By researchers such as Don DeVoretz, who recently released a report for the Asia-Pacific Foundation, the massive numbers of Canadians currently living abroad could constitute a province unto itself, or a “missing province.” According to figures contained in the report, 2.8 million Canadian citizens live on a semi-permanent to permanent basis. It is no wonder that Canada has been called a “nation of wanderers.”
In fact, Canada ranks number three behind Israel and New Zealand as countries that have the largest proportions of their native population living in other countries as expatriates. The question that many have asked is what does this mean? Are there any implications that should be considered?
One of those mentioned by DeVoretz has much to do with politics and elections. He suggests that expats should be allowed the right to vote in Canadian elections. It is thought that such a move for solidarity from the government would encourage expats to renew or strengthen their allegiance to Canada no matter where they may be living. It’s an idea that DeVoretz strongly advocates. After all, other countries allow their expatriated citizens the right to vote in elections.
The movement of larger bodies of expatriates is not surprising when you consider the generally welcoming attitude of Canada towards people from other countries. In other words, it isn’t surprising, then, that Canadians are more comfortable travelling and living abroad. This give and take makes the country far more understanding and tolerate of diverse points of view in the world than countries that have a more insular approach.
This doesn’t mean that Canadian expats haven’t on occasion shown a more controversial streak than might be preferred by their mother country. One may only look back few years ago to the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese conflict. During that short affair, many Canadian expats were taken out of Lebanon by aircraft. Some had lived in the country for most of their lives. This prompted calls for an elimination of dual citizenship policies.
Such examples are hardly the normal however. Most of those who make Canada’s scattered citizenry living abroad chose to take up residency in country like the United States, Britain, and Hong Kong. Also, most are Canadian-born choose from different reasons, to move to these other countries.