SHOULD EXPATS HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE?

Unlike the United States, Canada does not pay all that much attention to citizens who leave the county to live abroad.  While citizens of the United States who live out of the country maintain the right to vote in U.S. elections, and Italy and other  countries allow citizens abroad to elect Members of Parliament, Canada revokes the right to vote after five years abroad.

Incidentally, Canadians living in the United States are seven times more likely than those in Canada to have a professional or doctoral degree and more than twice as likely to have a batchelor’s degree, making them a potentially influential group who would prize the vote.

A survey by the Asia Pacific Foundation just out today show that 51 per cent of Canadians believe that those who live outside Canada should have the same voting rights as other Canadians, compared to 43 per cent who were opposed.  At present there are about three million Canadians living elsewhere in the world.  If they all had the vote it could make a signficant difference in some close ridings.

Should Canadian expats who have abandoned their country continue to have the right to vote in Canadian elections?

What do you think?

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13 Comments »

  1. 1
    Trev Says:

    Why not? I wonder how many Canadians live abroad?
    My uncle Stan moved to Florida many years ago, so until expats can vote, that’s one less vote for the Tories.

  2. 2
    Barbara Says:

    USAmericans have to file their income tax forms — even if they do not owe any — every year and a statement to the Dept of the Treasury of their financial accounts. There are responsibilities with every right. The vote is the right of every citizen in the USA.

    I am glad I can vote in the USA. I choose to vote only federally because I am too out of touch with local politics. Keeping up with the federal is not all that difficult from Canada. I wonder if the reverse is true.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    About three million Canadians live abroad.

    Barbara, I agree with you about local municipal politics but I try to keep up with what is going on in the province.

  4. 4

    Neil writes:

    …Canada revokes the right to vote after five years abroad

    Are you sure about that? Although I am back in Canada now (i don’t know for how long), while I was in Arizona for 16 years I did not miss one federal general election. Once I had registered with Elections Canada they always sent me absentee ballots (or whatever they’re called) like clockwork once general elections came about.

  5. 5

    What is the reasoning behind not allowing expats to vote? Is it that they aren’t contributing to the treasury with taxes?

    If so, then the argument can be made that only property owners or those who pay tax should have the right to vote.

  6. 6

    Tony, the reasoning behind not allowing expats to vote is because they would, in effect, have an affect on a country where they no longer live.

    Why would I want to allow you to upset my apple cart when you’re not even involved in making the pies?

    I vote no. In order to vote, one must not only be a citizen, one must also be a resident.

  7. 7
    Barbara Says:

    I see your point, Lady Janus, but is voting not a right for citizens? How can you remove a right like that? There are folks who keep in touch and perhaps have more knowledge about the situation than some who live within Canada and vote. What about giving residents who are in Canada but not citizens the vote? Just wondering how this right to vote works in Canada.

  8. 8
    littlepatti Says:

    I think that ex pats have every right to vote, I don’t think their small numbers influence the outcome.

  9. 9

    Barbara, voting carries a residential restriction already. You already must be a resident of a constituency for a specific amount of time before you are allowed to vote in that particular constituency, whether it be federal, provincial, or municipal.

    And, since voters actually vote for specific candidates on each ballot, for whom would you imagine ex-pats be allowed to vote?

  10. 10
    Barbara Says:

    Thank you for your clarification, Lady Janus. In the States I vote at my last legal address. I haven’t resided there in over 40 years. No one I know lives there. I have only ever voted absentee since I voted that way in grad school. I can request a full ballot or merely a federal ballot and I request the latter. Something like that could be done in Canada if it fits with Canadian views on the right to vote.

  11. 11
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Last legal address determined which riding’s candidates I voted for for 16 years.

    You stand corrected, “Lady” Janus.

  12. 12

    Tony, Lady is not a euphemism. It is an honorific. What problem do you have with that?

    And if you don’t live in a constituency, why would you think you can make determinations for those who do?

  13. 13

    “Lady” Janus writes:

    Tony, Lady is not a euphemism. It is an honorific. What problem do you have with that?

    Oh, sorry, I did not realize you were married to a “Lord”. Or perhaps the Queen bestowed the honorific on you directly. I will henceforth treat you with all the specialness you seem to believe you have coming to you.

    “Lady” Janus further writes:

    And if you don’t live in a constituency, why would you think you can make determinations for those who do?

    I don’t think I can make such determinations; but the Parliament of Canada, in their wisdom, obviously think I can because that is how they wrote the law. Heck, I’m just trying to be a responsible person by voting.

    If you prefer that I don’t, may I suggest that you lobby your Member of Parliament and get him/her to change the law.


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