The politics of the personal
Calling it an issue close to his heart as the child of an immigrant single mother, Mayor David Miller tonight threw his support behind a movement to extend the right to vote in Toronto municipal elections to non-citizens.
Politically enfranchising newcomers who reside in the city but have not yet attained their citizenship would be a first in Canada but not the world.
“It’s my view that those people who have chosen to make Toronto their home and live here permanently should have the right to vote in municipal elections in exactly the same way as Canadian citizens,” the Mayor said to applause from some 200 people attending a city-organized panel discussion on the topic that was held in the council chambers at City Hall this evening.
“From my perspective you can’t be an inclusive and open government unless all of the residents have an ability to choose that government.”...
[C]ouncillor Janet Davis (Beaches East York) ... also approves of granting voting rights to non-citizens, saying it “goes to the heart of ensuring social inclusion.”
Author Alan Broadbent, chairman of the Maytree Foundation, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and the Tamarack Institute ... [said] “The choice is really this: will we give them shackles or will we given [sic] them wings."
And while I have no doubt that all of this is just so much cynical political maneuvering, I know too that somewhere in the back of these twits' minds there's this semi-formed notion that Toronto's "non-citizens" consist of a bunch of undernourished but impishly delightful pickpockets and chimney-sweeps clutching empty porridge bowls and singing in chorus "It's clear / we're / going to get along!" if only we'd listen.
I mean, why is Janet Davis talking about going "to the heart of ensuring social inclusion" rather than just "ensuring social inclusion"? And why is David Miller stressing the fact that his mother was "single" in addition to being an "immigrant"? And where the hell does Alan Broadbent get the idea that this "shackles" and "wings" business doesn't betray him as an hysteric and a fool?
Because they know that no matter how much question-begging puke about feelings they fling at us, we'll lap it up like dogs.
It's sooooo embarrassing.
(I'm reminded of this scene (advance to minute 5:47) from Armando Iannucci's--absolutely-must-must-see political satire--The Thick of It, where the character of Hugh Abbot (Minister for the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship) is caught in a bureaucratic impropriety. All is set to rights when, at the inquiry, he says of his scrotum-twistingly obvious opportunism, that "It's a personal thing ... But if government isn't personal then what the hell is it?")*
But I quite liked this panel member's contribution to the discussion:
Yes, indeed. Quite successful.
Astrid De Vries, deputy consul-general at the Dutch consulate in Toronto, offered facts on the Netherlands’s three-decade experience allowing non-citizens present in the country five years to vote in municipal elections and even run for office.She said the origins of the idea came from successive national governments and cut across party lines, gathering support on both the left and right of the political spectrum there and is considered quite successful.
*The whole series is available on Youtube. I strongly encourage you to watch it.