07/29/2015 11:33 EDT | Updated 07/29/2016 05:59 EDT

Donald Sutherland's Op-Ed Gives Boost To Montreal Native Who Launched Expat Challenge

The Montreal native who launched the initial challenge against voting restrictions on expats is thankful veteran actor Donald Sutherland has put the issue back in the spotlight.

Jamie Duong, who grew up in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood and now lives in Ithaca, New York, said Sutherland's opinion piece that ran Tuesday in the Globe and Mail was "fantastic."

​"I hope we see more of that," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"There are so many great Canadians living outside Canada and hopefully they will take interest in this as Mr. Sutherland has."

In the opinion piece, Sutherland, who has a home in the Eastern Townships, criticized the voting restrictions against long-term expats. 

"My name is Donald Sutherland. My wife's name is Francine Racette. We are Canadians. We each hold one passport. A Canadian passport. That's it," Sutherland wrote.

Last week, Ontario's Court of Appeal ruled that allowing Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years to vote in federal elections would be unfair to those who live in Canada.

Duong, along with Toronto-born Gillian Frank, launched the original constitutional challenge, arguing the five-year rule was arbitrary and unreasonable.

Both argued they had only left for educational and employment opportunities and still had strong attachments to Canada and a stake in its future.

In May last year, Ontario's Superior Court threw out the voting ban, noting that mass murderers have the right to cast ballots but long-term expats who care deeply about the country do not. Penny also said expats could well be subject to Canadian tax and other laws.

But that decision was overruled in a split-decision by the court of appeal

"I was just floored," Duong said.

"It was a real disheartening blow, given that I was all set to vote in October's election and now it looks like I won't be able to."

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