On Friday, November 9th, #LostVotesYVR Campaign, that advocates for allowing permanent residents right to vote, has released public opinion research findings showing the majority of Metro Vancourites support granting permanent residents the right to vote. The campaign is led by Fresh Voices and supported by a diverse group of people including newly elected Vancouver City Councillors Christine Boyle and Jean Swanson, Khelsilem, a Squamish language educator and leader, Sharmarke Dubow, a newly elected Victoria City Councillor and many others citizens and permanent residents on the ground.
Ashvan Wal, a community organizer with Fresh Voices said “I am a permanent resident. I live here, go to school, work and volunteer. I am a contributing member of Vancouver. I am not the only one who thinks that way. 84% of Metro Vancouverites describe permanent residents as ‘valuable, contributing members of society.’”
“This is an important next step in bringing new voices to the table and strengthening our democracy,” said Christine Boyle, Vancouver City Councillor.
“Giving permanent residents the right to vote is necessary and needed to bring our democracy into the 21st century,” said Khelsilem, a Squamish language educator and leader to express his support for the campaign. “A lot of the arguments on why permanent residents should not be allowed to vote were applied to Indigenous people… this is about giving dignity to the people that live here today.”
In April 2018, Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion to request the B.C. Government to allow permanent residents to vote in municipal elections. The latest Vancouver municipal election saw a 39 per cent voter turnout and with more than 60,000 permanent residents left without a voice. Three-in-five Metro Vancouverites think allowing Permanent Residents to vote will strengthen democracy at the municipal level. The public opinion polling results are available to public view here.
Sharmarke Dubow, Victoria City Councillor stressed the number of residents who were engaged in the municipal elections, but were not allowed to vote. “If you can donate to a campaign, why aren’t you allowed to vote?”
“I am here to support and say that COPE is fully supportive of allowing permanent residents to vote in municipal elections,” said Jean Swanson to share that she will be a vocal advocate at City Hall to push the B.C. Government to make this change happen.
The #LostVotesYVR community campaign have started a petition to call on the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Honourable Selina Robinson to meet with them and listen to what Metro Vancouverites are asking for: permanent residents should be allowed to vote in elections and advance our democracy.
26.5% of British Columbians’ “mother tongue” is a non-official language, followed by Ontario (25.7%), Alberta (19.4%), and Quebec (12.3%). British Columbia has the highest percentage of language diversity of any Canadian province.