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VOTE: Should Ex-Pats Be Allowed To Vote?

Ontario's top court ruled that Canadians who live abroad can't vote in Canada.

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Sorry, Canadians living in other countries. The Ontario Court of Appeal issued a ruling today saying you don't have the right to vote if you've been away more than five years.

Via giphy.com

You might think, as the applicants argued, that being a Canadian citizen means you have the right to vote. But nope.

About 1.4 million Canadians have lived abroad for over five years. One of the three appeal court judges found that voting is a cornerstone of democracy and depriving citizens of this basic right would turn these people into second-class citizens.

But the other two judges ruled that ex-pats contributing to making laws that don't actually effect them "would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws."

So it's not personal. Also not personal: the government spending over a million dollars fighting for the power to ban ex-pats from voting.

Via giphy.com

It's not that you're "less worthy of the vote," the court told ex-pats. It's that you have a diminished connection to the social contract that makes up Canada.

After all, people living abroad don't pay taxes in Canada, they're not subject to Canadian law, they can't receive health insurance or social assistance or even be summoned for jury duty.

The issue will likely besettled by the Supreme Court of Canada eventually. This University of Waterloo prof, at least, thinks the top court will overturn the voting ban.

2/ Arguably, then, it is a problem to take a right grounded in citizenship and impose restrictions based on residency.

4/ But the five-year rule: 1) appears to apply to expats who still pay some Canadian taxes, 2) is arguably too short - why 5 years?

6/ And I happen to think Sauve was wrongly decided (an unpopular opinion among academics, I know). But that's the jurisprudence we have.

  1. So let's put it to a vote. Should long-term ex-pats be allowed to vote?

    No, if they want to vote that badly they should have to endure a rural Manitoba winter.
    I'd like to move to New York someday, so yes.

VOTE: Should Ex-Pats Be Allowed To Vote?

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So let's put it to a vote. Should long-term ex-pats be allowed to vote?
  1.  
    vote votes
    No, if they want to vote that badly they should have to endure a rural Manitoba winter.
  2.  
    vote votes
    I'd like to move to New York someday, so yes.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at paul.mcleod@buzzfeed.com.

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