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A woman enters a polling station during the Burnaby South federal by-election in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, February 25, 2019..(Photo by: REUTERS/BEN NELMS)
Upcoming Canada federal elections scheduled on Jewish holiday
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
07/19/2019
Two Jewish candidates in the Canadian federal election appeared before a court to challenge the chief electoral officer’s decision to schedule the upcoming national vote on Shemini Atzeret.
Two Jewish candidates in the Canadian federal election appeared before a court on Tuesday to challenge the chief electoral officer’s decision to schedule the upcoming national vote on a Jewish holiday, the Canadian Jewish News has reported.

The elections are programed for Monday, October 21. However, from Sunday night to Tuesday night, observant Jews will be required to refrain from several activities in observance of the Jewish holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. These activities include writing, driving a car, using electricity and working.

According to the paper, this is not the first time that elections in Canada fall on a Jewish holiday, but it is the first time that the decision is challenged in court.

Observant Jews are still going to be able to cast their ballots, as there are four days of advanced polls - although not so easily, since one of them falls on a Friday, a second on a Saturday, the third on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, and the fourth on the first day of Sukkot Itself. Special ballots generally used by armed forces abroad and prison inmates are also available to religious Jews.

However, if the date is not changed the two candidates, Chani Aryeh-Bain and Ira Walfish, will not be able to campaign and be in touch with the voters on election day, which they argue would not allow them to compete on a level playing field.

The petitioners, therefore, asked for the date to be postponed to October 28.

“Holding the federal election on a date where a religious minority cannot vote by reason of their beliefs sends a message to that community that it does not count,” lawyer Colin Feasby said before the federal court hearing the case on Tuesday, according to CJN.

Feasby represented B’nai Brith Canada, which won intervener status in the action.

“The stakes are high,” he added.

A different take on the matter has been taken by Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

“While under ideal circumstances, the election date would be pushed forward to the following week, we recognize that changing the date at this juncture would entail logistical challenges and a huge financial expense,” he said, as reported by CJN.

According to the report, the latest day to change the date of the elections is August 1.

Due to the time-sensitivity of the matter, the judge promised to deliver a ruling as soon as possible.

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