On Saturday, Canada saw its quietest election ever. It was the don’t ask, don’t tell election. Thousands of French citizens in Canada voted to choose a member of France’s National Assembly representing North America, in the first round of legislative elections. But Canada, alone among the world’s nations, objected to the election in the first place and said it shouldn’t be held on Canadian soil. Having someone represent Canada in another country’s parliament infringes on our sovereignty, Ottawa has decided. They don’t want rough foreign politics in our genteel streets. The French went ahead and Canada couldn’t stop it, so they made a deal with the French government: Have your election, but keep it quiet. The campaigning, heading to a second-round vote on June 16, is being done mostly through social media and in private places. It was a trade-off, but a worthless one. It showed Canada can’t stop foreign elections here. And it was yet more proof there really isn’t much point in trying. Canada is the only country in the world that objects. It’s time to get over it. Globalization is here. The trend will grow as more people spend time outside their native lands and many countries seek to have their diasporas vote.
Ottawa’s objection has always been a little technical. They’re fine with absentee votes like those cast by French citizens in May’s presidential election. What they don’t like is when foreign countries put Canada in one of their electoral districts. In 2010, France decided citizens abroad would be divided into 11 constituencies; one is North America, and its 165,000 French citizens will elect one deputy.
Similar elections have been held here before. Italy twice elected Canadian dual citizens to represent North America in parliament, most recently in 2008. The Harper government set a policy last year against such elections, but after a diplomatic flap, made a last-minute exception to allow Tunisia to elect members of its constitutional assembly from a riding that included Canada.