable.

That of course does not say anything about rich people who have moved their investments into off shore accounts hidden from the tax collector.  They are not called snow birds they are called tax FRAUDS.

After reading the above I have decided that I have to come down on the side of rights for people.  I am glad Eric that you agree with the SCC's view of the Charter. Anyone physically in Canada is accorded basic Charter rights because many sections use the word PERSON and not citizen.  I think it is clear that a province would have the right to drop the citizenship requirement from voting rules. However I think that even if a Charter challenge was successful and it was found to breach the rights of non-citizens then the SCC would okay it under Section 1 as a reasonable limit.

I think a longer residency requirement for non-citizens is appropriate but other than that I would be fine with long term residents getting a say in local government.   To offset any undo influence from the wrong "class" of resident maybe we could limit the votes of property owners to voting in one municipality, of their choosing, so that our democracy looks like a cooperative not a strata council.


pookie
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Joined: Dec 13 2005

Erik Redburn wrote:

Glenl wrote:
With respect to snowbirds, and I've never been one, I think they pay full income taxes in Canada. They obviously miss out on PST and GST while they are away but otherwise are paid up I believe.

 

Are you sure about that?  I've known a few snowbirds who admit they move south to avoid some of our 'high' taxes, as much as to enjoy the sun and surf.  I don't believe someone who only has to spend six month a year up here would pay the same as us overwintering mammals. I certainly don't believe theyd pay MOre, assuming the US does tax them something during their stay.

 

The only way for snowbirds to avoid paying taxes is to satisfy the extremely onerous reqiurements to be determined to no longer "reside" in Canada - including disposal of property.  Maybe those snowbirds you talked to are mere tax evaders, but 99 to 1 they owe Canadian taxes.


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