Supreme Court rules voting restrictions on expatriate citizens are unconstitutional

Well, that settles it, even if I disagree with the decision (Opinion: What should the voting rights of Canadian expatriates be).

We will find out just how many of these previously disenfranchised citizens vote in the 2015 election (the chart above covers previous elections):

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled voting restrictions on expatriate citizens are unconstitutional.

Two Canadians working in the United States, Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong, challenged federal voting restrictions after being unable to vote in the federal election of 2011. At the time, the law said non-resident citizens could not vote if they had lived more than five years abroad.

In December, a Liberal bill extending voting rights to long-term expatriates received royal assent. But at stake in the Supreme Court ruling was whether those voting rights could be taken away by a future government.

Dr. Frank, who was born in Toronto and was a Canadian Forces member, and now teaches American Studies at the University of Virginia, explained in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Thursday what it felt like not to be able to vote: “To watch democracy from the outside, it’s sort of like an injury, that acts up every once in a while.”

The court ruled 5-2 that the now-repealed law was unconstitutional. “The disenfranchisement of these citizens not only denies them a fundamental democratic right, but also comes at the expense of their sense of self-worth and their dignity,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote for four of the judges in the majority. (A fifth judge wrote concurring reasons.) “These deleterious effects far outweigh any speculative benefits that the measure might bring about.”​

Mr. Duong, who left Canada in 2001 and works at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., told The Globe on Thursday that he has a strong attachment to his native land. “I was born and raised in Canada; my parents still live in Canada. I’m a Canadian, and it’s my obligation to vote and participate in our democratic process.”

A lower-court judge had found the voting prohibition unconstitutional. But the Ontario Court of Appeal then ruled 2-1 that the law could stand, saying that non-residents do not live with the consequences of their votes on a daily basis. The dissenting judge said the restrictions had the effect of making non-resident Canadians second-class citizens. Dr. Frank and Mr. Duong appealed to the Supreme Court.

They are among 1.4 million Canadians who – as of 2009 – had been living abroad for more than five years.

The 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms says without qualification that every Canadian citizen has the right to vote.

Canada has always had residency restrictions on voting. During the First World War, the restrictions were eased to allow soldiers to vote. Advance voting was established in 1920 for salespeople and sailors. In 1945, proxy voting was allowed for prisoners of war. In 1970, diplomats and other public servants living abroad, and their dependents, were allowed to vote remotely. And in 1993, the vote was extended to citizens who had lived abroad for fewer than five years.

The federal Attorney-General’s office, in its Supreme Court filing, said the limit on expats’ right to vote is fair. “The legal responsibilities of long-term non-resident citizens under Canadian domestic law are much less than the responsibilities of resident Canadians,” it said. It added that similar limits on voting rights are common in other parliamentary systems derived from the British tradition.

Lawyers for Dr. Frank and Mr. Duong, in their written argument filed with the Supreme Court, said that Canadians who leave the country tend to do so for work-related reasons, but maintain their connection to Canada. “The inability to vote leaves them with no voice in the direction or well-being of the country, even though many of them have strong connections, including family in Canada, and wish to return.” Many of them have no right to vote anywhere, they said. They added that the voting restrictions harm the dignity and sense of belonging of expatriates.

The last major case on voting rights was in 2002, and it was one of the Supreme Court’s most controversial in the Charter era. The court ruled 5-4 that federal prisoners could not be denied the right to vote. “Denying citizen law-breakers the right to vote sends the message that those who commit serious breaches are no longer valued as members of the community, but instead are temporary outcasts from our system of rights and democracy,” then-Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote for the majority.

Source: Supreme Court rules voting restrictions on expatriate citizens are unconstitutional
Ironically, the same day as this decision, the Globe published yet another op-ed (think it is the fourth) arguing against limiting voting rights for longer-term expatriates without the author, Yasmin Rafiei, or the Globe, acknowledging that the government had already changed the legislation.
Hardly a demonstration of being connected to Canadian political discourse and developments:

One of Justin Trudeau’s 2015 federal-election campaign lines was, “A Canadian is a Canadian, is a Canadian.”

Unless you live outside of Canada, it seems.

This Friday, the Supreme Court will decide if the democratic franchise of Canadians living overseas should be subject to a five-year limit. A voting ban – which denies Canadians the right to vote in elections after five years living overseas – was legislated in 1993 under Jean Chrétien, enforced under Stephen Harper, and has not yet been overturned under Mr. Trudeau. His government sought to repeal the five-year limit in 2016 via Bill C-33, but in the two years since its introduction, the bill has only achieved a first reading. Its tepid progress in Parliament has ushered the case into the hands of the Supreme Court, where it rests today.

