Tag Archives: social justice

Democratic limbo

This is a short post, and it doesn’t directly have to do with teaching and learning in Philosophy or Arts One or generally (but yes indirectly).

I am staggered, horrified, utterly floored by the executive order about immigration and refugees to the U.S. that was signed yesterday. And I found myself wanting to do something, lots of things (which I’m already starting…more on that later, probably). One of those things was to contact lawmakers and ask them to respond, to resist. But I realized I’m in democratic limbo.

I am an American citizen who is a permanent resident in Canada. I live in Canada, and have since 2004. I don’t have a representative in the U.S. Congress anymore. I can vote in U.S. Presidential elections (and I always do), but I can’t vote for Congress members.

[update!] — turns out I was wrong about that. I CAN vote in federal elections, which includes not just for President but for members of Congress. Okay, so time to step up!


How about contacting MPs (Members of Parliament) in Canada? A tweet I saw this morning suggested Canadians do so:

But I can’t vote in Canada; I’m not a citizen. What is my legal status in terms of MPs representing me? Some web searches are not helping me. I mean, I can still contact them and all, but it’s also a question of: if I can’t vote, do they, philosophically, represent me? Beyond the crass question of whether they care what I think because my vote can’t help or hurt them, are they theoretically beholden to represent permanent residents?

Or am I in a democratic limbo?

I am not at all suggesting that my limbo is anything like the limbo that some people who can’t get into the U.S. are experiencing right now. It’s their situation and my extreme anger about it that led me to this question, and my drive to do something about it. There are many, many things I can and am working on doing, but the calls to contact representatives and MPs is leading me to wonder what the status of immigrants who are not citizens in Canada is, in regard to such efforts.

In the meantime, I’m starting work on a few other avenues of resistance. Stay tuned.