Canada’s chief electoral officer to review election date, conflict with Jewish holiday
A change in the upcoming federal election date is possible after a federal court challenge was brought forward by a Toronto Conservative Party of Canada candidate.
Justice Ann Marie McDonald has granted a judicial review, sending the matter back to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for a “redetermination that reflects a proportionate balancing of the Charter rights with the statutory mandate.”
In her decision, McDonald noted, “it is not the role of this court to set the election date or to substitute its decision for that of the CEO’s.”
However, she added, “I am not satisfied that the necessary circumstances arise in this case to warrant the issuance of a mandamus order.”
Oct. 21, 2019 is the federal election date in Canada. It is also an important Jewish holiday called Shemini Atzeret, following the festival of Sukkot.
Chani Aryeh-Bain, who is running for the Conservatives in the riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, brought forward the legal challenge. She previously told Global News the holiday impacts her and approximately 75,000 orthodox Jews across the country.
“Shemini Atzeret restricts me from doing a lot of things,” Aryeh-Bain explained.
“We can’t drive, we can’t work, we can’t vote, we can’t use the phone, the computers, so a lot of things that need to be done on an election day I can’t do.”
Aryeh-Bain and B’Nai Brith Canada proposed moving the election date to Oct. 28.
Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, called the decision “a massive victory for the Canadian Jewish community and the cause of human rights.”
“The right to vote and run for office is one of the most fundamental rights in Canadian society, and the court was right to find that Elections Canada must give them proper consideration,” he said in a statement.
“We urge the Chief Electoral Officer to act quickly and make the right decision.”
The CEO must make his decision by Aug. 1 as per the Canada Elections Act.
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