Elections Canada’s refusal to change the date of the federal election could be preventing upwards of 392,000 Jewish Canadians from casting their vote.
This year’s federal election on October 21 falls on an important Jewish holiday which requires all participants to refrain from using vehicles, technology, and even writing.
A member of the local Prince George Jewish community, Eli Klasner-Giganc said the government’s decision feels like disenfranchisement.
“The Jewish community is vibrant coast-to-coast across Canada, and one can’t help but wonder if the election was falling on another holiday of another world religion would we even be having this question? That said it’s really about wanting to vote and participate in the democratic process.”
He added the issue is compounded by the fact three of the four advanced polling days also fall on Shabbat making the Jewish community feel conflicted between their religious beliefs and voting.
“A lot of the Orthodox Jewish communities in Canada are in concentrated areas in neighbourhoods and cities, and so I think that’s definitely going to skew voting results in very particular areas.”
In a statement, Stéphane Perrault, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada said, “this is not a decision that I make lightly, but to provide the broadest possible range of accessible voting services to the population at large.”
However, Klasner-Giganc feels elections Canada hasn’t done enough.
“We were compelled to take this to federal court just to get Elections Canada even to consider the possibility of moving the date, and they sort of ran out the clock on that so now it’s too late.”