Elections Canada stops enforcing expat five-year rule after court ruling

Elections Canada has stopped enforcing a voting ban on citizens living abroad for more than five years in light of a court decision that struck down the provisions, the agency announced Tuesday. In a statement, the voting regulator said those Canadians can apply now to vote in federal elections and byelections

TORONTO — Elections Canada has stopped enforcing a voting ban on citizens living abroad for more than five years in light of a court decision that struck down the provisions, the agency announced Tuesday.

In a statement, the voting regulator said those Canadians can apply now to vote in federal elections and byelections.

“The decision is effective immediately,” the agency said. “Accordingly, Elections Canada will no longer apply those provisions.”

As many as 1.4 million more Canadians are now eligible to vote, some of whom could end up casting ballots in the four byelections Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced for June 30.

Two Canadians living in the U.S. had challenged the rules that disenfranchised expatriates abroad for five years or more. They argued the provisions were arbitrary and unreasonable, and therefore violated their constitutional right as citizens to vote.

An Ontario Superior Court justice recently agreed with them.

In his ruling, Justice Michael Penny noted that mass murderers have the right to vote, but the long-term expats, “who care deeply about Canada,” do not have the right.

Penny rejected government arguments that allowing non-residents to vote was somehow unfair to resident Canadians.

The Opposition New Democrats said on Tuesday the court and Elections Canada decisions don’t go far enough.

They called for legislative changes to bring the Canada Elections Act into alignment with the rulings, which they hailed as a “victory.”

“While the courts struck down the law, the legislation still reads as is,” said New Democrat MP Megan Leslie, who previously introduced a private member’s bill to make the required changes.

“Passing the bill would enshrine that right to vote in legislation.”

A spokesman for Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, said the government was still studying the court ruling but noted it does not affect the controversial proposed Fair Elections Act.

As of now, Elections Canada said, Canadian citizens aged 18 or older who reside abroad may apply to be added to the international register of electors and vote by mail-in special ballot.

They do have to have lived in Canada at some point.

The agency said it would mail a special-ballot voting kit to all eligible electors on the register.

The rule disenfranchising Canadians abroad for more than five years was enacted in 1993 amid debate about the strength of their ties to Canada and their knowledge of domestic politics.

However, the five-year clock reset for those who returned even for short visits until 2007, when Elections Canada began enforcing the requirement for expats to “resume residency” to regain their right to vote abroad.

In their court challenge, Montreal-born Jamie Duong, 30, of Ithaca, N.Y., and Toronto-born Gillian Frank, 35, of Princeton, N.J., argued they retained deep ties and interest in Canada.

Expats pay about $6 billion in income taxes to the Canadian treasury, despite using fewer resources than their in-country counterparts, according to estimates.

Just Posted

Blackfalds firefighter battling cancer

A volunteer firefighter in Blackfalds for 15 years, Dave Sutherland now battling… Continue reading

Red Deer transit users are concerned about the future

But recreation centre users are glad facility hours were maintained

Community cardiac awareness dinner and show to be held

Continued focus to bring cardiac catheterization lab to Red Deer

Red Deer businesses react to 2.02 per cent tax increase for 2018

Chamber would prefer zero increase, while DBA thinks it’s reasonable

Bring on the rodeo says Red Deer County mayor

Canadian Finals Rodeo’s move to Red Deer good for whole region, says Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month