Permanent residents in B.C. should be able to vote, group says

B.C. Civil Liberties Association backs local for voting rights for non-citizen permanent residents

A woman walks by voting signage in Colwood, B.C., Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A woman walks by voting signage in Colwood, B.C., Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A B.C. group that supports civil liberties and human rights has backed local politicians seeking voting rights for permanent residents who are not Canadian citizens.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says mayors and councillors at a convention in September endorsed a motion calling for updated provincial legislation to allow permanent residents to vote in local elections.

A statement from the association calls the resolution from the Union of BC Municipalities historic and an “extraordinary opportunity” to extend the vote to more B.C. residents.

The association says it is working with the group #LostVotes to campaign for the change.

Together, they have requested a meeting with Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson to discuss next steps.

The association says voter turnout is declining and access to citizenship is increasingly restrictive, so offering voting rights to permanent residents would be timely.

Meghan McDermott, acting policy director for the civil liberties association, says the B.C. government should take advantage of the municipal resolution because enfranchising immigrants would foster deeper civic engagement.

“Given the barriers to accessing Canadian citizenship, including increasing costs and long government backlogs, we are very excited by the prospect of making local government elections more inclusive of all residents,” McDermott says.

The Canadian Press

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