Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 06.10.04
Quebec City


Where you live is where you vote

When the Canadian government decided to institute a permanent voters list everyone was all smiles.

After all, with the wonders of modern computer technology, it would require just a little tweaking each election instead of a complete list from scratch.

Well, I just got tweaked.

For fourteen and a half years I've lived in Quebec City.

I work here, pay property tax here, my driver's license is registered here. I get my mail here.

And most importantly, I vote here. Or at least I did.

Admittedly, my situation is a little strange.

Although Quebec City is, as I was told, my 'primary' residence, the accountant who does both my and the love of my life's income tax, listed me as living in Sherbrooke - her 'primary' residence.

And in the blink of an eye my voter registration was changed to Sherbrooke.

Not to worry I said to myself. I'll just phone Elections Canada on the conveniently supplied toll free number.

I explained to the woman on the other end my predicament. She replied.

"So you've moved?"

"No," I said. &qukot;That's the problem."

"Oh, your wife has moved?"

"No. Neither of us has moved. We just live in different cities and want to vote where we live."

This apparently took her aback and there was a long pause while she considered whether our living arrangements violated any section of the Canada Elections Act.

In an effort to simplify things I went on.

"I just want to be registered to vote in Quebec City."

"Oh my," she countered. "I can't do that. You'll have to contact our office there."

"Do you have the phone number," I asked pleasantly.

"No. But you could consult our web site."

The web site furnished me with a phone number and an address.

So I decided to beard the lion in his den. Or in this case the lioness.

When I explained my case she tapped several times on the computer.

"According to our records you live in Sherbrooke. Why do you want to vote here?"

I explained again about the accountant and his desire to have my love and I under one roof, if only for tax purposes.

"I see. Well, I'll have to see some identification listing you as a resident of Quebec. And I'm sorry, your wife will have to come in person to have her card changed."

For a moment I was tempted to explain. But common sense took over and I replied, "She'll be in later in the week."

The change having been duly made, I asked whether I could expect the government to arbitrarily change my voting pattern the next time around.

"Only if you move again," she replied.