As Immigrants it is important to vote in our chosen country

On June 7th Ontario will hold a General Election to vote for our Premier of Ontario. Advance voting began on Saturday May 26th and will last until May 30th.  The Advance Voting Polls are for people who are not available to vote on June 7th or people who are just anxious and want to get their civic duty done. I do understand that many people enjoy voting on the day of the election and see it is a national day of action and pride.

Today I asked a friend whose opinion on politics I greatly value if he voted yet. I know he will be out of the country on June 7th.  Quite proud of himself he replied that YES he had voted on the previous Monday. Confused, I asked him how he could have voted on Monday if the advance polls had not opened till this Saturday.  It was then that I realized that he meant he had voted at the consulate of his country as they were having presidential elections.  I have seen many posts on social media relating to expats in Canada voting in the elections of their countries of former nationality from within Canada. A few Latin American countries have had elections recently. I also saw a lot of political discussion about the elections in those countries. I did not however see many posts from naturalized Canadian citizens posting about voting in the Ontario elections or discussing the debate that took place on May 27th between the leaders of the NDP, Liberal and Conservative Parties on Ontario.

It is a great honor for people who left their home countries many years ago to be able to take pride and vote in their home countries to bring about positive changes from within Canada. The honor is just as great to take part in politics in Canada. What struck me as odd in my friend’s case was that he was voting for a President in a country he has not resided in for over 20 years yet he still engages in politics of his country and solidarity work. I am not saying he should not do so but, why not do the same for Canada? He has been in Canada for over 20 years and a Canadian Citizen. Why is voting in Canada and Canadian politics not as important to him? Is it our false sense of security in Canada that everything will be fine no matter who is elected? Is it because Canada is a country made of up immigrants and we think everything will always remain fine? It was this same type of thinking that affected the US in the last elections. This same type of thinking that is now hurting so many Latin Americans in the US. Had the Latin American  community in the US realized the importance of political engagement, maybe things would not have turned out as they did. According to the 2016 Census of the USA, the Hispanic population in the United States in 2015 was 56.6 million. Can you imagine if they had exercised their right to vote and participation in politics?

The election in Ontario on June 7th will determine who the Premier of Ontario will be. It is the decisions made by our elected officials that will have a direct effect on our lives in our cities, our provinces and our country and as such we should concern ourselves with who will govern us.

The Premier of Ontario is an important role. As head of the government of Ontario, the Premier has several roles and power. The appointment of Premier is made by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and presides over the Executive Council or Cabinet.

The Office of the Premier of Ontario includes a number of committees: Priorities and Planning Committee; Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management; Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet; Legislation and Regulations Committee; Health, Education and Social Policy Committee; Jobs and Economic Policy Committee.  Much is at stake depending on which of the three leading parties assumes the role of Premier of Ontario. All of the issues on the table being discussed are important but of particular concern to Latin American households are jobs; minimum wage; healthcare; childcare.

Even immigration itself will be affected by who our next Premier of Ontario is. What is important for immigrants to know is that Ontario has The Ontario Immigration Act, 2015, which came into effect on January 1, 2018. The Act provides legislature for: Registry of Ontario employers and recruiters eligible to make job offers and provide recruitment service respectively to foreign nationals; Creation of Settlement and Integration programs; Creation and regulation of selection program related to temporary and permanent immigration into the province; Inspections, investigations, offences, and administrative and other penalties.

The Act is an attempt by the government of Ontario to make the province an attractive destination for skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and other talented immigrants from all over the world.

Ontario received more than 100,000 immigrants every year and The Act recognizes that Ontario is a top destination for Immigrants.

The elections of June 7th will have an impact on many things, one of which will be The Ontario Immigration Act. For this reason alone it is important that members of the Latin American community in Ontario get involved in the politics of the province and vote in the Provincial elections. Many of us have family and friends that will want to immigrate to Canada and thus will be affected.

According to the 2016 Ontario Census, there were 195,950 Latin Americans residing in Ontario. The number has risen since 2016. As a community, we have a large voice. Our voice can make a difference in who is elected Premier of Ontario which in turn will make a huge difference in how immigrants are treated in Ontario and will also affect not just the lives of naturalized Latin Americans in Ontario but future applicants for immigration to Ontario.

Being involved in the politics of our beloved former countries of nationality is important and a wonderful thing. So is being involved in the politics of our beloved adopted home country of Canada. Let’s make the voices of the Latin American community in Ontario count. On June 7th, get out there and exercise the right you have earned to vote.