As a dual citizen who believes in open borders, free trade and the need for a global constitutional republic to deal with an increasing number of issues that require an international response, I admit that sovereignty is a complicated issue. However, I certainly feel that people have the right to elect their own government representatives without outside interference.
As basic as this principle seems to me, it does not seem to be shared by anyone on the right or the left. All politicians, political parties and ideologues will beat their chest over sovereignty when it suits their purpose but as long as their side is winning, they don’t really care. The hypocrisy on this issue in recent years, from all sides, has been staggering.
In Canada, 3rd party groups stand accused of having undo influence on the 2015 election – in part using foreign donations and loophole that allowed that to happen may soon be closed. At the same time, the Tories who were hurt most by this spending were accused of bringing in professional campaigners from the US in 2011. Stephen Harper, the leader of that party until 2015 also never fully disclosed the list of donors to his leadership bids.
In British Columbia, the governing Liberal Party had no qualms at all about openly accepting large foreign donations.
The NDP who, along with the Liberals, benefited from the 3rd party spending in 2015 claim to believe strongly in sovereignty. One of their big issues in 2015 was defeating the Trans Pacific Partnership which, they claimed, was a threat to sovereignty. However, the NDP had to issues with voicing opinions on the US election and even campaigning for Bernie Sanders.
On a personal note, I know that many of the NDP rank and file were among the most militant supporters of Sanders. I lost friends and saw American friends verbally attacked (including having racist and sexist comments hurtled at them) by Canadian “progressives” supporting Sanders. These same people would turn around and immediately begin talking about sovereignty if you mentioned the TPP. They would even openly say that they would not be ok with US influence in Canadian elections, even while making plans to drive to New York or Michigan to campaign for Sanders.
For whatever it’s worth, I’ve never heard of an American candidate or party turning away Canadian volunteers because of sovereignty (but it is illegal for them to take financial donations). As hypocritical Canadians of all political stripes may be about sovereignty, Americans are worse.
Right now the US is justifiably obsessed with Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prior to the election, much of the US was concerned with foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation. Over the years the US has worried about foreign donations, foreign influence, hacking, voter fraud, communist influences and anything that might make an election anything but free, fair, democratic and American.
At the same time the US has had its fingers in just about every election, anywhere in the world since at least World War II. The US has helped to overthrow democratically elected governments, propped up tyrants and helped them put down democracy movements, funded armed rebels and supported military coups d’etat.
As I said at the start, sovereignty is a complicated issue for me. I am legally entitled to vote in two countries but I’ve never been certain that I should. It seems to me that the residents of an area, citizens or not, should select their representatives in government.
I also believe that people are going to have to give up some amount of local sovereignty in the coming years. I do not see a way to seriously address the important international issues of the 21st century without some form of global government. Issues like climate change, ocean pollution and over fishing, mass immigration due to climate change, food and water shortages, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, cybercrime and dozens of other issues are going to require international consensus and a coordinated global response, otherwise it will be nearly impossible to act on or regulate them at all. In crafting such an international consensus, it will simply not be possible to appease every local community.
With that said, people still need to be able to freely choose their own representatives in government without undo influence from outside individuals or groups. National and international interests and people pushing specific ideologies should not have play a significant role in choosing local candidates (unless those interests and ideologies are themselves rooted in the local community).
Justin Trudeau’s government should take this opportunity to close every loophole and not just one. When it comes to elections, jurisdictions should become walled gardens. People from outside the community can certainly have and voice opinions and federal and provincial political parties should be able to contribute a limited amount to local candidates but other than that, isolation should be the rule.
Federal candidates and campaigns should be prohibited from receiving funds or volunteers from outside the country, but also from outside the riding. Additionally, the government should make it a misdemeanor to actively participate in or contribute to an election that is not your own (in a location in which you are not a legal citizen or resident), whether it is in another riding, another province or another country.
If we are going to respect sovereignty and the democratic process, then let’s do that without leaving any wiggle room or loopholes.
I also think that independent election monitors should become standard, in any election anywhere in the world but that is a discussion for another day.