People challenge my Canadian-ness all the time. It’s an unnerving microaggression that comes with the business of being a Canadian person of colour among white Europeans for whom citizenship – especially achieved through naturalisation, not birth – is somehow not enough. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the context in which I lost my Charter-protected right to vote four years ago.
I admit, in a country that still uses first-past-the-post, no vote is going to swing a riding anyway (except maybe Elmwood-Transcona – last win margin was 51). And having the right to vote didn’t benefit me in any perceptible way either. It’s one of those things that you don’t notice you even have, like health or running water. But you definitely notice when it’s suddenly gone. Decidedly more so when you’re already deflecting challenges to your claims to nationality with predictable regularity; losing this basic right compounds the latent threat to your identity until the drip-drip of external skepticism eventually wears down your armour and slowly manifests as self-doubt. Their skepticism seemed to be confirmed in 2015 by the Ontario Court of Appeal: there were Canadians who were more Canadian, and Canadians who were less Canadian.
Now the Supreme Court rules that *all* Canadians have the same right to vote regardless of residence status. I didn’t need this ruling as vindication, as I already knew I was right and didn’t need a court’s support to know that. But what regaining the right to vote means is the end of the hurtful arguments on the home front and one bullet less for my conversation counterpart on the European front. A vote may be practically useless due to first-past-the-post, but it’s still symbolically powerful, as anyone who doesn’t have one can tell you.
All of this I will bundle into one expression come October when I vote sincerely rather than strategically for the first time.
Long story short: woohoo!