Having followed the events surrounding the upcoming provincial elections in Quebec quite closely, I was very excited to finally get my name on the electoral rolls. Well aware of the fact that Anglophones who had moved to Quebec, especially students, were having a hard time getting registered, I decided to do my homework.
I carefully read the voter manual mailed out by the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec, and a document they released, specifically addressing the question of whether one was domiciled in Quebec. I further examined Book One, Title Three, Chapter II of the Civil Code of Quebec, which establishes who is considered domicile in Quebec.
After reading through all the information available from official sources, I gathered up a folder full of evidence, which established that I had the right to vote in Quebec.
1) My certificate of birth, which establishes my Canadian citizenship as well as the fact that I am of age.
2) My Quebec driver's license, which proves my address, and establishes my principal residence.
3) Bank statements, which demonstrates my bank is in Quebec.
4) Mail received from various businesses and organizations, which demonstrates that my principal residence is indeed in Quebec.
5) Direct correspondence from both my MP and my MNA, which demonstrates that I have been an active member of the community in which I live.
6) Political Party Membership, demonstrating that I am a member of the Westmount-Ville-Marie Riding Association.
In spite of the fact that the General Election Voter's Manual, mailed out by Le Directeur General Des Elections Du Quebec, states that "To register you must provide two identity papers," I took a handful of relevant documents, just to be sure of not running into problems.
Here's what happened:
I arrived at the revision office for the Westmount-St-Louis riding at around 6:45 pm on March 24th and after waiting for just under an hour and a half, my number was called. The officer I dealt with was Madame Jose-Luciani Reviseure.
She asked me why I was there, and I presented the voter information card that had arrived in the mail without my name and told her I'd come to register to vote. She asked me what documentation I had brought. I opened my folder and started listing what I had brought when she stopped me and said I had a birth certificate from Ontario. I told her that I was indeed born in Ontario but that I'd moved to Quebec in 2009, had been living here ever since and had the documentation to prove it.
She, again asked me what documentation I had, and I again began to list it out when she told me that my documentation did not seem to be adequate. I pulled out the voter's manual that had been mailed to me by the organization for which she worked and pointed out that it said I merely needed two identity papers to register, and that I had the birth certificate and drivers license which were given as examples.
She pointed to the Can You Vote section where the conditions for voting were listed. She said that I did not meet the third condition, "domiciled in Quebec for at least the past six months" and that my documents did nothing to prove that. I insisted that I had gone online to find out the additional documentation I'd need and had come prepared with bank statements and letters from businesses and elected representatives. She rejected that such information had been put out by her organization.
I then asked her where it said that my documents were not adequate and that other documentation was required. She again, with her pen, underlined the word "domiciled" and stated she did not believe I was domiciled. I asked her what else I could bring to prove my status. She then went back to the Can You Vote section of the Voter's Manual and underlined the second condition, "Canadian Citizen" and said that I had not proved that I was a citizen.
Incredulous, I pointed to my birth certificate and asked what more I needed to prove my Canadian citizenship. She asked whether I had brought my passport with me and I told her I had not. She said that she would need to see that to be sure of my citizenship and added that since "all" my documents were from Ontario (although only one was), that she did not believe that I was domiciled in Quebec.
Although I believe that my domicile in Quebec was clearly demonstrated by the extensive documentation I provided, even if Madame Reviseure did not believe so, Section 78 of the Civil Code of Quebec states that: "A person whose domicile cannot be determined with certainty is deemed to be domiciled at the place of his residence." If my driver's license and various other documents did not prove my domicile status, it must have at least established my place of residence!
Quite frustrated, I asked if there was any way to appeal the decision to which she answered that she had already made the final decision and that it was time I left.
Having moved to Montreal in August of 2009, many an year have passed since I came to consider it my home. I have not merely studied in this city; I have been a highly active member of the community. I have volunteered for various local charities and organizations, organized innumerable community events, written op-eds in local publications -- including the oldest daily newspaper in the province -- and hold political membership from my local Montreal riding. I have committed much time and energy contributing to and advocating for Montreal and Quebec -- even writing an op-ed in the National Post calling for the ICAO to be kept in this province when there was a move to shift it to Qatar -- and have enjoyed every single moment of it.
I understand that Madame Pauline Marois is very worried by her tumbling poll numbers and would like to pin a possible loss come Election Day on the "Rest of Canada" and namely Ontario. The absurdity of her claims notwithstanding, her inhibitions do not give her or the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec the right to deny Canadian citizens their Democratic Rights under Section 3 of the Constitution, especially when the person in question meets the requirements as spelled out by Quebec's own Civil Code.
Montreal is my home. If my roots in Ontario and the fact that I am an Anglophone are sufficient reasons to deny me the right to vote in the upcoming elections, the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec seems guilty of blatant voter discrimination and repression. There should be an official review of the revision process and there should be an official enquiry into whether the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec (and/or its officials) were in any way influenced by the current government.
Quite contrary to the Officer's motto, "democracy wins, every time," democracy in Quebec is very much lost.
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