The voting ban raises a fundamental question: What makes a Canadian a Canadian?

It’s a question I contend with in my daily life outside my homeland. I was born and raised in Canada and had only ever studied and worked in Canada until last year. If I have a personal geography, it is tied to my parents, whose immigration to Edmonton from Iran involved embracing every aspect of their new country. My dad had me on skis as soon as I could walk; we hosted neighbourhood street hockey on our driveway; Edmonton’s river valley was, to my mother’s consternation, my second home.

I was raised in our city’s public schools, graduated from the University of Alberta and delivered the faculty address at graduation. However, it was in leaving Canada that I fully came to terms with my national identity.

In 2017, I received a scholarship to study at University of Oxford, where I regularly encounter my identity, as it is perceived outside our national borders. Abroad, my primary identifier is no longer the province I grew up in or where my parents come from, but my nationality as a Canadian. Limiting my right to vote indicates I’ve lost touch with this national identity when, in fact, I renegotiate it every day against its reflection, mirrored to me in my international colleagues’ perceptions of Canada.

I’m hardly alone. A 2010 report by the Asia Pacific Foundation estimated that 2.8 million Canadians live abroad. Comprising about 9 per cent of our national population, our expat community is proportionately larger than that of Australia, the United States, China or India. This group, both substantial in size and highly skilled, should not be treated as a demographic anomaly.

The court’s coming decision demands our collective attention. Our citizenship is enshrined in our constitutional right to vote – in our ability to decide, at election time, what we would like the future of our country to be. By stripping this right away after five years, our government makes a resounding judgment that expatriates are less Canadian because we live abroad.

Limiting voting rights also discourages valuable expatriates from returning to Canada. My departure was incited by educational opportunity: After two years studying politics at Oxford, I’ll spend four years studying medicine at Stanford University. Despite my time away, my right to vote enables me to decide the state of the home I plan on returning to. Under the current legislation, I will have effectively exchanged my graduate and doctoral degrees for that right.

The critique frequently levelled against extending voting rights is that expats have broken the social contract: We do not pay taxes (although most do). But at the heart of this critique rests a dangerous assumption: that constitutional rights ought only to be afforded to those who can pay for them. By this logic, should the impoverished not vote? Do we give the rich more votes? This thinking could set an odious precedent for further excisions of voting rights.

And it would be to Canada’s benefit to expand voting rights beyond geographic boundaries. My status abroad, for instance, facilitates my work on the Ebola virus and antimicrobial resistance, biosecurity threats that don’t know borders. I study and work alongside Canadian expats driven to resolve climate change, cyberattacks, and mass migration – issues demanding global co-operation. A postnational Canada that enables citizens to vote outside of its borders provides international depth to civic engagement – but also supports citizens living overseas and confronting global challenges.

Beliefs that Canada is a nation-state bounded by its geography do more harm than good. Being Canadian is not about where you live: It’s about contributing to, improving, and stewarding a community forward through challenges, domestic and abroad. Whatever Canada is in the future, it is ours together – and our voting rights need to reflect that.

Source: Why should Canadian expats suffer for suffrage?

Supreme Court to grapple with murky legal rights of immigration detainees

A case to watch:

Should an immigration detainee have the same right to challenge their ongoing detention as their criminally convicted peers?

That’s the quandary at the centre of a Supreme Court of Canada case opening on Wednesday in Ottawa.

While Canadian citizens serving a jail sentence are entitled to argue their case before a judge, foreign nationals held for immigration violations must appear before a federal tribunal, which has been criticized for rubber-stamping their continued incarceration.

Canada’s highest court is being asked to clarify if immigration detainees are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and can access what is legally known as habeas corpus — a legal recourse that allows anyone held by the state to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.

Until now, immigration detention has been a murky area of law between two levels of authority — the federal government, which is responsible for immigration matters and runs the tribunal, and the provinces, which are in charge of detention facilities.

Provincial courts often defer to the Federal Court to deal with immigration detention through judicial reviews, but these reviews only examine if any legal errors are made by immigration officials in detaining or releasing an individual. The federal judges don’t consider the lawfulness of an immigration detention, and all they can do is send a case back for a new decision.

The Supreme Court case is centred on Pakistani immigration detainee Tusif Ur Rehman Chhina, who had been held for almost 30 months while officials tried to deport him.

