Only a few months away from October's federal election, A Toronto Conservative Candidate wants the election moved, and is asking the Federal Court to change the voting day because it falls on a Jewish holiday.
The current voting day for Canada is set to be on October 21, which falls directly inside the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret. Between October 20 - 22, Orthodox Jews are to refrain from working, campaigning or voting, rendering them unable to vote in the federal election.
According to the National Post, the application that was filed on Thursday argued that “Election Canada’s refusal to move voting day is unreasonable.”
Under federal law, it is not possible for the election day to be moved any later than October 21, however politician Chani Aryeh-Bain, who is hoping to win in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence (currently held by the Liberals), is asking the court to make exceptions, against the wishes of the chief electoral officer.
In accordance with federal law, the chief electoral officer is only able to make a recommendation to the cabinet, and does not have the ability to move the election date directly. In this case, the chief electoral officer was not prepared to make that commitment.
Elections Canada said the reason given by the chief electoral officer was timing and said that it was not possible to change the date “this close to the start of the election.” The statement acknowledged the “unfortunate” clash.
B’nai Brith Canada, which is an organization that advocates for Canadian Jews and human rights, also raised the issue with Elections Canada earlier this year. The organization also notes that on three out of four ‘advance’ voting days in Canada, which are held during the week prior to election day, also fall on dates that would prevent observant Jews from voting.
The CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, Michael Mostyn, said “The chief electoral officer has the discretion to shift election day to avoid ‘a day of cultural or religious significance’ … but he has inexplicably failed to take that entirely logical step.”
Since the government has not made any official moves to change the vote, Canadians can still mark their calendars to vote on Monday, October 21.