Why can’t permanent residents vote in municipal elections?

I am proud of the way our community embraces diversity.

  • The Multicultural Festival has celebrated the cultural diversity in our community for many years.
  •  When there is an act of intolerance in our community, we are quick to speak out.
  • Several members of our community have been recognized with a provincial Newcomer Champion award.
  • And the Local Immigration Partnership, and the many individuals and organizations it comprises, does a magnificent job in helping newcomers settle into our community and to integrate into the workforce. There is more work to do but they are making a difference.

These are just some of the ways our community embraces and celebrates diversity. We recognize that inclusivity makes us a healthier and more prosperous city.

Immigrants raise families and send their children to schools. Immigrants work for local businesses and own businesses. Immigrants contribute to community life in many ways.

And they pay municipal and education property taxes and user fees. So why can’t they vote in the municipal election?

Last year, Toronto City Council voted to ask the province to “amend the necessary legislation to allow permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections.”  Permanent resident status is a federal designation granted to legal immigrants who have not yet become citizens. If the province agrees to the request, the change could not occur until the 2018 municipal election to allow time for public education and the required changes to legislation.

It was a tight vote and public opinion is divided. The argument against allowing permanent residents to vote is founded on the belief that they should become a Canadian citizen first. The argument for allowing permanent residents to vote recognizes that they pay municipal property taxes and make many contributions to their communities. They should have a say in who governs their community. It also recognizes that democracy is fundamentally about inclusion and thrives on a diversity of backgrounds, interests and ideas.

Inclusivity and diversity are important values that are expressed every day in our community.  These values are part of our identity.

I would like to see Guelph join Toronto in urging the province to allow permanent residents to vote in municipal elections in Ontario.

, ,

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

Connect with the City of Guelph

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

3 Comments on “Why can’t permanent residents vote in municipal elections?”

  1. Nichola Martin Says:

    hmmm I heard a councillor on the CBC discussing this. When I arrived in Canada I think it had just switched over – to the current system where you have to be a citizen – prior to that you didn’t have to be a citizen. Is three years really too long to wait to vote? At the three year mark I marched down to the citizenship place and became a citizen just because I wanted to vote.
    I think we need to have people making the connection between citizenship, and municipal politics and with the other two levels of government. Otherwise we are in danger of continuing the myth of municipal government as devoid of policy, and of only being concerned with property owners and business (taxpayers as opposed to citizens).
    If there are barriers to people becoming citizens at the three year mark then we should address that issue instead.

  2. trikha48 Says:

    This is an excellent post regarding immigrants but as Hon’ble mayor has indicated there is a divided opinion about permanent residents becoming part of the municipal elections. Diversity and inclusiveness are very important component of Guelph population.This was clearly observed in today’s event at Hanlon Convention centre. The event named as The Immigration Connection: Creating Collective Impact was attended by a large audience including Mayor Karen Farbridge.The main highlight of the event apart from presentation by the dignitaries was the brain storming discussion involving various groups about how WE CAN CONTRIBUTE IN MAKING GUELPH A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE. Congrats all who made this event a success.


    *Dr Arun Trikha Ph.D C.Chem.* *8-20 Shackleton Dr,Guelph ON N1E0C5* *Ph:(519)3414763, (519)546 0210* [image: Glitter Text Generator – http://www.sparklee.com%5D


  1. Should permanent residents be allowed to vote in municipal elections? - August 7, 2014

    […] topic Permanent resident voting was briefly in the news in Guelph back in 2013. Mayor Farbridge wrote a blog post in support of it, the Guelph Mercury against it and the Tribune did not take a […]

%d bloggers like this: