As many as 1.4 million more Canadians are now eligible to vote, some of whom could end up casting ballots in the four byelections Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced for June 30.
Two Canadians living in the U.S. had challenged the rules that disenfranchised expatriates abroad for five years or more. They argued the provisions were arbitrary and unreasonable, and therefore violated their constitutional right as citizens to vote.
In his ruling, Justice Michael Penny noted that mass murderers have the right to vote, but the long-term expats, “who care deeply about Canada,” do not have the right.
Penny rejected government arguments that allowing non-residents to vote was somehow unfair to resident Canadians.
According to UN Statistics, some 215 million people lived outside their home country in 2011.
As of now, Elections Canada said, Canadian citizens aged 18 or older who reside abroad may apply to be added to the international register of electors and vote by mail-in special ballot.
They do have to have lived in Canada at some point.
The rule disenfranchising Canadians abroad for more than five years was enacted in 1993 amid debate about the strength of their ties to Canada and their knowledge of domestic politics.
Expats pay about $6 billion in income taxes to the Canadian treasury, despite using fewer resources than their in-country counterparts, according to estimates.