I'm among the lucky ones who've won the so-called "birth lottery" by being born here in Canada. People who choose to live in our city should get the same consideration.
Yet, in our current system, some 400,000 permanent residents in Toronto do not enjoy the right to vote in municipal (or provincial or federal) elections, despite the fact they contribute to the tax base and use city services.
We allow people who don't reside in Toronto but own property here to vote, so why a restriction on actual residents?
Some say this is as it should be: voting should be reserved for citizens who are supposedly more committed to Canada. They argue that restricting the rights of non-citizens creates incentives for residents to seek citizenship. I disagree.
Denying these people a vote does not create an incentive to naturalize. Despite our relatively generous citizenship regime, there are still barriers that make it difficult for some to attain citizenship despite a strong commitment to the country. These including literacy challenges making it hard to learn English or French, which is part of the requirement for citizenship.
Without the franchise, the needs of non-citizen residents get ignored. The fact that these individuals often come from minority communities compounds another problem: our system is thus less representative of the people that make up our city.
Toronto's municipal politics hasn't always been the subject of late night comedy monologues and international news coverage. It's the level of government that most effects our everyday lives. A more inclusive city lends greater legitimacy to our government, something we seem to be in need of at the moment.
Cara Faith Zwibel is director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.