Only the Affluent Need Apply
Kierzkowski was elected
to the Province of Canadas 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