13 October 2015

#73 See the World and Vote No More

When people travel and see the world, they tend to broaden their perspectives on many issues. When they live somewhere else, the effect can be even more pronounced. Not that it isn’t possible to have an entirely illusory experience of a foreign country, confined to a resort or to some kind of sheltered residential situation.

A large number of countries with expatriates living around the world make provisions for these people to vote, and some even provide for representation for the populations of their citizens abroad. Not Canada. Not anymore.

No, the recent changes to the Elections Act (the so-called “Fair Elections Act”, another example of the over-the-top and inaccurate naming of legislation by the outgoing government) have specified that Canadians who have lived outside the country for more than five years do not have the right to vote. Those who have lived outside the country for less than five years will also face some additional hurdles in terms of the identification and other information they must provide.

The judge who first declared these provisions unconstitutional was unconvinced by the government’s argument that Canadians who don’t live inside the country don’t have to live with the consequences of the laws adopted by Parliament on a day-to-day basis, so they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I guess they forgot about the federal government also being responsible for foreign affairs, which tends to touch those people more than the Canadians who stay at home.

Unfortunately, the first judge’s decision was overturned on appeal and the request to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada will not be heard in time for expatriates to vote this time around. I suppose that the lesson is that democracy is really only applicable to those the government determines to be worthy of it.

Further reading here

If you dare to live
outside the “greatest country”
your vote is forfeit

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