When Alberta and Ontario held their byelections this past June, some 1.4 million Canadians were almost denied the right to cast their ballots. These Canadians have been living abroad, and thanks to an amendment made to the Canada Elections Act in 1993, they are barred from voting in Canadian elections if they’ve been out of the country for five years or more.
But, just days before the elections took place, a ruling from an Ontario Court of Appeal judge made it possible for all Canadians, regardless of how long they’d been abroad, to have their say in Ontario and Alberta.
Justice Robert Sharpe denied the federal government’s request for stay of a lower court decision — a decision that declared a law banning Canadians from voting as unconstitutional.
“A court will only grant a stay where it is satisfied, after careful review of the facts and circumstances of the case, that the public interest and the interests of justice warrant a stay,” said Justice Sharpe, regarding his decision to deny the stay.
“It’s disappointing and unfortunate that the government feels it is necessary to pursue this case when it has little chance of success,” Rudolph told The Lawyers Weekly for their article Feds suffer stiff rebuke in expat case. “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and unfair because the government has unlimited resources, and it is difficult for the other side to get its costs.”
Sharing a similar sentiment, Toronto lawyer Shaun O’Brien told The Lawyers Weekly, “I don’t understand the public policy reasons why they are pursuing this. In a globalized world, we should be fostering connections with Canadians living abroad. Why are we pushing away rather than drawing in Canadians like Mark Carney and Wayne Gretzky?”
Rudolph Kischer works with partners Alex Stojicevic and Gordon Maynard to deliver expert advice on Canadian immigration and citizenship law. As Vancouver-based immigration lawyers, Rudolph and his partners at Maynard Kischer Stojicevic have gained years of experience working with both businesses and individuals on immigration issues.