Donald Sutherland speaks out against expat voting restrictions

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Canadian actor Donald Sutherland spoke out against the restrictions imposed on Canadians living abroad for more than five years.

“If you don’t live here all the time you can’t vote. Americans who live abroad can vote,” Sutherland wrote in an op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail.

“They ask me at the border why I don’t take American citizenship. I could still be Canadian, they say. You could have dual citizenship. But I say no, I’m not dual anything. I’m Canadian. There’s a maple leaf in my underwear somewhere. There used to be a beaver there, too, but I’m 80 now and beavers are known to take off when you’re in your 80s.”

A Supreme Court decision last week overturned ruling that had previously allowed expats living outside Canada for more than five years to vote. The judge ruled that allowing expats to vote “would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws.”

The ruling was made on the basis that allowing expats to vote would ultimately allow people not living in Canada to decide on laws that would affect the daily lives of Canadians living here.

“I’m an expatriate and the Harper government won’t let expatriates participate in Canadian elections,” Sutherland wrote. “Is it because they’re afraid we’ll vote to return to a government that will once again represent the values that the rest of the world looked up to us for?”

Sutherland is known for his roles in MASH, Pride and Prejudice and most recently the Hunger Games series. He has not lived in Canada since before moving to the United States in the 1960s. He and his wife own a home in Georgeville, Quebec.

The federal election is set to be held on Oct. 19, 2015.

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Behdad Mahichi is currently an Editorial Assistant at Vancity Buzz and a journalism student at Ryerson University. He writes about anything from entertainment and politics to his misfortunately extreme caffeine addiction.
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