VANCOUVER, BC – May 5, 2014 – Groundbreaking research by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) has contributed to a landmark decision by the Ontario Superior Court today to restore voting rights to Canadian citizens living abroad for longer than five years. Justice Michael Penny has found unconstitutional a section of the Canada Elections Act that bars expatriates who have lived abroad for more than five years from voting.
“We are delighted that our original research on Canadians Abroad, which documented for the first time the size, scope, and perspectives of overseas citizens, has played such a key role in the Ontario Superior Court decision,” said Yuen Pau Woo, President & CEO, APF Canada. “With more than eight percent of the population living abroad, overseas Canadians should be seen as an asset for the country, rather than as a liability. Restoring their voting rights will help foster attachment to Canada, for the good of all Canadians. We hope this decision will spark fresh discussion on the need for Ottawa to develop a strategy for tapping into the talent pool of our overseas citizens.”
APF Canada has conducted research on Canadians Abroad for over a decade, under the leadership of Project Director Dr. Don Devoretz, who was an expert witness in the legal hearings that led to the Ontario Superior Court decision. A landmark study in 2008 produced the first-ever estimate of Canadians living abroad, at 2.8 million. Given its size in relation to resident Canadians, this overseas population was dubbed “Canada’s ‘missing province”.
A subsequent study by Senior Analyst Kenny Zhang found that the Citizenship Act prevented approximately 1.4 million Canadian citizens around the world from voting. That study also found that Canadians living abroad actively participate in political, economic, and social aspects of Canadian life, but that their ineligibility to vote inhibits their ability to be more deeply engaged.
The capstone report of the Canadians Abroad project, entitled Canadians Abroad: Canada’s Global Asset, was released in June 2011.
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About APF Canada
The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is an independent resource for Canadians on contemporary Asia and Canada-Asia relations. As a national not-for-profit organization established by an Act of Parliament in 1984, the Foundation brings people and knowledge together to provide the most current and comprehensive research, analysis and information on Asia and on Canada’s transpacific relations. Visit APF Canada at www.asiapacific.ca.
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