Friday, September 21, 2007

Municipal vote for Non-Citizens

I received a question from the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers asking if I would support their initiative to give immigrants a say in municipal politics. In short, they want the right to vote in municipal elections because they pay taxes, run businesses and their children attend schools. However, they are not Canadian citizens.

Here is my answer:

Hi Katrina,
Thank you for raising the important question of how we can engage immigrants more fully in the community and political landscape of Canada. I would not want a founding assumption of democracy (voting by citizens) removed. However, as a trustee, I would wholeheartedly support more direct consultation and input from immigrants on matters of education. We need to hear more about the concerns and issues of immigrant parents and work to break down the barriers of communication. One concrete step I would take would be to re-establish the public meetings which would be open to all community members, parents, teachers, principals and students. The meetings would provide everyone a chance to express their concerns to their trustee and MLA and to ensure that all voices from the community are heard.

I am very focused on community outreach and feel that schools provide an obvious and natural learning place for all members of the community. I would like to initiate more after-hours community use of schools, for things like computer literacy classes, ESL classes, physical education, social events and other community-building opportunities. I see the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers as an obvious partner in this venture. If I’m successful on October 15, I hope we can work together to explore these possibilities.

I hope this answers your question, but if you need further clarification, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,
Sue Huff

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