Confusing vote rules for expats ‘ridiculous;’ Elections Canada denies blame

More on expatriate voting and the rules that apply:

The finger-pointing highlights the confusing rules in play, which include:

  • Long-term expats, with some exceptions such as diplomats, cannot vote from abroad;
  • Long-term expats can vote in person at an advance poll or on election day in the riding they lived in before leaving Canada;
  • Long-term expats cannot vote under rules allowing resident Canadians, who will be away during the voting period, to vote at their local returning office;
  • Long-term expats can run in any riding in the country, if they meet other basic requirements;
  • Long-term expats who become candidates cannot vote for themselves, unless running in the riding in which they last lived before leaving Canada.

The current situation is patently absurd, O’Kurley said.

“All this ridiculous hair-splitting over time and place would be so unnecessary if the only litmus test for voting was citizenship,” O’Kurley said. “Policies that suppress Canadians’ ability to participate in their democracy are not worthy of Canadian democratic leadership in the world.”

O’Kurley noted that Elections Canada facilitates voting for long-term expats who work for the Canadian government, but not if they work for a private Canadian company.

Elections Canada conceded the legislation can be confusing but said it only enforces rules made by government _ and it’s up to government to fix any problems.

While I disagree with Kurley (perhaps a better test would be citizenship and filing a Canadian tax return would a future government wish to go down that road), making the rules clearer and more consistent should be doable.

Source: Confusing vote rules for expats ‘ridiculous;’ Elections Canada denies blame

Long-term Canadian expats lose right to vote, court decides

Good call and passes the common sense test.

In a split decision, the Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that had restored the right of more than one million long-term expats to vote.

Canada’s “social contract” entails citizens submitting to laws because they had a voice in making them through voting, the ruling states.

“Permitting all non-resident citizens to vote would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis but have little to no practical consequence for their own daily lives,” Justice George Strathy wrote for the majority court.

“This would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws.”

Strathy said the relevant part of the Canada Elections Act aimed to strengthen the country’s system of government. While it infringed on the rights of the expats, he said, the infringement is reasonable and can be justified in a free and democratic society.

Two Canadians living in the United States — Montreal-born Jamie Duong and Toronto-born Gillian Frank — launched the constitutional challenge, arguing the five-year rule was arbitrary and unreasonable. Both argued they had only left for educational and employment opportunities and still had strong attachments to Canada and a stake in its future.

In May last year, Superior Court Justice Michael Penny threw out the voting ban, noting that mass murderers have the right to cast ballots but long-term expats who care deeply about the country do not. Penny also said expats could well be subject to Canadian tax and other laws.

The Appeal Court said Penny’s judgment was clouded by the government’s assertion that expats “do not have the same connection” to Canada as residents.

“This caused the debate to be cast as whether non-resident citizens were worthy of the vote,” said Strathy. “As a result, he overlooked Canada’s democratic tradition and the importance of the social contract between Canada’s electorate and Parliament.”

Long-term Canadian expats lose right to vote, court decides – The Globe and Mail.