VOTES FROM AWAY

The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition) - - EDITORIAL -

Yas­min Rafiei sug­gests that there should be no lim­i­ta­tions on the vot­ing rights of ex­pa­tri­ate Cana­di­ans (Why Should Ex­pats Suf­fer For Suf­frage? Jan. 11).

She states that“my right to vote en­ables me to de­cide the state of the home I plan on re­turn­ing to.” But I don’t be­lieve that it is rea­son­able for those of us who live in this coun­try, un­der the au­thor­ity of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, to have its op­er­a­tions in­flu­enced by a large pop­u­la­tion that does not live here and is not greatly af­fected by gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions.

Vot­ing rights jus­ti­fi­ably should have two lim­i­ta­tions: cit­i­zen­ship and res­i­dency. Only cit­i­zens should be per­mit­ted to vote be­cause cit­i­zens are pre­sumed to be loyal to this coun­try; they have made a home here and ex­pect to stay. Only res­i­dents should be per­mit­ted to vote be­cause only res­i­dents are sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected by their gov­ern­ment.

Jeff Breukel­man Rich­mond Hill, Ont.

The right to vote must and does ex­ist for ev­ery Cana­dian, al­ways and any­where. Yet the ex­er­cise of that right can and should be rea­son­ably lim­ited, such as Cana­di­ans below an age of ma­tu­rity, and, as in the case of ex­pats, Cana­di­ans who are not ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and en­gag­ing with any com­mu­nity of elec­tors in Canada be­cause their or­di­nary place of res­i­dence is else­where.

We cast our bal­lots in­di­vid­u­ally and se­cretly, but we are mak­ing a col­lec­tive com­mu­nity de­ci­sion about our rep­re­sen­ta­tive voice in gov­ern­ment.

Lim­it­ing vot­ing rights is rea­son­able, and it is ar­guably more rea­son­able to limit ex­pats in the ex­er­cise of that right than it is to limit, say, 14 year olds who live and ex­pe­ri­ence the com­mu­nity on a daily ba­sis and can there­fore make an in­formed con­tri­bu­tion to the col­lec­tive best in­ter­est in choos­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion for their com­mu­nity.

Gre­gory Lang

Toronto

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that ex­pats do have full vot­ing rights, it is time to do what Italy has done (Supreme Court Rules Vot­ing Re­stric­tions On Ex­pa­tri­ate Cit­i­zens Are Un­con­sti­tu­tional, Jan. 11).

We should give them par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tion to ex­press their unique needs and per­spec­tives by cre­at­ing four House of Com­mons seats: Europe, Amer­i­cas, Asia and South Asia (in­clud­ing Aus­tralia and New Zealand), and one Se­nate seat. Not only is it fair but we need to hear those opin­ions.

Eric Men­del­sohn

Toronto

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