Author Information

Sheldon Alderton


In today’s political climate where nationalism, protectionism and populism dominate the political discourse, democratic values are being interpreted in new ways. These interpretations give rise to fundamental democratic questions, such as: should certain aliens be allowed to have political rights when they have been living in, and contributing to, democratic countries for extended periods of time? This paper will contrast the political position and rights of Canadian citizens living abroad (expats) with those of permanent residents (aliens) living in Canada, demonstrating that the former have full democratic rights despite being geographically disassociated from domestic communities, while the latter are accorded no democratic rights despite contributing directly to the communities in which they reside. This raises the question of whether it is morally permissible to withhold democratic rights from certain aliens who contribute to their host society more than full citizens of that society who live abroad. Section one demonstrates how democracy is a tool for the institutionalization of liberal values. Section two shows how these values affect expats and aliens unequally and in a manner that is contrary to the values themselves, thus creating a statewide injustice. Lastly, section three presents an argument for eliminating the exclusion faced by aliens in order to resolve the contradiction in liberal democratic values.

There are three distinct types of aliens in Canada: visitors, convention refugees, and permanent residents. For the most part, this essay is not concerned with the first two. This is because visitors are, as the name suggests, only in the country for a short period of time. They will not be there long enough to establish the vested interest that is required to share in the collective burdens and benefits of Canadian democratic society. Convention refugees, defined by the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, fall into another category, with which this paper is not concerned. Aliens, in the context of this paper, are permanent residents. Applications for Permanent Resident status must be made from outside of Canada and applicants are selected according to the government’s immigration criteria. Permanent Residents can be skilled workers, entrepreneurs, investors, self-employed persons, or family members of any of the aforementioned people.

Note on the Author

Father, former construction foreman, board member, and now aspiring academic, Sheldon Alderton is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Political Studies at the University of Saskatchewan

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