The Right to Vote and Why you should Vote

On October 22, please exercise your rights to vote on the municipal election, you can also click here to vote online.

The Right to vote and why you should vote - Fred K. Wong, Feb, 2018

Millions around the world are willing to die for the right to vote, yet it is a right that some of us has taken for granted far more than we should. Voter turnout at previous municipal elections were disappointing at 37.09% for City of Markham in 2014 election. We are so privileged and fortunate to have the right to vote and we are so lucky to live in a country where democracy is a way of life, why don’t we exercise that right?

It is easy to forget that millions dedicated their lives to fight for this right, they gave everything in the name of suffrage for us to live in a peaceful and welcoming Canada. In Canada today, voting in federal elections is a right enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms for citizens 18 years and older. But it wasn’t always like that.

Here is the history of voting in Canada (by Canadian Immigrant).

In Canada’s early years, only men who were property owners and more than 21 years of age could vote. Women, Asians and aboriginal people were among those who fought for the right to vote in Canadian elections for decades. Some have only had the right to vote for less than 50 years ago.

Here’s a look back at voting in history.

1900 Under the Dominion Elections Act, the only people who can vote in a federal election are ones who have the legal right to vote in a provincial election. Minorities who are excluded from voting in provincial elections, such as immigrants from Japan, China and India, are therefore automatically excluded from voting in federal elections.

1902 A lawsuit unsuccessfully challenges the lack of suffrage for Chinese, Japanese and Indian people in B.C.

1907 The right to vote in provincial elections is denied to Hindus in B.C.

1908 No Chinese, Japanese, other “Asiatic” or Indian person is entitled to vote in any municipal election in B.C.

1909 Saskatchewan denies the right to vote in provincial elections to Chinese people.

1916 Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

1917 Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C. and Ontario.

1917 The right to vote is extended to all British subjects, male or female, who were active or retired members of the Canadian Forces.

1917 The Elections Act is amended but keeps the clause that denies people the right to vote in a federal election if they are not allowed to vote in their own provincial elections. Minorities, such as Chinese, Japanese and aboriginals, who are excluded provincially are therefore automatically excluded.

1917 The Wartime Elections Act excludes all “enemy aliens” from voting, including Canadians of Ukrainian and German origin.

1918 Women who are more than 21 years of age win the right to vote in federal elections, provided they meet racial and property ownership requirements.

1920 The federal government makes the right to vote universal, except for some minorities and aboriginal persons.

1936 A delegation of Japanese Canadians asks the House of Commons to extend voting rights, but is rejected.

1938 The Dominion Elections Act retains race as a grounds for exclusion from the federal vote.

1939 Chinese, Japanese, Hindu and Indian persons are denied the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C.

1947 B.C. gives the right to vote to all persons except Japanese and Indian persons. It also takes it away from Doukhobors, Hutterites and Mennonites unless they have served in the armed forces.

1948 The Dominion Elections Act, which made race a ground for exclusion from the federal vote, is repealed. The right to vote was extended to Canadians of Asian origin.

1949 Japanese persons win the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C.

1953 Inuit and Doukhobours are given the right to vote in federal elections and B.C. elections, respectively.

1955 Doukhobours are given the right to vote in federal elections.

1960 Aboriginal persons are granted the right to vote in federal elections.

1970 A revised Canada Elections Act lowers the voting age to 18.

1982 The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms embeds into the Constitution the right of all citizens to vote.

There are so many different ways to learn about your candidates these days and follow them on social media. Simply take a few minutes to look at a candidate’s platform, you may get a better idea of what that person stands for.

People often say “I don’t like any candidate, so it’s not worthwhile.” Pick the best choice! We live in a representative democracy; these are the people that are making big decisions for us. Find the person you align with the most. There will most likely never be a candidate that you feel is your perfect match, that’s the way it is.

Voting is a right that must be exercised. Politics are politics, and there will always be things you disagree with, but at the end of the day, it is our duty as citizens to let our voices be heard and vote.