8-14 Macdonell Street,
Guelph, Ontario N1H 6P7
I want to vote in Canadian elections. I have only voted in one Canadian federal election from abroad, in the early 1990s. Now, arguments against restoring voting rights for expatriates who are absent longer than five years and that are based on the premise that foreign residence compromises my responsibility towards this society and thus making a corresponding limitation of my voting rights not unreasonable are ripe with assumptions about who I am, what I think and what my reasons are for living abroad. Personally, I feel very connected with Canada and with my hometown, Guelph. I keep abreast of the issues.
I think the anti-voting rights camp is using the wrong model to frame the issue. Let’s think of it less as a question of the mutuality of the social compact - living within the society and being both responsible for and responsible to it, and vice versa. Let’s think of it in terms of a business model. Even though I live abroad I own property here. I pay taxes here. I am a citizen and a tax payer without a criminal record. The Prime Minister and members of parliament - in fact anyone whose salary comes from the public purse - are my salaried employees. They are my employees and I am their employer. They ought to be doing what I want.
International borders don’t mean much to me, so I distance myself from consideration of proximity to Canadian territory as a measure of my rights. But I think the law that rescinds my voting rights with time are comparable to Republican Party manoeuvres in the U.S. to redraw electoral districts in their party’s favour. It is not structurally the same, but it is functionally comparable. The government wants the voting measure to shape the electorate in its favour.
I have a lot to say about the social compact, government and citizenship, too.
Published in the Guelph Mercury newspaper on Monday, July 27, 2015 as “Expatriates should still have voting rights here.”
The Ontario Court of Appeals recently upheld a Canadian federal government law that rescinds voting rights for Canadian citizens who live outside the country for more than five years. I knew of the law, of course, and I have been subject to it for many years. I did not know that it was being challenged in the Ontario Court of Appeals until a reporter from the Guelph newspaper contacted me by E-mail. The editor of the paper knows me, and he knew that I was in the city on vacation, so the reporter contacted me for a comment as part of a story she was writing. I did not respond to her fast enough to be quoted in her article, but I did write these comments that she passed on to the editor, Phil Andrews, as a letter-to-the-editor.
The Ontario court upheld the ban on voting rights for long-term expatriate on the grounds that it is not an unreasonable restriction on the rights of people who do not live here and are unaffected by the laws here. The decision took a meaning-of-democracy approach to the issue.
What I object to is when others make irrevocable decisions that affect me but without consulting me on the matter. That denies me my constitutional and human right to due process. The definition of due process is that a process that affects me must involve me. Otherwise it is not ``due.``