Voting Rights for Canadian Expats

With over 1.4 million expats, Canada needs to seriously rethink Voting Rights for Expats.

Canadian Abroad More Than Five Years? No Vote For You!

Currently, Canadians are barred from voting in their former constituency after five years living abroad. No later than July 20th, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld federal voting restrictions, claiming non-residents do not live with the consequences of their votes would therefore harm Canada’s democracy to let them cast a ballot. Amongst the chief arguments put forth by Chief Justice George Strathy, Canadian expatriates exercising voting rights would “erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws”.

The Ontario Court of Appeal reversed overturned an earlier favourable decision for Canadian expatriates which restored their right to cast a ballot after living for more than five years abroad.

The latest court decision has galvanized Canadian expatriates, including the most illustrious of all, one Donald Sutherland who penned an opinion piece on the subject: I’m Canadian – and I should have a right to vote.

Expatriate Voting Rights: France, Italy, Croatia …

As a dual citizen of France and Canada with a mandate for French expatriates living in Canada, I have come to realize how few democratic rights Canadian Expats actually have. As a French Citizen living in Canada, I have the right to vote for the President of France. We have twelve senators representing the interests of expatriates around the world and we vote for eleven MPs with specific districts. My Member of Parliament represents French citizens living in Canada and the United States. I also have the right to vote in local elections in a district of my choice, most often the place of birth or of last residence. Imagine that!

France is not the only country with expatriates voting rights: Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Algeria, Tunisia, Colombia and Angola also provide such rights. Italians expatriates elect six senators and twelve members of parliament, Croatians elect six representatives to the Hrvatski sabor. British citizens can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK if you were registered to vote in the UK within the previous 15 years or less for younger electors.

What We Can DO

Isn’t it time Canadian expatriates gained similar rights? With a federal election just around the corner, let’s ask candidates if they’ll support an Act to amend the Constitution Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act so that at least ONE Member of Parliament be elected by Canadian Citizens living abroad and registered at their local Consulate.


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