Campaign literature and three photos

Campaign literature and three photos

Above: (1) The 1858 election of Alexandre-Édouard Kierzkowski was declared void on the basis that the value of his property was insufficient to qualify him for office.
(2) A group of merchants in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, illustrate the electorate in the mid-1800s: male, white and affluent.

1858 – Only the Affluent Need Apply
Alexandre-Édouard Kierzkowski was elected to the Province of Canada’s legislative council in 1858, but the election was declared void after opponents claimed that the value of his property was insufficient to qualify him for office. At the time, the right to vote and to be a candidate was reserved for well-to-do citizens. Their eligibility was determined by the value of the property they owned, or the rent they paid, or the income they earned. In addition, electoral rights were denied to women and to members of various religious and ethnic communities.

The march toward the universal right to vote and to be a candidate began with the adoption of the 1920 Dominion Elections Act, but it took until the 1960s to remove the last traces of discrimination. In 1982, electoral rights were entrenched in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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