Canadian Expat Loses Appeal On Right To Vote

By Dex Tennyson, for 22 July, 2015

Ontario's Court of Appeal has confirmed as lawful legislation that removes voting rights for expats who have lived abroad for more than five years.

Canadian law states that a citizen who is non-resident for more than five consecutive years loses their right to vote in federal elections. This five-year rule was challenged in the case of Frank v. Canada (Attorney General) (2015 ONCA 536). The respondents originally received a favorable judgment from the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice, where the Judge held that the Government has no power to take away the voting rights of citizens. This has now been overturned on appeal.

Judge Strathy said: "Canada's political system is based on geographically defined electoral districts. The citizens living in each riding elect a Member of Parliament to represent them. Their representative serves the interests of the community, speaks for the community and participates in making laws that affect the daily activities of all residents of the community. The electorate submits to the laws because it has had a voice in making them. This is the social contract that gives the laws their legitimacy. Permitting all non-resident citizens to vote would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis, but have little to no practical consequence for their own daily lives. This would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws."

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