Canada won’t reschedule elections that fall on Jewish holiday

(JTA) — Canada is not changing the date of its national elections, even though they fall on a Jewish holiday.

Chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault announced Monday that he would not recommend changing the date, which coincides with the last days of Sukkot. Last week the country’s federal court ordered him to review a prior decision.

The government responded to a lawsuit filed by an Orthodox Jewish candidate in Canada’s federal election and a Jewish voter. They claimed that holding elections on Oct. 21, which is Shemini Atzeret, one of the last days of the Sukkot holiday, discriminates against observant Canadian Jews.

Of the four advance polling days, three are on other Jewish holidays or Shabbat, when observant Jews are prohibited from working, traveling, actively using electricity or performing a variety of workaday tasks. A special ballot can be sent by mail.

Perrault said he is committed to working with the Jewish community to “maximize voting options.”

Chani Aryeh-Bain, the Conservative Party candidate for the Toronto-area district of Eglington-Lawrence, is an observant Jew and therefore will not be able to campaign on Election Day, nor have members of her community campaign for her outside of polling stations.

Since 2007, Canadian law has mandated that national elections be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following the previous election. Canada’s 2008 federal election fell on the first day of Sukkot.

Editor’s note: Read B’nai B’rith Canada’s response.