PQ vow not to let Ontario students decide election outcome
MONTREAL – The Parti Quebecois have denounced reports that hundreds of English-speaking students have been trying to register to vote illegally.
Former student protest leader turned Laval MNA for the PQ, Léo Bureau-Blouin, was one of three candidates at a press conference on Sunday responding to “the abnormally high number of applications to register on the electoral rolls.”
Flanked by Bernard St-Arnaud and Nicole Leger, Bureau-Blouin denounced what he described as “dubious tactics” and “disquieting incidents” involving university students from English-speaking institutions such as Concordia and McGill.
— Léo Bureau-Blouin (@leobblouin) March 23, 2014
He repeatedly tweeted a link to an article published by French media outlet TVA Nouvelles, which claimed that university students from Ontario were trying to vote en masse in the next Quebec election in order to avoid a referendum on sovereignty.
St-Arnaud, the PQ candidate for Chambly and the province’s Minister of Justice, told those assembled that he was concerned that the election would be decided by those living outside Quebec.
“Will the Quebec election be stolen by people from Ontario and the rest of Canada?” he asked.
The PQ are demanding that Quebec’s chief electoral officer monitor the alleged wave of out-of-province student voters – frequently anglophones and members of immigrant communities – trying to register for the vote.
On Saturday, Quebec’s chief electoral office tried to clarify the rules for voter eligibility after a number of English-speaking university students from elsewhere in Canada complained they were unable to register for the April 7 provincial election.
Denis Dion, a spokesperson for the electoral office, noted that there are certain cases that are more difficult to assess and the key point would be to determine whether a person is committed to living in Quebec.
“It seems that some people trying to register don’t always understand the rules,” he said.
The comments come after a number of university students came forward saying they had been denied the right to vote.
READ MORE: Are you registered to vote in Quebec?
In a statement on its website, the electoral office clarified who has the right to vote in the province:
“… to be a qualified elector, a person must have attained 18 years of age, be a Canadian citizen and have been domiciled in Quebec for six months,” he confirmed.
“However, the notion of domicile can be complex, and questions may be raised as to its interpretation… examples include the fact of paying income tax in Quebec or obtaining a Quebec driver’s licence.”
Youri Cormier, the executive director for Apathy Is Boring, a non-partisan organization that works to educate Canadian youth about democracy, said that out-of-province students in Quebec are eligible to vote.
— Youri Cormier (@YouriCormier) March 22, 2014
This is not the first Quebec election that concerns have been raised about students being denied the right to vote.
In 2012, the issue cropped up. The McGill Daily reported then that even students who had filed their taxes in Quebec were still being denied the right to register to vote.
© 2014 Shaw Media