FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL
I’m Canadian – and I should have a right to vote
My name is Donald Sutherland. My wife’s name is Francine Racette. We are Canadians. We each hold one passport. A Canadian passport. That’s it. They ask me at the border why I don’t take American citizenship. I could still be Canadian, they say. You could have dual citizenship. But I say no, I’m not dual anything. I’m Canadian. There’s a maple leaf in my underwear somewhere. There used to be a beaver there, too, but I’m 80 now and beavers are known to take off when you’re in your 80s.
We live in Canada all the time we can. Our family house is here. Professionally, I still have to think twice when I say “out” or “house.” I have to restrain myself from saying “eh?”. In 1978, that’s nearly 40 years ago, the Canadian government made me an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Governor-General gave me the Governor-General’s Award a while back. I am on your Walk of Fame in Toronto. My sense of humour is Canadian. But I can’t vote.
Did you know that? If you don’t live here all the time you can’t vote. Americans who live abroad can vote. They can vote because they’re citizens! Citizens! But I can’t. Because why? Because I’m not a citizen? Because what happens to Canada doesn’t matter to me? Ask any journalist that’s ever interviewed me what nationality I proudly proclaim to have. Ask them. They’ll tell you. I am a Canadian. But I’m an expatriate and the Harper government won’t let expatriates participate in Canadian elections.
Did you read the editorial in Le Monde? A full page saying essentially that Canada isn’t Canada any more. That the beautiful, peace-pursuing dream that was Canada, the Canada you once knew and were so proud of, is no longer “Canada.” The article goes on to detail just who we’ve become and it isn’t pretty. It’s very sad. And this new “Canada,” this Canadian government that has taken the true Canada’s place, has furiously promoted a law that denies its citizens around the world the right to vote. Why? Is it because they’re afraid we’ll vote to return to a government that will once again represent the values that the rest of the world looked up to us for? Maybe.