Canadian expat disenfranchisement trap heading for Supreme Count ruling

Published:  20 Mar at 6 PM
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It may come as a surprise to affected British expats that Canadian expats are being caught in the same disenfranchisement trap as their counterparts from the UK, but after just five, not 15 years!

The Canadian law which states expatriate citizens are disallowed from voting after an absence of five years was first enacted in 1993, but was more or less left on the back burner until the Harper government cracked down with its policy of rigid enforcement. For the first time, an attempt to have the law repealed is now due for a hearing in Canada’s Supreme Court in the hopes that sanity will prevail.

It’s taken several years to get the case to the highest court in the land, after the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed a decision to dump the law made by a lower court. The Ontario court’s decision was based on wording similar to that used this week in the UK battle for enfranchisement, in that ‘long term expats had cut their connections with Canada to improve their livelihoods and had opted out of the accepted social contract’.

Justifications of the above type will be difficult to prove as it’s obvious Canadian expats have not abandoned their social contracts by moving overseas, with the vast majority eager to use their entitlement to choose their own government. Another point well worth taking into account is that Canadian citizens living overseas are still bound by a number of criminal laws which apply worldwide. Voting and the wish to vote gives a sense of home and belonging to expats, the majority of whom may well return permanently at some time in their lives.
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