(This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
An asylum seeker who has only been in Canada for 18 months was sent a voter registration card from Elections Canada, the Sun has learned.
The letter, dated Sept. 12, 2018 and addressed to Jacqueline, a woman who arrived in Canada in the spring of 2017, informs her that she is “not currently registered to vote in federal elections.”
The letter urges her to register by Oct. 23, 2018, stating that, “registering in advance will ensure you’re on the voters list and will save you time at the polls.”
It is not clear how Jacqueline ended up on an Elections Canada list. The Sun has chosen not to identify Jacqueline’s last name as her refugee case is pending and public identification can put the outcome of such cases at risk. Her and her husband are asylum seekers from Mexico, and have not yet received permanent immigration status in Canada.
Jacqueline’s husband said he was threatened and assaulted by members of a drug cartel, including a police officer. The Sun has chosen not to name him due to his pending refugee status and claims of threats to his life.
The couple fled to Canada and ended up in Western Canada, where the husband applied for a temporary work permit and has found a job working in the oil industry.
The couple’s refugee application is still pending; their case has yet to be presented to an Immigration and Refugee Board judge. If their application is accepted, they will become permanent residents and will have to wait at least three years before they can apply for Canadian citizenship, making them eligible to vote.
And yet, somehow, the woman ended up on a federal Elections Canada registration list.
“I don’t know where they got her information to begin with, but they sent her a registration card,” said Jacqueline’s husband, who was interviewed because his wife still struggles with English.
“She’s taking ESL classes, we haven’t even been in the country a year and a half, and the Liberals are sending a vote registration card,” he said.
According to the husband, this isn’t an isolated incident. “They’re doing this with a lot of immigrants, because I have a few friends that are on a work permit and they also received a vote registration card.”
That’s part of the reason he came forward to blow the whistle on possible voter fraud. Having escaped Mexico, a deeply corrupt country that struggles with the rule of law, he doesn’t want to see Canada go in that direction.
“I want to give something back to Canada. Canada has done so much for us, and we don’t want to see Canada go in that direction. That’s not fair to Canadians,” he said.
A spokesperson for Elections Canada told the Sun that they compile voter registration lists from a number of sources, including the Canada Revenue Agency, driver’s license agencies, provincial voter lists, and the federal immigration department.
Jacqueline’s husband confirmed that she does not have a job in Canada, nor does she have a driver’s license. She has never registered to vote in Canada.
Elections Canada noted that sometimes, mistakes are made.
“From time to time, a non-citizen may inadvertently be included in the register and may therefore receive a voter information card in error. In the rare case that a non-citizen gets a voter information card, we ask that they call their local Elections Canada office and ask to be removed from the National Register of Electors,” said Natasha Gauthier of Elections Canada.
“It is not illegal for a non-citizen to be on the register in error.”
“It is an offence under the Canada Elections Act for a non-citizen to vote, or to apply to register to vote, knowing they are not qualified to do so,” said Gauthier.
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