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Canadian expats launch campaign for right to vote

Special to A.M. Newspapers

Canadians living overseas can lose the right to vote in their country's elections.

Joan Ritchie Dewar, a Costa Rican expat and organizer of a crowd-sourcing campaign
for a court appeal, say the situation affects thousands of Canadian overseas.

"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.
Canadians vote
A graphic from the Web page.
  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 2012 after they were denied their right to vote in the 2011 federal election, the release said.

Expats 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 the 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 more than $8,000. The money goes to cover legal fees, expert witnesses and other dibursement, said the Web site.

— Aug. 29, 2015
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