When Did You Obtain The Right To Vote?

VoteIf you are a woman, Japanese, Chinese, South Asian, Doukhobor, Aboriginal, younger than 21 or don’t own property, there was a time when you could not participate in the democratic process. Unfortunately, this list is not exhaustive.

Once upon a time unless you were a 21 year old man who owned property you could not vote. If you were a Catholic you would have been denied this right.

In 1917 following the passing of the Wartime Elections Act and Military Voters Act female relatives of men serving in Canadian and British forces could vote. Servicemen including those under the age of 21 and status Indians were also permitted to vote. However, individuals enfranchised after 1902 who “spoke the enemy language” or were born in an enemy country were barred from voting.

Between 1902 – 1908 Japanese, Chinese and Indians continued their battle to participate in the democratic process at the municipal level in hopes of eventually obtaining the right to vote in federal elections.

In 1916 women won the right to vote in provincial elections in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

According to the Dominion Elections Act of 1938, citizens prohibited from voting in provincial elections were also prohibited from voting in federal elections. Aboriginals, Japanese, Chinese, and Indians (who were collectively referred to as Hindu’s) could not vote. However, men serving in the war could vote as a reward. Hence voting was a privilege not a right.

Quebec did not grant women the right to vote and to run for office closer to 1940.  Still, it is important to note that not all women could vote in provincial and federal elections until the late 1940’s including women of Chinese, Japanese and South Asian (then referred to as Hindu) dissent. Furthermore, Aboriginal women covered under the Indian Act could not vote in federal elections until 1960. Therefore it was only about 55 years ago that ALL Canadian women with citizenships obtained the right to vote.

In 1949 individuals of Japanese dissent won the right to vote followed by Doukhobor’s in 1955. Finally, in 1960 Aboriginals were granted the right to vote in federal elections.

In 1960, the Canadian Bill of Rights which entails the fundamental rights and freedoms including the right to be equal before the law received dissent. Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau brought the Charter to life in 1982.

Rick Sauve begun advocating for the right of inmates to vote in federal elections in 1992 and won in 2004.

Although this list is not exhaustive, it is meant to highlight the struggle faced by many groups to obtain the right to vote. Many individuals have fought and struggled to gain the right to have a voice in government matters that impact our lives. Canadians are fortunate to reside in a country that allows them to vote in favor or against matters impacting them. If you are planning to vote, share your initiative with your friends. Statistics show that individuals are more likely to vote if those around them are doing so as well.

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Points of Discussion:

1. Were you surprised by any of the information mentioned above?

2. Were any of the points compelling enough to get you to vote?

3. Who are you voting for?

4. What matters most to you in this upcoming election?

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Want to read more about Canadian voting rights? Check out the link below: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/womens-suffrage/




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