The Native experience with voting rights in Canada presents a complex and frequently changing picture. In 1885, the right to vote in federal elections was extended to Natives in Eastern Canada who met the requirements of being male and owning at least $50 of real property, a qualification that could be met by reserve lands held individually by a location ticket. This practice did not apply to the Natives in Western Canada, who, officials believed, were not developed enough for the responsibility. The 1885 legislation was repealed in 1898, depriving the Natives of Eastern Canada of the franchise once more. The right to vote in a federal election was restored to these people in 1920, but it was restricted to those Natives who lived off-reserve and to men who had served in the Canadian army, navy, or air force in the First World War. In 1944, the federal franchise was extended to all Natives who had served or were serving in the Second World War and also to their spouses. A 1950 amendment to the Indian Act gave the vote to on-reserve Natives but required them to relinquish their tax-exempt status on personal property. Only in 1960, under the government of John Diefenbaker, was the federal franchise extended unconditionally to all Natives. Provincial voting rights came even more slowly.

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Chinook Multimedia


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