In Ontario, long-time immigration detainees have been asking the provincial court to release them on habeas corpus since 2015. In September, Ebrahim Toure, who had been held for 5-1/2 years, won his freedom on the same grounds.

“What we are saying is it’s advantageous and preferable for immigration detainees to have direct access to habeas corpus,” said Barbara Jackman, one of the three lawyers representing Chhina. “Habeas corpus is a right, not a discretion.”

Chhina arrived in Canada in 2006 and was soon granted asylum. However, he was ordered deported in December 2010 after a series of criminal convictions here. Border officials made three failed attempts to obtain travel documents from Pakistan for Chhina’s deportation while keeping him behind bars.

In 2016, Chhina claimed to the Alberta provincial court that his lengthy detention was unlawful. The request was denied after a judge ruled the matter was beyond the provincial court’s jurisdiction.

Chhina’s lawyer Nico Breed then took the case to the Alberta appeal court and won. His client was finally deported in September 2017, but the Public Safety Minister and Attorney General of Canada proceeded with the appeal to the Supreme Court.

In their submissions, government lawyers said immigration detainees are entitled to regular independent reviews, which must justify their continued detention or grant their release.

“In immigration matters, provincial superior courts ought to decline the exercise of jurisdiction to grant prerogative relief, including habeas corpus,” the federal government argued in its submission to the Supreme Court.

“There is no need to depart from that approach when reviewing immigration detention decisions of allegedly lengthy and uncertain duration.”

However, immigration lawyers have argued the odds are stacked against detainees the longer they are held.

“The system is structurally against the detainee. The tribunal looks at the reason the person is held and racks up more reasons not to release him,” said Jackman.

Even if the Supreme Court rules in favour of her client, Jackman said she doesn’t believe provincial courts will be inundated by immigration detainees because the majority are released in under three months.

Last year, 3,557 people were held in immigration detention in Canada. Eighty-eight per cent of detainees were released within 90 days. But in 80 cases, people were held for more than a year.

Source: Supreme Court to grapple with murky legal rights of immigration detainees

Birthplace doesn’t necessarily guarantee citizenship, feds argue at Supreme Court

Have been engaging on Twitter on this case and striking that this press report seemed to miss the focus of the government’s brief: whether the children of spies not working out of a diplomatic mission should be entitled or not to birthright citizenship.

As the factum notes:

98. The Registrar’s interpretation is also consistent with the interpretive principle of avoiding absurdity. The result of the majority’s interpretation is that the children of foreign intelligence agents posted to an embassy and benefiting from diplomatic privileges and immunities (e.g. by posing as “economic development officers”) are caught by s. 3(2)(a), while the children of undercover intelligence agents engaged in surreptitious espionage are not. Justice Bell recognized this absurdity on judicial review,147 but the majority dismissed it on appeal as a policy choice – despite the presumption against absurdity being a well-established principle of statutory interpretation.148

99. Indeed, the policy preference that the majority cited is itself somewhat illogical and results in anomalous outcomes. Here, Vavilova and Bezrukov’s purpose for being in Canada was the same as the other categories of persons in s. 3(2)(a) of the Act, namely, to serve their home government, in their case through their undercover work as long term Illegals for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service. Like the other persons listed in s. 3(2)(a), their presence and employment in Canada was intended to advance their state’s interests.

100. As the majority indicates, its preferred interpretive policy choice for s. 3(2)(a) of the Act tries to avoid visiting “the sins of the parents” upon Vavilov, whose parents were undercover Russian spies, but has no difficulty in visiting those same “sins” on the children of accredited diplomats or foreign spies merely because they operate out of an embassy. In any event, this is not a case about the “sins” of Vavilov’s parents, but rather their employment as Russian spies and their duty and service to Russia at the time of his birth in Canada. When considered in this way, the provision provides for the same outcome for both of these categories of persons in Canada in the service of a foreign government. In both cases, the children’s citizenship status is a result of their parents’ chosen employment. By contrast, the majority’s interpretation results in a more favourable outcome for the children of those whose employment is surreptitious and undertaken by fraudulent means.

The CP artilce:

International law does not require Canada to give citizenship to babies born on its soil, the federal government is telling the Supreme Court — an argument that could inadvertently bolster a recent Conservative party resolution aimed at stemming so-called birth tourism.

Canada is one of fewer than three dozen countries that follow the practice of citizenship based on birthplace and some — including Australia and Britain — have modified or ended automatic birthright in recent years, the government says in a case that will determine whether the Toronto-born sons of Russian spies are Canadian citizens.

