John Chaif is a federal inmate serving a life sentence in Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ontario. He aims to vote in the upcoming Canadian federal election and is attempting to help other prisoners do so as well.
In the months leading up to the election, Chaif has been trying get clarification on registration rules and the voting process itself in order to ensure that prisoners are able to exercise their rights to vote. Prisoners’ right to vote in Canada is a very recent development, won in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Sauvé v Canada in 2002.
Chaif has reason to be concerned. He tried to vote in the 2014 Ontario provincial election, but was denied. Voting day was on June 12, but he was not given his ballot until the next day, even though the ballot was physically in the Institution for days prior.
From the Margins interviews Chaif about being denied his vote in 2014 and his current attempts to both vote himself and enable other prisoners to exercise their right as well. Chaif gives a window into the world of the incarcerated voter.
The show also features an archived interview with Jordan House, a PhD student at York University, studying prisoner labour organizing.
From the Margins has been interviewing Chaif over the course of the summer of 2015 and continuing. This is one of several episodes that will feature Chaif discussing many subjects about prison life and prisoners justice.