Coming up this week is a Supreme Court of Canada hearing that I’m going to play the role of bad guy with, which is the challenge around expat voting rights in Canadian elections. And by playing the villain, I’m firmly in the camp that I think it’s perfectly acceptable that their right to vote in a Canadian election lapses after about five years, because our electoral system is based on local riding elections. If you don’t live in a riding, and haven’t for years, then your vote soon becomes meaningless because you are essentially voting for a local representative whom you’re not familiar with, with local issues you’re not impacted by, and generally you’re voting for a leader, which isn’t how our system works.
And I know, these expats challenging the law feel like their citizenship is being devalued, but their connection to the riding they’re supposed to be voting in grows ever more tenuous, even if their connection to Canada as a whole doesn’t – but it’s about mechanics. There are complaints that the five-year cut-off is arbitrary, and to an extent it is, but that said, the constitutional rule is that an election must be held within five years of the preceding one (despite the fact that our later fixed-election-date laws tend to operate on four-year cycles – yet another Americanism that we need to disavow because it hasn’t done anything constructive for our system and rather has created a whole new set of ways in which incumbent governments can try to manipulate the field). It makes it reasonable to make it five years, then, in terms of when voting rights lapse when one is absent from a riding.
The way I think about it is that these particular limits make our voting rights more protected, rather than devaluing citizenship. If you’re voting for a riding that you have no connection to, how is that upholding the integrity of the electoral process in that riding? It means that for those who are voting within that riding, it maintains that there is that special connection between the voters in the riding and those who are elected to represent them. You’re unlikely to be paying taxes if you’ve been away that long, so it’s not like a taxation-without-representation issue either, and most likely, those expats are voting in their new host countries by this point as well. Votes should mean something, and in Canada, that means a connection to a specific riding, which we shouldn’t take for granted.
- The Mali peacekeeping mission, to be announced today, will have more of a female focus. The Conservatives are already concern trolling over it.
- There are hints that the Americans may be willing to compromise on more NAFTA chapters now that the time crunch is upon them.
- That notorious Russian troll farm that interfered in the US election has sent out a series of tweets on Canadian politics.
- Meanwhile, the Canadian whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica, implicated in Facebook election interference, once worked for Stéphane Dion’s office.
- The Canadian government is looking to balance free speech with the need to protect our electoral system from foreign chatbots and propaganda campaigns.
- There is yet more consternation about the attestation that groups are required to sign before getting summer job grant funding.
- Here is a bit more about that gun control bill expected to be tabled on Tuesday.
- Elections Canada is launching new Indigenous outreach initiatives in advance of the 2019 federal election.
- It appears that a manager within Public Procurement was fired because of a whistleblower – possibly the first instance of the system working.
- Alberta is facing a looming crisis as they can’t get new Crown prosecutors thanks to a wage freeze and bigger caseloads, which will grind the system to a halt.
- Sandy Garossino offers more context about the Modi government and why its friendly media voices cast aspersions on Trudeau’s visit.
Odds and ends:
Former NDP MP Bev Dejarlais passed away this weekend. She notably broke ranks with the party to vote against same-sex marriage and was stripped of duties for it.
Help Routine Proceedings expand. Support my Patreon.