“Indeed, no European countries, for example, grant an unqualified automatic citizenship by birth and they have no obligation to do so,” the federal submission says.

“Only 34 countries grant the automatic acquisition of citizenship through birthplace regardless of parents’ nationality or status. This practice is not consistent and uniform enough to ground a rule of customary international law.”

Federal lawyers are playing down the concept of automatic citizenship in laying out the reasons the government believes Alexander and Timothy Vavilov — the offspring of Russian intelligence agents — should not be recognized as Canadian citizens, even though they were born in Ontario.

The federal Liberals adopted a decidedly different tone recently after the Conservatives passed a policy resolution calling on the government to enact legislation to end birthright citizenship “unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says one of the goals is to end the practice of women coming to Canada simply to give birth to a child that will automatically attain Canadian citizenship.

Refugee and human rights advocates have objected, saying there is no evidence of a birth tourism problem to solve and that the Conservative policy would open the door to stateless children being born in Canada.

Birthright isn’t set in stone

Following passage of the resolution, Mathieu Genest, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, said it’s a “shame to see the Conservatives going back down the path established by the Harper government, which seeks to strip away the citizenship of people who have only ever known Canada as a home.”

Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, called the Conservative policy “a deeply wrong and disturbing idea.”

However, the federal submission to the Supreme Court strongly suggests the legal notion of automatic birthright is not carved in stone.

It notes even those states that have chosen to grant citizenship to children born on their soil are not prohibited from applying exceptions. “A review of citizenship entitlements in various countries reveals a multitude of variations and restrictions on automatic citizenship by birth.”

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in December in the case of the Vavilov brothers.

“In short, nothing in international law requires Canada to bestow citizenship on the basis of birth, much less to give citizenship to children born to parents in the service of a foreign government,” the written federal submission says.

Two years ago, the government took a rosier view of the concept in a formal response to a petition against birthright citizenship sponsored by Conservative MP Alice Wong.

John McCallum, immigration minister at the time, pointed out that the United States and Mexico, as well as a number of other countries in the Americas, such as Brazil and Argentina, provide citizenship based on birthplace.

“While there may be instances of expectant mothers who are foreign nationals who travel to Canada to give birth, requiring that a parent be a citizen or permanent resident in order for their child to acquire citizenship through birth in Canada would represent a significant change to how Canadian citizenship is acquired,” McCallum added.

Source: Birthplace doesn’t necessarily guarantee citizenship, feds argue at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether long-term Canadian expats can vote

Will be interesting to see how they rule (for my previous piece on why I oppose unlimited voting rights, see What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options and Canadian expats shouldn’t have unlimited voting rights, the latter written with Rob Vineberg):

Canada’s top court is set to grapple with whether long-term expats should be allowed to vote, an issue that loomed large in the last federal election in which Justin Trudeau and his Liberals took office.

Civil liberties groups, which argue current rules barring the expats from voting are unconstitutional, and Quebec, which supports the federal government’s defence of the restrictions, are among interveners in the closely watched case the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hear on Wednesday.

Canadians lose the right to vote after living abroad for more than five years under rules on the books since 1993. However, it was only under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper that Elections Canada began enforcing the laws.

Two Canadians living and working in the United States launched the case after being denied the right to vote in the 2011 election. They argue that citizenship, not residency, is the key requisite for voting.

“One way or the other, this is going to get decided and either Canadians will be enfranchised or Canadians will be disenfranchised,” Jamie Duong, one of the appellants, said from Ithaca, N.Y.

Duong and Gill Frank, an academic in Princeton, N.J., initially won their case before Ontario Superior Court in 2014 but the government appealed. In a split decision in 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the restrictions do indeed infringe on the rights of citizens. However, the majority found the violation democratically justified because the rules preserve the “social contract” between voters and lawmakers.

In its Supreme Court filing, the government takes issue with the characterization that long-term expats were “disenfranchised” by the rules enforced under Harper. With few exceptions, no Canadians living abroad were allowed to vote before the 1993 law changes, the government says.

“The impugned provisions enfranchised non-resident citizens by allowing them to vote for the first time in Canadian history, for as long as they met the definition of being temporarily resident outside Canada,” the government states.

In their factum, Duong and Frank argue they maintain a “deep and abiding” connection to Canada even though, like many citizens in a globalized world, they have left the country for employment or educational reasons.

