Cities push for permanent residents to be given vote

Five New Brunswick cities want to give permanent residents the ability to vote in the next municipal election, but a change in provincial law must take place for that to happen.

5 cities are asking for a legal change to give permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he thinks that changing the Municipal Elections Act to give permanent residents the right to vote would help with the retention of immigrants. (CBC)

Five New Brunswick cities want to give permanent residents the ability to vote in the next municipal election, but a change in provincial law must take place for that to happen.

Only Canadian citizens can vote according to the the Municipal Elections Act.

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council wants the law to be amended to include permanent residents in time for the next round of municipal elections in 2016.

"It'll only lead to one thing, community inclusion and increased the civic engagement of those immigrants in the community," said Moncef Lakouas, the council's first vice-president.

Support for the idea is gathering steam. Earlier this week, Fredericton council added its name to a list of cities in favour of the idea. The other cities on the list are Edmundston, Moncton, Dieppe and Saint John.

These cities have all sent letters to Premier Brian Gallant about their desire to change the law.

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he thinks changing the law would help with the retention of immigrants.

"What better way is there to welcome someone in your community and to ensure to keep them here than to offer them an opportunity to vote in a municipal election," he said.

Behrouz Kamel, a Moncton resident who owns a piece of land near the casino in Moncton, said he wants to build a restaurant and a motel there.

The permanent resident made Moncton home five years ago. Now he would like to be able to vote.

"I think we should vote because we are like Canadians. We live here, we sleep here, we work here. we eat here. Everything our life is here," said Kamel.

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