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Non-citizens shocked to get voter registration reminder from Elections Canada

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By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Sat Mar 14 2015

Josue David Balarezo Flores would have been thrilled to receive Elections Canada’s voter registration notice — if the Ecuadorian migrant were already a permanent resident, let alone a citizen.

The Toronto resident is among a number of spouses being sponsored for permanent resident status who were surprised — and sometimes, humiliated — to get a letter bearing the Canadian government logo earlier this month, reminding them to register to vote.

“It’s crazy. We thought the law had changed and we were allowed to vote,” said the computer engineer, who married a Canadian and came to this country in 2013. His application to become a permanent resident has been in the queue for 17 long months.

“It is just so funny that we are not even permanent residents yet, and here we have a letter from the government telling us their records show we have not registered to vote.”

Troy Dearborn, of St. Pierre Jolys, Man., said his wife, Alice Campbell, a British citizen, also got the letter to would-be voters.

“Receiving this voter registration is like adding insult to injury. We’ve been waiting so long for some sort of acknowledgement from our government, and instead of receiving the permanent residency we are so desperately waiting for, we receive this voter registration,” said Dearborn, who married Campbell in 2013 and applied to sponsor her 14 months ago.

“This is a harsh reminder of the rights and privileges we don’t yet have. It’s like we’re being mocked by the very country we’re trying to call home.”

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