“There is no pressing and substantial objective to justify the legislation,” the pair argue. “Five years is an arbitrary marker, which is not rationally linked to a citizen’s connection to Canada, nor to being subject to Canadian laws.”

Another intervener, the Canadian Expat Association, said the rules have “devalued” the citizenship of those abroad.

“For expats whose identity is deeply Canadian, this expressive harm to their dignity and personhood is demeaning and harmful,” the association says.

In rebuttal, the federal government argues Parliament made a reasonable policy choice in enacting rules designed to maintain the fairness of the electoral system. Canadians living in Canada, the government maintains, are more affected by laws their elected officials enact than are expats.

During the last election, actor Donald Sutherland, Canadian business groups abroad and other expats rallied against Harper and the voting ban. The campaigning Liberals promised a review and in November 2016, the Trudeau government introduced legislation to enable Canadians abroad to vote. However, little has happened since.

Duong said expats — estimates are that more than one million of them are unable to vote — will be keeping a close eye to see what the Supreme Court decides.

“The Canadian expat community that has been supporting us and supporting the fight has been fantastic,” Duong said. “We’ve raised closed to $18,000 from 220 people around the world…that has been helping to cover court expenses.”

Source: The Supreme Court is set to decide whether long-term Canadian expats can vote

Every Canadian should have the right to vote — even those living abroad (pro-expat opinion piece by Ivo Entchev)

Supreme Court judge [Justice Wagner] says Canadians shouldn’t worry about arrival of refugees, migrants 

Thoughtful and pertinent comments, particularly interesting his comments on identity:

Wagner said the notions of identity, human dignity and democratic values permeate the Charter and “lay the foundations for looking beyond our own borders.

“We can welcome refugees and migrants with the confidence that our society is able not only to manage our differences, but to thrive on them,” said Wagner.

Speaking to reporters later, Wagner acknowledged that, while his speech was delivered to a legal and academic audience, there was a message for Canadians concerned about the influx of refugees and migrants.

“We should, I think, welcome all those people and we should be willing to accommodate them and not change them,” he said.

“People should not be afraid of having migrants and refugees in their own countries. I think we’re strong enough and . . . we have strong moral values, and one of those values is the respect for human dignity. And, if we take our role seriously, we’ll look, we’ll adopt the perspective of the other, and it could only, I think, as far as I’m concerned, grow society much better in the future.”

Asked if that means there should be room for face veils and other individual expressions of religious identity, Wagner declined to answer, saying: “I don’t know if those cases will come before the court, so I don’t want to comment.”

Wagner holds one of the three high court seats reserved for Quebec. Quebec’s legislature is now studying a bill to require “religious neutrality” of those who deliver or receive public services, amid calls to ditch the bill in the wake of the slaying of six Muslims at a Quebec City mosque.

Wagner said judges have an “obligation” to try to understand the perspective of a person who says their equality rights are breached, but he added “that doesn’t mean that the claimant is right . . . that doesn’t mean that I would adopt his way, or his reasoning, or his opinion, or his end result.”

In his speech, Wagner admitted early approaches to how judges analyzed discrimination did not stand up to the task. He said Charter interpretation is still “a work in progress,” but, he added, over the past 150 years “the constitution has enabled us to navigate difficult questions of identity.

“Personal and group characteristics are the starting point of Charter equality jurisprudence, but identity is not about labels; it is a shorthand for how people see themselves, how others see them, and how those two things interact in people’s lives.”

Wagner said the Supreme Court looks to the context and experiences of a person claiming discrimination, and seeks to understand the person’s perspective, which is an especially important consideration in cases of aboriginal law or where there are overlapping characteristics of a person’s identity that influence how they experience discrimination.

Wagner said the experience of a woman who is part of a visible minority can be totally different from that of a young man who has the same characteristics. “If one of the two is not a citizen, or has a different sexual orientation, their experience could be even more different.”

“When the court eventually faces a question touching on trans-gender identity, these two propositions will provide essential frames of reference: that identity is not fixed, but changing, and that identity is not innate, but contextual,” he said.

Wagner predicted that, although the principle of “dignity” fell out of favour in judicial analyses of equality claims, it would find new traction in future Charter litigation. It is a crucial consideration when judges weigh whether a rights violation is reasonable and justified. “Equality infringements ought to be increasingly difficult to justify to the extent that it strikes at the heart of someone’s individual or group identity and, with it, their recognition as full participants in Canada’s ongoing democratic dialogue,” he said.

University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes said Wagner’s speech would please equality-seeking groups on the one hand, but he said Wagner also emphasized “democratic values” and “substantive” equality over any superficial concept of equality.

