VOTES FROM AWAY
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.
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.