Monday, August 31, 2015

Vote early vote often

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I was born in Manitoba. And fun fact, in 1916 Manitoba became the first province in Canada to grant women the right to vote. And that victory is largely attributed to Nellie Mcclung and her work for women's suffrage with the Manitoba Political Equity league. Further fun fact, I use to live across the street from the Walker Theatre where she held her mock Women's Parliament. Every morning a giant Nellie Mcclung reminded me she kicked ass so I could vote. 99 years ago her and so many other women and men made sure I would be allowed to cast my ballot this October.

I was 18 the first time I voted. In a provincial election I think. My parents were so proud. My parents are both children of German immigrants who came to Canada post WW2. In my paternal grandfathers case voting was sacred. He was born in Russian in the midst of the revolution. Voting for who you thought should lead your country just didn't happen when he grew up. So having he ability to vote when he came to Canada was something that should be respected and cherished.

We registered to vote in the upcoming Canadian election. It wasn't as straight forward as Elections Canada would lead you to believe. We filled out all our paperwork. We made phone calls to make sure we were doing everything correctly and we even clarified some things that weren't that clear to us on the form. We emailed copies of our official ID and were told we were good to go. We jumped through a lot of hoops but we were in fact registered to vote. YAY!

With all that being taken care of, after this federal election we're no longer allowed to vote.

Canada had a rule, if you lived outside the country for more than 5 years you could no longer vote. Then in May 2014, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that that law was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore we could still vote even if we were gone for more than 5 years.

Tremendous.

Just over a year later though (July of this year) they decided to yell "sike!" and the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the decision. Which means neither John nor I nor Donald Sutherland can vote if we've been outside the country for 5 years.

"But what Tatiana, you can still vote this year! You've been away for only 4 years!"

That's right. John and I can in fact vote this year. Which is fantastic but after this we can't.

"But Tatiana...you work for an International Org...a UN agency....that means you're exempt from the 5 year rule."

You would think so. The rule states;

"They are employed outside Canada by an international organization of which Canada is a member and to which Canada contributes – or live with someone who is;" 

Where I work seems to check all those boxes.

Second oldest international org in the world - check
Canada is a member - check (and has been for over 130 years)
Canada contributes - check

But we're not on the list. After getting an email stating we could vote but the org I worked for didn't qualify I called Elections Canada. I was told we were not on the list.

Yes, there is a mythical list. A list I was told by someone from Elections Canada that is compiled by the Federal Government. A list that has all the places on it that qualify. A list that he didn't know how it came in to existence but he had it and no I couldn't have it and the UN org I worked for wasn't on it. So after this election no voting for us, unless we came back to Canada for a little while.

Yes, the person on the other end of the phone at Elections Canada suggested I just move home for a while so I can regain my right to vote. That was his solution.

Yeah...just give up your job, your life, your friends, your home away from home. Just come home and you can vote again.

Thanks Elections Canada if only I had thought of that first.

So what am I going to do? Just accept the whole "you're not on the list", cast my ballot and hope that the supreme court overturns the Ontario court of Appeals decision?

No.

I will do something about this.

As Nellie Mcclung once said, "Never underestimate the power of a woman."




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2 comments:

  1. Good! And I'll stand behind you. Let me know what you need from me too, as I stand up for all Canadians. All people, really.

    Thanks for the inspiration. <3

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  2. Great post. Incredible that we are still denying groups of Canadians the right to vote. Keep fighting there and we'll do the same at home.

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