To Mendes, it was a signal from a judge who some suggest could one day become the chief justice of Canada, that the balance won’t always tip in favour of those who feel their rights are breached.

Feds want expat voting rights case adjourned due to proposed legislation

The proposed legislation of C-33 extends voting rights indefinitely, no matter how short the period of living in Canada. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the current five-year maximum absence rule, which was being appealed, with the Government now requesting adjournment given C-33. The appellants are arguing that the case should be heard. To watch.

Given that I do not favour the government’s proposed approach, I think it would be helpful for the Supreme Court to pronounce, as I am not convince by the public rationale nor some of the legal filings made by the appelants:

Proposed legislation granting long-term Canadian expats the right to vote will render a court fight over the issue moot, the federal government argues in new filings.

As a result, the government is calling for a year-long adjournment of a Supreme Court of Canada hearing – set for February – in which two expats were expected to challenge parts of the Canada Elections Act that have disenfranchised them.

“If Bill C-33 is enacted in its current form, the appellants will have the right to vote in future elections,” the government says in its motion to the chief justice. “An adjournment of the appeal is warranted to allow Parliament to debate and consider the bill.”

At issue in the legal battle is a ban on Canadians’ voting in federal elections if they have lived abroad more than five years. Ontario’s top court has upheld the restriction as constitutional, prompting the pending the Supreme Court challenge.

The government says putting the case on hold until the top court’s 2018 winter session would respect Parliament’s role in deciding important public policy issues. It would also be in keeping with not wasting court resources by spending time deciding on an issue that will likely have been resolved and would therefore be “moot,” the government says.

The two plaintiffs, however, argue that Canada’s highest court should reject the government’s adjournment request.

They argue expats won’t be able to vote in at least three byelections scheduled for before the legislation becomes law. They also say it’s not certain the bill – introduced in November – will in fact pass, and that the decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal upholding the voting restrictions was wrong and needs to be dealt with.

The key underlying point, the expats argue, is that the Supreme Court should affirm their right to vote is guaranteed by the Constitution and should not be subject to government whim.

“The appellants are highly vulnerable to any change in policy on protecting the right to vote of non-resident Canadians by future governments,” they say in their court filings. “Review by this court remains necessary, and delay is unwarranted.”

Gillian Frank, one of the two plaintiffs who live in the United States, said he was thrilled the Liberal government introduced Bill C-33, saying it would make Canadian democracy “more robust and inclusive” if passed.

At the same time, he said, the government’s adjournment request is premature and goes against the “democratic spirit” of their promises. In any event, he said, the Ontario Court of Appeal decision cannot be allowed to stand.

“Any government could remove our right to vote in the future,” Frank said in an email Monday. “The Liberals should support Canadians abroad at the (Supreme Court) and help us in our efforts to obtain a decision that will permanently protect our right to vote.”

The federal government has long argued the restriction on expat voting – enacted in 1993 but only enforced under the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper – was a reasonable and legitimate policy decision that in no way violates the Constitution.

Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld that view in July last year, overturning a 2014 ruling that had declared the legislation unconstitutional.

Source: Feds want expat voting rights case adjourned due to proposed legislation – The Globe and Mail

Prayer in Canadian Public Life: a Nation Divided – Angus Reid Institute

Prayer_in_Canadian_Public_Life__a_Nation_Divided_-_Angus_Reid_InstituteThe latest polling on the Supreme Court’s ruling against prayer in public meetings. Key Findings:

  • Just over half (56%) of respondents are in favour of the court’s decision while the rest (44%) are opposed.
  • That support drops to one-third (34%) among the religiously inclined, and jumps to nearly four-fifths (78%) among those who say religion isn’t important to them.
  • In spite of the secularist view on prayer at public meetings, very few (7%) of respondents want to see the lyrics to O Canada changed so that reference to God is removed.

Prayer in Canadian Public Life: a Nation Divided – Angus Reid Institute.

La Charte des valeurs passerait-elle le test des tribunaux? | Le Devoir

A few pieces asking the obvious question as to whether the proposed Quebec Charter will be given a pass by the courts. As the Supreme Court of Canada has a broader understanding of religious accommodation issues, backed up by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the overall consensus, mentioned in earlier articles, is that the Quebec Charter will not ruled compatible with religious freedom:

La Charte des valeurs passerait-elle le test des tribunaux? | Le Devoir.

Why experts think Quebec’s secular charter won’t survive in court