Feds appeal expat voting decision

A court decision that handed the right to vote to more than one million Canadians who have lived outside the country for more than five years will be appealed, the Conservative government said Monday.

A court decision that handed the right to vote to more than one million Canadians who have lived outside the country for more than five years will be appealed, the Conservative government said Monday.

In addition, Ottawa said it would seek a stay of the ruling, dashing hopes some expatriates might have had of voting in the byelections scheduled for the end of the month.

“Non-residents should have a direct and meaningful connection to Canada and to their ridings in order to vote in federal elections,” Pierre Poilievre, minister of state responsible for democratic reform, said in a statement.

“For over two decades, Canada’s policy has limited to five years the length of time someone can be abroad and still vote. That is fair and reasonable.”

The application to put the ruling on hold pending the appeal is expected to be heard on June 20.

Last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny struck down parts of the Canada Elections Act that barred Canadian citizens who have lived abroad for more than five years from voting.

Two Canadians living in the United States had launched the constitutional challenge, arguing the five-year rule was arbitrary and unreasonable.

The duo are disappointed with Ottawa’s decision to appeal, their lawyer Shaun O’Brien told The Canadian Press.

“We’re going to fight against the stay, we’re going to fight against the appeal, we’re going to put forward the same arguments,” O’Brien said.

“Justice Penny’s judgment was correct and it’s a very strong judgment.”

In his decision, Penny said mass murderers have the right to vote but long-term expats, who “care deeply” about Canada, do not.

Penny rejected Ottawa’s contention that allowing non-resident Canadians to vote is unfair because those living here are, on a day-to-day basis, subject to Canada’s laws and live with the consequences of Parliament’s decisions.

The judge also rejected the government’s request to put his decision on hold for 12 months.

In its notice of appeal, the federal government says Penny made several legal errors, among them that Parliament is obliged to “facilitate unlimited voting rights” for expatriates.

“The judge (also) made an error of mixed fact and law in concluding that the attorney general’s argument was based on the assumption that someone who has not lived in Canada for five years or more is unworthy of the franchise,” the notice states.

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 in Canada to regain their right to vote abroad if they left again.

In their constitutional challenge, Montreal-born Jamie Duong, 30, of Ithaca, N.Y., and Toronto-born Gillian Frank, 35, of Princeton, N.J., argued they had only left Canada for educational and employment opportunities.

Both said they still have a strong attachment to Canada and a stake in its future.

Just Posted

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

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