A month after the statutory restoration of expat Canadians' voting rights, Supreme Court says taking those rights away was illegal

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/12/voting-eh.html


The summary of the dissenting opinion as reported in the article (note unlike the US that does not mean the ones from the other side of the political divide):

In a dissenting minority opinion, justices Suzanne Cote and Russell Brown called the five-year restriction reasonable. They note not all Canadians – such as those who have never lived in Canada – are allowed to vote. This decision will change that, they said.

“We see this development as regressive, undermining the long-standing and entirely salutary practice in Westminster parliamentary democracies of privileging local connections in deciding who may elect local representatives,” Cote and Brown said.

If you are not eligible to vote by mail, you can vote in person at an advance poll or on election day.

Well that solves it. It’s not like that is a huge financial burden. Just take you private jet and while your at it have a banana while you vote. elections.ca

From Arrested Development, S1 Ep5 Charity Drive, Gif found at Giphy

What was the threat to letting citizens living abroad more than 5 years vote? (As noted, none) I kind of want to read the verbiage that lead to the law in the first place.


Well, it was initially triggered by the “discovery” that there were a heck of a lot of dual citizen Lebanese living in Lebanon that needed to get out quickly. Which led to the discovery the same applied to an awful lot of people in India. The thing these people had in common of course was that they were brown. And then there were all the Hong Kong folks driving up Vancouver real estate prices.

All of these people were a little over-endowed with melanin of course. Which led to a certain small amount of white panic, which was catnip to Conservatives, they thought they could make some political bank on it. Didn’t really work out for them though.


As I read it, 1993 though 2018, that is a quarter century. That’s a long run for disenfranchising a group of people.

Nothing like in America the state of Florida’s 1868-2018 150 year long run of a Jim Crow law. Of course, women were not allowed to vote until 1920, but Florida didn’t ratify the 19ᵗʰ Amendment 1969, but did confer voting to all (except those it selectively excluded) in 1921. Then again, it’s one of the states that still hasn’t ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, but at this point it may just be symbolic. I’m not picking on Florida, just the opposite. I noting that in a conservative run government it gave a large group of people suffrage. I am sure where I live has motes in it’s own eye.

Thank you for the background.

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How long do they have to abide by the ruling? Could they be trying to drag their heels as long as possible to discourage registering? And if so, can they be sued for doing that?

Naw, it isn’t bias, the government and the supreme court are in agreement. Its just Elections Canada incompetence.



I’ve been a dual citizen since something like 1979, and I never voted. Maybe I’ll start!
I live in the US and my mother was Canadian. At that time, that gave me an opening to apply for citizenship, which I did.
On the other hand, I tried to contribute to the Liberal Party and found that I couldn’t because I don’t have a Canadian address. Wonder if that will change.

This is pretty exciting. I’m a Canadian born citizen, and although I now live in the states I still play close attention to Canadian politics. I’ve never been legally able to vote in Canada. I’ve only been American for a couple of years and someone who saw me on election day noted that I was the happiest voter they’d ever seen. I take this right an obligation very seriously, and it really warms my soul to know I’ll be able to vote in Canada for the first time next year.

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So is there another way to register? By email or by post even? Perhaps even a way to petition the site to be updated? I can’t see a way around this at present.

In order to expat vote, you still have to have lived in Canada at some point.

(Being born there counts.)

This is the case for the UK as well - I’ve lived overseas in various countries (US, Canada, Australia, NZ, and Italy) for almost all my adult life and after being away for ten years I was told I could no longer register to vote (have my name placed on the electoral register is, I believe, the UK terminology.

This, of course, was particularly egregious (and deliberate) during the Brexit vote, because of course those of who choose to live in other countries while remaining British were almost guaranteed to vote “stay” and were therefore excluded. However, if I continue to hold a British passport and continue to pay UK taxes (an admittedly small amount) I should be able to vote in British elections - especially if I cannot vote anywhere else.

It’s extremely ironic to me that a Venezuelan friend who lives in the US and his brother who lives in Spain are both eligible and encouraged to vote in Presidential and legislative elections while those of us from the mother of democracies are excluded for no good cause.

Does anyone have any favorite writings that make the case for expat voting, politically and philosophically? I’m not against it in the least, but it’s something I haven’t thought a lot about and am now curious about. It’s obvious that citizens of a country should vote in elections for that state, but blocking expat voting makes a certain kind of rhetorical sense as it almost seems like the converse of birthright citizenship, that location is more important than other legal or historical facts. “Voting is a core aspect of democracy and a fundamental right of citizenship” is enough for me legally, but not really satisfying intellectually.

A cursory wikipedia-ing shows the UK limiting expats to 15 years, Germany 25 years. The US surprisingly grants unlimited expat voting rights. I would think our “Strip ALL the voting rights!” conservatives would have challenged that one (Though perhaps because it’s more expensive and bureaucratic to be an American expat, so they tend to be richer, where in European countries you can kinda hop around…).

The Globe and Mail makes an interesting case about the state having a vested interest in maintaining the relationship wth expats. Reason makes similar arguments (though in a grosser, more transactional way, of course) resting on the “special” value of expats as educated and wealthier people. These are compelling, but are politically shallow, to me. They both make the taxation argument as well, though a lot of countries exempt a certain level of taxes for “foreign earned” income (in the us, it’s like $90,000) and feels too much like swapping out “citizen” for “taxpayer” in the gross way American conservatives do.

The other big argument the Globe makes, that Canada’s foreign policy affects people living abroad, and that expats might return one day feels solid and practical. However, they also almost feel like arguments for letting everyone vote in everyone’s national elections, given they they may move there one day, and are affected by their foreign policy. Honestly, I’m weirdly not entirely opposed… (This is kinda the point of the UN, right?)

Trying not to be a JAQ-troll, though I admit am trying to elicit the rather thorough and helpful responses JAQ-troll-slayers sometimes deliver on contentious issues I agree with them on, but haven’t thought through as thoroughly…

No taxation without representation isn’t the worst american idea. Even if you don’t pay a dime in taxes, as long as you’re still obligated to file a return, that’s a country asserting that you’re still in an active long-distance citizenship relationship

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