Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The problem of Ignatieff

Thank you for all your comments. Thank you also for correcting me - the candidate need not live in the riding he is running in. But he still must be an eligible elector. And his status as an eligible elector, in my opinion, is in doubt.

One commenter is certainly right - the public does have a right to Ignatieff's permanent address. The problem with Ignatieff is not that he is possesses the possibility of being an elector because he certainly does. The problem of Ignatieff is that he may have voided this possibility by indicating his return to Harvard if his candidacy does not work out. This intention, interestingly, does matter. As I reiterated before, intention is used to determine where students are eligible to vote. Where they intend to return after their studies is their eligible district. What is Ignatieff's?

It is still important to keep in mind that the final call does come down to the wisdom of the Returning Officer though. I am in no way saying that Ignatieff should or shouldn't have the right to vote or be a candidate. I am merely questioning his candidacy based on current election law. I don't know of any cases where a Canadian has been denied their right to vote. Can anyone think of such a case? I dont suspect there are many. It's that Charter thing.


Anonymous said...

Canadians are deny the right to vote for several reasons.

1) inmates serving sentences of two years or more.

2) absent from Canada for more than 5 years

3) People in certain government jobs - Election officers, judges etc.

4) Mentally diabled people

See link for complete set of rules: http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/bp437-e.htm

Patrick said...

That link is to a document that doesn't reflect current election law. See Elections Canada's website
(www.electionscanada.ca) for more current information.

For example, all inmates can now vote, including those serving sentences of two years or more.

Anonymous said...


The Canada Elections Act's candidacy qualifications can be summarized as follows:

Section 65 of the Act sets out the basic limitations on candidacy. It provides (by necessary implication) that any person "qualified as an elector" other than as expressly set out in Section 65 is entitled to be a candidate.

Note that Section 3 of the Act says that "every person who is a Canadian citizen and is 18 years of age or older on polling day is qualified as an elector." (Same language, interestingly enough). In other words, there is no residency requirement. You only need to be a citizen, and over the age of 18.

Even accepting your characterization of Ignatieff's residency (which, as a matter of law, appears incorrect) the Act only deals with ordinary residency in determining where an elector may vote under Section 6. This section does not affect one's qualification as an elector, one's qualification to run as a candidate, or even one's right to vote. It merely impacts on the locus of the right.

Michael Ignatieff is a Canadian citizen who is over 18. The only remaining question, then, is whether this candidate falls within the enumerated restrictions of Section 65 of the Act. A quick review of those restrictions makes it clear that none of them apply: they deal mostly with election officers, inmates, sitting legislators, several categories of justice system public servants and certain truant candidates from previous elections. Ignatieff is none of these things, and is accordingly qualified as a candidate.

A more appropriate question for you to ask is why we would want to exclude from election one of our most prominent (and most vocally Canadian) citizens. Doing interesting things abroad shouldn't exclude Canadians from later doing interesting things at home, particular when (as Ignatieff has) they maintain strong ties and make frequent visits to Canada. Whatever your view of Ignatieff's politics, it would be nice, for a change, to have a highly intelligent progressive politician who thinks about difficult questions and isn't afraid to take unpopular positions.

Anonyman said...

I don't see a reason why he shouldn't be allowed to run, but it does raise an interesting question about representation.

If he ran in my riding, he would be decried as a parachute candidate and quickly shown the door (3 of the last 4 Liberal candidates where 'parachutes' in my riding... all of them were run out of town... straight to patronage appointments including a Federal Judge, a Liberal Communications director and of course a Senator)

Gary McHale said...

The link provided above was created May 2004 is in fact the current link on Election Canada's web site and is more of a non-legal worded writeup but it is current - see line right after Bill c-2 Election Act - http://www.elections.ca/intro.asp?section=loi&document=index&lang=e&textonly=false

For detailed infor on Voting Rights read: http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/905-e.htm

However, I personnally spoke with Election Canada yesterday and they clearly stated their was a residently test for voting rights. Although this test is in court right now, it still remains in place that a person absent from Canada for more than 5 years cannot vote - end of story. The 4 limits to voting right above are currently in force.

For those who wonder why is it important - think about someone living in another country, but is Canadain, running and winning a seat but remained in another country. Many current Senators are out of Canada for longer than 1 year and still collect full pay.

Gary McHale said...

One last bit of infor - direct from Election Canada website under the Voter eligibility criteria - see link: http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=ele&document=eligible&dir=39ge/ec78610&lang=e&textonly=false

Note the 5 year rule.

Also note that the only possible exception that could allow for such a case include a clause stating, "you intend to resume residence in Canada."

As pointed out Mr. Ignatieff intend to return to the USA if he loses. Furthermore, Mr. Ignatieff continues to be employeed in the USA and travels to the USA during the election to carry out his job. Has Mr. Ignatieff moved his belonging to Canada or are they still in the USA?

Another interesting point is that if Mr. Ignatieff has relocated back to Canada then as of Dec. 31 he will have to file a Canadian Tax Return for the whole year.

Jonathan said...

To the anonymous person who talked about section 65. Yes, there are some good points there. But you have not looked at the beginning of the Canada Elections Act, which states that "every person who is qualified as an elector is entitled to have his or her name included in the list of electors for the polling division in which he or she is ordinarily resident and to vote at the polling station for that polling division."

So, being ordinarily resident is a major requirement to vote.

Anonymous said...

Ignatieff is a disgrace. He writes of Americans in the first person, endorsed Bush's illegal and destabilizing war in Iraq, supports Abu Ghraib-style coercive interrogation techniques and would belong better on the right wing of Stephen Harper's party than in any truly "liberal" political formation. "Human rights expert," my ass. I hope voters give him the resounding rejection this pompous self-serving pseudo-intellectual deserves. If the voters of Etobicoke Lakeshore want a pro-American, rightwing, Bush-apologist candidate to represent them, let them vote for the Conservatives. This is just about the only riding in Canada where I would prefer to see a Tory win rather than this disgraceful pseudo-Liberal.