Canadian expats launch campaign for right to vote

Other expats might be surprised to learn that Canadians living in Costa Rica can lose the right to vote in their country’s elections.

Joan Ritchie Dewar, a local organizer of a crowd-sourcing campaign for a court appeal, say the situation affects thousands of Canadian expats here.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives Canadian citizens the right to vote,” said Mrs. Dewar.  “There is no qualification regarding place of residence.  Prisoners and the mentally retarded have the right to vote.  Yet, if we’ve lived abroad more than five years, we don’t!”

Canadians living around the world have launched a Gofundme campaign to raise $50,000 to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to challenge the unjust law that strips 1.4 million Canadians living abroad of their right to vote, said a news release about the campaign.

Two Canadian citizens, Gillian Frank of Princeton, New Jersey, and Jamie Duong of Ithaca, New York, started the “Our Right to Vote” campaign. Gillian and Duong filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government in canadiansvote0826152012 after they were denied their right to vote in the 2011 federal election, the release said.

Expats here said that the legal battle was a see-saw situation since 1993.

“For a while, we could reset the five-year clock by returning on vacation,” Mrs. Dewar said. “That ended in 2011.  In 2012 a lawsuit was filed by Canadians currently living and working in the U.S.A.  In 2014 they won, and now in 2015 it has been overruled, creating a backlash amongst expat Canadians around the world.”

In a split decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a ruling July 21, said the press release.

The campaign said it is encouraging all Canadians, wherever their residence, to get involved by supporting the GoFundMe campaign. The campaign already has raised $5,500 as of early today.

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