Tuesday 1 June 2004

when voting doesn't count

I can't vote in the next Canadian general election. "So what?", I hear you say. "You live in the UK now, just in case you haven't noticed that it doesn't snow much anymore and everyone around you has a funny accent." Well yes, it's true. I do live in the UK now but up until this election, us ex-pats could vote from overseas. This election, I can only vote if I can give a date I plan on returning to Canada (I could lie I suppose, but that would make baby Jesus cry). After this general election, I won't be able to vote at all - after 5 years of living overseas, you are no longer eligible to vote in Canadian elections.

I think the right to vote should be based on how much Canadian-ness you've managed to retain while living overseas. A questionnaire could determine how Canadian you are. For example, here are some questions you can ask Canadians living in the UK:

1. When you hear people talk about "American ice hockey", you:

a) Smile and appreciate the fact that you can still hear about hockey results in the UK.

b) Giggle at the way those cute English people refer to it as "ice" hockey.

c) Irately explain to your partner/friend/anyone standing within hearing distance that it's not American hockey, particularly as most of the players are Canadian and we have Stanley cup-winning teams, for god's sake.

2. You see someone Canadian on television. You:

a) Quietly take pleasure in seeing a fellow countryman/woman and enjoy being reminded of home.

b) Make a note of it and mention it in your next letter home to your best friend.

c) Point and scream excitedly, "S/HE'S CANADIAN!!" repeatedly. (Except if the Canadian is someone embarrassing like Celine Dion or James Cameron, in which case, you keep very quiet.)

3. You notice that your local pub is serving Labatt Ice. You tell your friends:

a) "Labatt's is okay. Not really my favourite, though."

b) "Is that a good beer? I don't drink the stuff myself."

c) "No one in Canada drinks that crap! It's mass produced garbage! Let me phone my friend and have them Purolate some decent microbrewery stuff to us."

4. Someone says to you, "American, Canadian - who cares? You're all the same." You:

a) Politely remind them that Canada is actually a different country.

b) Keep quiet. Perhaps this person isn't well travelled and shouldn't be ridiculed.

c) Beat them senseless with your copy of the Littlest Hobo soundtrack and swear at them in two official languages.

I'm going to write to my (former) MP and suggest this testing method.

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