In the midst of a re-election campaign, Toronto mayor David Miller has called for voting in municipal elections to be extended to landed immigrants. He argued that it is necessary to protect their rights and ensure input on issues directly affecting their neighbourhoods.
Under the current law only Canadian citizens 18 or older who reside or own property in Toronto may vote in the municipal elections. Over 200 000 Canadian permanent residents live in Toronto, the highest number of any Canadian city. Miller argued that allowing landed immigrants to vote in municipal elections could help prevent the deterioration of neighbourhoods with high densities of immigrants that has been seen in the past. "They haven't had a say in the decisions that are affecting them," said Miller. "And if someone who lives in Calgary but owns a piece of property here has a right to vote in municipal elections, I think somebody who lives here, committed to the city, has a right to vote."
Immigrant groups welcomed the proposal, which would be a first for Canada. The policy area falls under provincial jurisdiction in Canada, so any change would need to come from the government of Ontario. For their part, Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen said he'd be prepared to look at the idea after the November ballot, when the Municipal Elections Act will undergo a regular review. Ontarians will go to the polls to elect their municipal governments on November 13th.