Press Release: BCCLA to make oral arguments at Supreme Court of Canada in non-resident voter case

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For Immediate Release

OTTAWA – Today, March 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear oral arguments in Frank et al. v. Attorney General (Canada). This case concerns the right of Canadian citizens to vote in federal elections while residing outside the country. The BCCLA is in intervener in the case and will make oral submissions urging the Court to apply a stringent evidentiary standard when considering limits on individuals’ fundamental rights.

Subject to limited exemptions such as military service or work for certain organizations abroad, Canadian citizens who have lived outside Canada for five consecutive years or more are not permitted to vote in federal elections unless and until they re-establish residence in Canada. Two Canadian citizens residing in the United States for over five years brought a challenge to the law on the basis that the provisions of the Canada Elections Act violate their right to vote. Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons.”

The BCCLA will urge the Court to adopt a strict standard of evidence when the government is attempting to justify limits on democratic rights. Caily DiPuma, Acting Litigation Director for the BCCLA, explains: “The government must provide a strong justification for stripping the voting rights of non-resident Canadians. In this case, the government has failed to identify a specific, concrete harm that it seeks to remedy, or to provide any evidence that such a harm exists.”

The BCCLA is represented Brendan van Niejenhuis and Stephen Aylward of Stockwood LLP.

The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here.

What: Supreme Court of Canada will hear oral arguments in Frank v. Attorney General (Canada)

When: Oral arguments before the Court being on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 6:30 am PT / 9:30 am ET.

Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa)

Who: Caily DiPuma, BCCLA Acting Litigation Director, is available in Vancouver for comment at 604-349-1423 or [email protected]