TORONTO – One of Canada’s most famous expats is railing against the Harper government over a federal law that takes the right to vote away from citizens living abroad for more than five years.
Donald Sutherland attacks the policy in an opinion piece published Tuesday in the Globe and Mail titled, “I’m Canadian – and I have a right to vote.”
It follows an Ontario Court of Appeal decision earlier this month that upheld federal voting restrictions.
Sutherland — who was born in Saint John, N.B., and still has a home in Canada — says he’s proud of his Canadian citizenship.
The veteran actor says he’s refused to obtain U.S. citizenship even though he spends much of his time living and working south of the border.
The rule was enacted in 1993 amid debate about the strength of non-resident ties to Canada and their knowledge of domestic politics.
“We live in Canada all the time we can. Our family house is here. Professionally, I still have to think twice when I say ‘out’ or ‘house.’ I have to restrain myself from saying ‘eh?’,” Sutherland says in the article, which had generated hundreds of comments online by mid-afternoon Tuesday.
“Ask any journalist that’s ever interviewed me what nationality I proudly proclaim to have. Ask them. They’ll tell you. I am a Canadian. But I’m an expatriate and the Harper government won’t let expatriates participate in Canadian elections.”