As a former citizenship judge, I agree with Daphne Bramham that permanent residents should not be given the right to vote in Canada. Besides the many excellent reasons that she gives, there is another important one.
To become a citizen of Canada, one must learn about Canadian values, history, geography, rights and responsibilities, and have a basic ability to communicate in one of the official languages. Many immigrants come from cultures that are totally different than ours, and respect for human rights and diversity is not necessarily part of their understanding.
Canada has been a model for the rest of the world as to how we welcome and integrate immigrants. We would do ourselves and them a disservice if we do not give immigrants the opportunity to learn about Canada before they make fundamental decisions about our democracy such as voting.
Vera Radyo, North Vancouver
The right to vote is what makes citizenship special
The majority of delegates to last September’s UBCM convention believe permanent residents of our country ought to be allowed to vote in local elections and that to do so will help increase voter turnout. And the B.C. Civil Liberties Association believes that to do so will “foster deeper civic engagement”. Really? There is no objective reason to believe either outcome is likely.
People who come to our country ought to be encouraged to become citizens and thereby both gain the right and assume the responsibility of voting in elections at all levels of government. To diminish the value of Canadian citizenship, thereby reducing its attractiveness, does nothing to improve civic engagement. Quite the contrary. Despite the fevered imaginings of a certain occupant of high elected office, Canada is not, at least not yet, a “post-nation state.”
David Marley, West Vancouver
Political donations tax credit
Daphne Bramham’s column about political parties’ seeking financial donations strikes a note for many of us at this time of year when we are inundated by requests for charitable giving. She points out the irony that donations to a political party or candidate are treated more favourably by the Canada Revenue Agency than are donations to charities that provide a direct benefit to society.
Donations to political parties are arguably mere financial investments in buying favours from government (e.g., for one’s business or future paid consultantships with government, or for one’s favourite labour union). On the other hand, donations to legitimate charities that aid at-risk youth (e.g., Covenant House), immigrants (e.g., Mosaic), health problems (e.g., Parkinson’s Society), the arts (e.g., Arts Club Theatre), or youth sports all directly benefit some aspect of our social capital, non-governmental institutions that bind our community together and thus sustain our society.
It is clear to most of us that democracy, and thus the competition among political parties, is a precious commodity, in particular during this era of populist upheaval and authoritarian governments. However, treating donations to political parties as charitable giving worthy of a tax credit does not seem to me to further the cause of democracy. Rather, it degrades the definition of charitable giving, i.e., giving to others without the expectation of a direct economic benefit to oneself. If only politicians were brave enough to do away with the charitable tax credit for political parties and candidates.
Bill Koch, West Vancouver
Texting on the move
We all see it virtually every day. Texters on the move. Sending or reading text messages while walking down busy sidewalks, crossing busy intersections (are you crazy), riding a bicycle or skateboard, or driving a car. I even once saw a gentleman texting while making a deposit in front of a urinal in a public washroom (granted this only posed a threat to himself).
What has happened to us that we cannot come to a stop while engaging with our phones? People, this is outright dangerous, not only for you, but all of us. I understand the value of being able to communicate while on the go, but this is being taken too literally. It does not mean while you are moving.
Please take a moment to stop while texting. We will all be safer, particularly you.
Herb Mills, Vancouver
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