An Ottawa man who's confined to a bed has been fighting for the right to cast his ballot in the upcoming federal election.
Rick Harrison is a quadriplegic and requires a home visit to vote.
Elections Canada says it's rare but possible once all other options have been exhausted. Harrison has voted in every single federal election and doesn't want to miss this one.
He's voted from home before but proving he need to has proven to be a problem.
If the TV's on, chances are Rick Harrison is watching the news. His wife Suzy says he's got a voracious appetite for current events.
“He is glued to that television, he follows everything,” she says, “He's the smartest guy, there isn't anything he doesn't know.”
That's why casting a ballot is a critical issue for him.
“I would like to have my say,” Rick says from his bed overlooking the back yard.
Harrison has been paralyzed for 20 years. The 64-year-old was working as a corrections officer in March, 1999, when it’s believed he contracted an unknown virus during a routine search.
“Rick was first man in,” says Suzy, “He got hit with a homemade baton in the head, which caused a tear to the membrane which caused this virus to enter his central nervous system.”
Rick went from working as an Institutional Crisis Intervention Officer, able to bench press 385 pounds, to being bedridden 24/7. His body may not work but his brain does. He's voted in all the previous federal elections, the past 3 or 4, Suzy says, here at home.
“Two members of Elections Canada would come in the room,” she says, “I would remove myself, he would vote, they’d seal it and they would leave.”
Elections Canada says it offers many options to help people with accessibility issues vote including voting at home. Though it's rare, it is possible, Elections Canada said in a statement, if they're "unable to read or unable to vote using the special ballot envelope system because of a disability and are unable to go to the RO office or AARO office (if any) because of a disability.”
They also need the permission of the returning officer. Suzy says that’s where the confusion seems to have happened.
“When I did call for someone to come to the house, they said they don't do that anymore.”
After calling CTV, Suzy says a returning officer made plans to allow Rick to vote this Sunday at home.
“I feel it’s being done only because I have a voice,” she says.
Rick doesn't care how it happened as long as it is happening.
“I want to vote,” he says.
Elections Canada says they do try to have as many options for voters as possible but they also need to ensure all other options have been exhausted before a home vote is arranged.