There Is A Difference Between Permanent Residency and Official Citizenship
Came across this great story in the Truro (Nova Scotia) Daily. It tells the story of Gloria Henderson who – after 24 years of living in Canada – decided to finally become a Canadian Citizen. Originally from Maine, she came to Canada in 1993 when she met her Canadian husband. She had started the application process on a few occasions, but her assumption that the process was a burden of bureaucratic paperwork and self admitted procrastination left the whole thing incomplete for years.
“I feel Canada is a great country … I like Canada’s version of things. I like Canada’s place in the world.” – Gloria Henderson
After living in the country for six years, Henderson became a permanent resident. Permanent residents get most of the social benefits that citizens receive, including health-care coverage, but they cannot vote, run for political office or hold jobs that need a high-level security clearance. With that said, permanent residents are citizens of other countries.
After recently having a conversation with a friend who she had assumed was a natural born Canadian, she discovered that was in fact not the case. Her friend had in fact been born in South Africa and had completed the citizenship process. That discovery basically convinced Gloria to get on with it. In early February, after cramming for three weeks straight, Henderson wrote her citizenship and came away with a perfect score. Now, she is just waiting to get the call for her swearing in ceremony at Pier 21 in Halifax. Nice end to the story.
What this story illustrates is a growing conversation within Canada about permanent residency vs. citizenship. Should permanent residents ultimately make the citizenship commitment to where they are living? Should they become citizens? The CBC published an interesting piece about this recently. Proponents argue that they are being shut out of the political process despite the fact they pay taxes, own property, have children in the schools and use city services. Opponents say the right to vote is one of the most important privileges a country can confer upon a citizen and shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Jackson Doughart at the National Post published a piece back in 2015 about this. Besides holding a passport, the legal rights afforded to citizens boils down to two basic entitlements: to live in Canada without conditions and to participate in the electoral process. The participation in said electoral process is something important to consider. Voting in elections is an inherent element of every form of democracy. Widespread participation of citizens in political processes is the cornerstone of the system. Therefore, voting should be regarded as a privilege, which involves a certain degree of responsibility. When we are voting we have an influence on every aspect of our lives from free access to education to homeland security and economic stability. By voting we are making our voices heard and expressing our opinion on how we think the governments should operate.
What do you think? Share your comments with us.