Home Time Portals Get Briefed On... Browse by Subject Teachers' Guides

Browse by Subject

Human Rights

Women's Rights

Minority Rights

Aboriginal Rights

Persons with Disabilities

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Religion

Voting Rights

Criminal Law

International

Charter

Department's History

Ministers



Human Rights in Canada: An Historical Perspective

Voting Rights

1900

Under the Dominion Elections Act S.C. 1900 c. 12, the only people who can vote in a federal election are ones who have the legal right to vote in a provincial election. Minorities -including women - who are excluded from voting in provincial elections are therefore automatically excluded from voting in federal elections.

1902

Cunningham and A.G. for B.C. v. Tomey Homma and A.G. for Canada [1903] A.C. 151 unsuccessfully challenges the lack of suffrage for Chinese, Japanese, and Indian people in B.C.

1907

The right to vote in provincial elections is denied to Hindus - S.B.C. 1907, c. 6.

1908

Municipal Elections Act S.B.C. 1908 c. 14 s. 13(1) - No Chinese, Japanese, or other "Asiatic" or Indian person is entitled to vote in any municipal election in B.C.

1909

Saskatchewan denies the right to vote in provincial elections to Chinese people - R.S.S. 1909, c.3 s.11

1916

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Manitoba.

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Saskatchewan.

Women win the right to vote in provincial elections in Alberta.

1917

An Act to amend the Provincial Election Act, S.B.C. 1917, c.23 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C.

The War-Time Elections Act, S.C. 1917, c.39 amends the Elections Act but keeps the clause which denies people the right to vote in a federal election if they are not allowed to vote in their own provincial elections. Minorities who are excluded from voting in provincial elections are therefore automatically excluded from voting in federal elections.

The Ontario Franchise Act, S.O. 1917 c. 5 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in Ontario.

1918

The Nova Scotia Franchise Act, S.N. 1918, c.2 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in Nova Scotia.

An Act to Confer Electoral Franchise Upon Women, S.C. 1918, c. 20 grants women the right to vote in federal elections.

1919

An Act to extend the electoral franchise to women and to Amend the New Brunswick Electors Act, S.N.B. 1919, c. 63 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in New Brunswick.

1920

The federal government makes the franchise universal, except for minorities and Aboriginals persons.

1922

The Election Act, S.P.E.I. 1922, c.5 grants women the right to vote in provincial elections in P.E.I.

1938

The Dominion Elections Act S.C. 1938, c. 46 - s. 14(2)(i) retains race as a grounds for exclusion from the federal franchise.

1939

Under the Provincial Elections Act, S.B.C. 1939, c.16 s. 5, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu or Indian persons are denied the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C. 1940

An Act Granting to Women the Right to Vote to be Eligible as Candidates, S.Q. 1940, c.7 gives women the right to vote in Québec elections.

The Communist Party of Canada is outlawed by Order in Council under the authority of the War Measures Act.

1947

The Provincial Elections Act Amendment Act S.B.C. 1947 c. 28 gives franchise to all persons except Japanese and Indian persons but removes the franchise from Doukhobors, Hutterites, and Mennonites unless they had served in the armed forces.

1948

S. 14(2)(I) of The Dominion Elections Act S.C. 1948 c. 46, which made race a ground for exclusion from the federal franchise, is repealed.

1949

Japanese persons win the right to vote in provincial elections in B.C.

1953

Doukhobours are given the right to vote in B.C. elections.

1955

Doukhobours are given the right to vote in federal elections (S.C. 1955, c.44, s.4).

1960

The Canadian Bill of Rights receives Royal Assent.

Aboriginal persons are granted the right to vote in federal elections.

1982

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enacted as part of the Constitution Act, 1982.

1991

In Reference Re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Saskatchewan) [1991] 2 S.C.R. 158, the Supreme Court of Canada decides that s. 3 of Charter does not guarantee equality of voting power, but just the right to effective representation.

1993

The Supreme Court decides that prisoners behind bars cannot universally be denied the right to vote in Sauvé v. Canada (Attorney General) 89 D.L.R. (4th) 644.