Canadian Court Challenged on Expat Voting Law


Canadian Court Challenged on Expat Voting Law

The world is full of wacky laws, generally rules which made sense in the dim and distant past but now seem silly. Like the fact it’s illegal to be drunk and in charge of a cow in Scotland. Or the fact that you could be arrested for building a pig sty in front of your house.

However, even some more sensible sounding laws could do with revision – as was proven in court in Ontario earlier this week.

In 1993 Canada introduced the five-year law, which was adopted across the nation in 2007. Under the terms of the five-year rule, expats have their voting rights capped at five years.

Any Canadian citizens who haven’t been resident in Canada for five years lose their right to vote in the nation’s elections and must ‘resume residency’ in Canada before leaving the nation again if they want to have a say in Canadian politics.

Now two Canadian men who left the nation to live in the US for study/employment are fighting a law which they call ‘arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional’ in a land which has always prided itself in being a leading figure in voting rights.

During the proceedings the lawyer representing the defendants argued; ‘Most people voting will be residents in Canada and there’s no issue and this isn’t changing that. The point is that if you’re not resident, you’re still entitled to have your voting rights recognized. We’ve interpreted our Charter rights very strongly to say these rights are of fundamental importance and so the court should follow that. These people care about Canada not in just an abstract or sentimental way but also in a practical or real way. They will be impacted directly by the direction the country is moving in.’

The Federal Government believes that the current law means that Canadians retain their democratic rights while ensuring that sufficient links must exist between Canada and its citizens, but one of the men challenging the law argued that ‘Disenfranchising citizens and disabling them from voting basically tells them that they’re second class. It’s an affront to my dignity and to my citizenship.’

What do you think about the Canadian law?

Should it be revised?

Should all expats be entitled to vote in their home nations no matter how long they’ve lived abroad?

Let us know your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter or leave a comment in The Expat Hub forum!

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