Don’t you find it ironic that Wayne Gretsky endorsed Stephen Harper in the recent federal election? Mr. Harper’s government was responsible for the legislation that denied non-resident Canadians like Mr. Gretsky the privilege of voting in Canada. When the issue of whether Canadians who live outside the country should be denied the right to vote was in the news, we heard from various high-profile non-residents like Donald Sutherland who strongly objected to the new regulation. My initial reaction was that if you’re Canadian you should have the right to vote here. Then, sensibility clicked in.
Wayne Gretsky lives in the United States. Anyone who lives in the United States or visits there knows only too well that Canadian news is treated like Al Qaeda propoganda in the land of so-called opportunity. Canadian television stations are blacked out in the United States by insane regulations and local cable/satellite networks. This is despite the fact in Canada we can easily access American networks across various media. Perhaps it’s their paranoia that there might be some objectivity and truth in “foreign” broadcasts that prohibits our point of view from filtering across the border.
The ongoing, persistent lack of Canadian perspective and exposure in American media means American residents really have no idea of what Canada is about, what we stand for, and have little knowledge of what is actually going on in the rest of the world outside the U.S. borders. That being the case, how can someone who lives in the United States full-time truly understand the complexities of our political and economic situation on a day-to-day basis. Although there is a great deal of information available on-line, there’s nothing more informative than reading local newspapers, watching local news and talking to your neighbours and members of your community to fully understand the implications of political decisions.
For these reasons, I think that non-resident Canadians’ right to vote should not be a given. But even more important, is the fact they do not pay taxes in this country. One of the first things our expat superstars do is establish residency in the United States or some tax-sheltering European country rather than pay taxes in and support the country of their birth. Entertainers and professional athletes are famous for this. Until you have “skin in the game” you have no right to a say in how our country is run or by whom. The issue of dual-citizenship is complicated and prone to the vagaries of interpretation. If you’re a Canadian who wants to vote here, then put your money where your mouth is and pay taxes here. Then we’ll let you vote.