Here is a factoid which more than universally transcends the Two Solitudes…
How you know you’re doomed on election day.
First in English (Toronto), then in French (Montréal).
Moral of the story: Stay in your car, drive straight to work, and don’t get out (lest you find yourself having to interact with them)… Oh, and pray like hell come election day.
Québécois and history
Québécois and geography
Some last thoughts?
For the last several weeks, Canada’s various social media have begrudged the fact that there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Canadians living abroad who would not have the right to vote in the upcoming election.
The rule is simple: Save for a very narrow set of exceptions (such as working for the Federal government abroad), if you have lived outside of Canada for more than 5 years, then you cannot vote.
Incredibly, there are a few non-resident Canadians out there — who haven’t lived in Canada for years, decades, or even their entire lives — who are complaining that they don’t have the right to vote owing to a 5+ year absence from the country.
Think of it this way: If there are people in the country who can’t tell their foot from their hand (to used a “toned down” expression), then do ya think it’s a safer bet to extend the right to vote to people who have been absent from the country 5, 10, 20, or 50 years? (Me thinks not… perhaps it may even be just a teeeny weeeny bit worse. Just perhaps).
If they were allowed to vote, then about 300,000 Hong Kongers (who also coincidentally hold Canadian passports), or 50,000 Lebanese (who happen to also have Canadian passports), and not counting perhaps up to a few hundred thousand others in many other countries, would cast their ballots primarily in 20 or 30 ridings of Vancouver, Toronto or Montréal (which would be a vote tipper for sure, and which would rob the citizens of those cities of the opportunity to have their votes count on issues they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis… and that could be up to 10% of Parliament’s seats — no small number).
Many of these people abroad have not lived in Canada for any more than 3 years in their entire lives — just long enough to obtain citizenship and then high-tale it “back home” (with home not being Canada).
And then there are those many cases where Canadian citizenship was acquired abroad, simply by having been born to a Canadian parent who themselves may have only lived in Canada for 3 years (note the 3-year citizenship rule has recently been extended to a whopping 4 years, but most people I’m referring to still fell under the old 3-year rule). These “Canadians” born abroad may have never ever lived in Canada, may have never set foot in Canada, are more than likely not at all aware of the issues which affect the day-to-day lives of Canadians, and perhaps do not even speak English or French.
So, at the end of the day, they’re not allowed to vote.
It’s all about a beautiful word spelled B-A-L-A-N-C-E.
(Did I ever mention I was more than happy to not have the right to vote when I lived out of the country. I was content with the situation because I felt I was contributing to the voting system’s integrity. I met waaaaay too many of these types of “Canadians” abroad who couldn’t even name one, let along two provinces in Canada, or let alone anything to do with Canadian politics or election issues).
As an aside…
Until we come up with a better system, then let us leave the system as is.
If politicians are looking for suggestions…. Perhaps there are ways to “tweek” the system, but it would still remain a subject for debate if it is a “better system” or not.
France has a model in which one deputy/MP seat is specifically designated for nationals abroad. Nationals abroad could cast their vote for this lone MP, and no others. But we could make it so that this lone MP would not be allowed to vote on matters of budgetary importance, nor on matters regarding immigration/nationality, nor matters involving Canadian social services which could be accessed by citizens abroad. It may also be necessary to have this lone MP sit as an independent.
This falls under the purview of the elections act, not the constitution. Thus it is a modification which could be made by way of an Act of Parliament (if the need is even there – but I’m still not convinced it is).
Without such restrictions, the
dreadful alternative would be that everyone abroad would be able to vote for a party which would advocate for beefed up air-ambulances back to Canada for some dumb thing like a broken arm, or for widening citizenship laws to automatically grant citizenship to 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins, plus their dog. Of course this is an exaggeration, but it drives home the point.
We’re already seeing parties panhandle to certain groups in this election campaign. Imagine if, out of desperation to tip the outcome in several ridings, they also had the opportunity to panhandle to “citizens” abroad (ie: how much can we give them and spend on them) in order to simply gain a few extra seats by tipping the balance in ridings which may not have otherwise voted that way? It could be disastrously costly, and would jeopardize the voices of those at home who would be drowned out in their ridings by those abroad (who tended to reside in a concentration of only 30 or so ridings when they did live in Canada before moving back “home” — with “home” being places like like Lebanon, Europe, the US, India, Pakistan, China mainland & Hong Kong, and other places).
This is also why I’m on the fence about “forcing” people to vote (such as the Australian model). It may be better to allow the uninformed — and those who simply don’t care — to “opt out” if they so desire, rather than risking them mark an “X” (chances are that our higher voter absentee rate may be related to the numbers of the “uninformed” just not wanting to vote… and perhaps that’s not a bad thing).
Hey there all of you people on Canada’s social Media: Tone down down the tears being shed for those abroad who are not allowed to vote.
Have a great day!