This question of the role of the anglophone students’ vote in Quebec provincial elections comes in the wake of accusations against the Parti Québécois for trying to bar anglophone participation in the upcoming elections. Students are being turned away this year for insufficient proof of being “domiciled” in the province. While in the 2012 provincial election students were eligible to vote by showing up with photo ID and proof of residency for six months or more, they are now being asked for proof of permanent residency (a health card, driver’s license, etc). Though the details around these new rules remain unclear, this could mean that a large majority of out-of-province students will be systematically barred from voting in the upcoming election.
For the past week, I have had several conversations about whether out-of-province students should be able to participate in the provincial elections. Quite a few people have argued that because many anglophone students are out-of-province, and because many out-of-province students will only be staying in Quebec for four years and then leaving, they should not be entitled to the vote. While this is true, and while many of these students are not invested in Quebec’s future after their studies, I can’t help but think back to the 2012 election and how drastically that has affected students in the past couple of years. People who were students in 2012 and are still studying have been directly affected by the results of those elections, including decisions the PQ government has made on university funding.
Given the nature and fluidity of political change, I think that it is imperative that any student residing in another province for school has the opportunity to have their voice heard. If the decision made in this election has anywhere as drastic an impact on students as it did in 2012, I would argue that it is the right and responsibility of every student to go out and vote.
Amina Moustaqim-Barrette is the SSMU VP External elect.