Fixed elections: PQ refuses to ‘accommodate’ Jewish community

QUEBEC CITY – Choosing a date for fixed elections was supposed to be simple. Turns out, it’s anything but.

The Parti Quebecois has suggested holding the next provincial election on October 3, 2016, on Rosh Hashanah, meaning Jews may not be able to vote.

The Liberals are outraged; they say the PQ is being intolerant.

“The issue of intolerance, please, give me a break,” said Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville. “The main issue here is not a Jewish holiday. That’s not the issue. The issue here is the principle of not setting the election date according to the different holidays. There’s more than 100 religious holidays in the calendar.”

Drainville argued if you start making exceptions for one group, you’ll have to make them for every group.

Jack Jedwab from the Association of Canadian Studies told Global News he supports fixed election dates but thinks the PQ may be acting in bad faith.

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“It’s best if despite the merits of fixed election dates it doesn’t result in the exclusion of some groups on the basis of their convictions,” Jedwab said.

Liberal leader Philippe Couillard believes there is at least one solution:

“There’s a solution that has been adopted by other provinces, where instead of saying it’s going to be that day, you say at the start of the next legislature the Premier and the government will determine within that interval what the date of the election will be. It’s a very simple amendment,” he explained.

An amendment his party has already tabled. But on Friday, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) joined the PQ in voting it down. Drainville insisted there is no accommodation to be made.

“It’s already possible for someone who wants to vote before the election date to do so,” said Drainville. “You can either vote by anticipation or at the office of the Chief electoral officer.”

The question of voting in 2016 is still theoretical. With Pauline Marois’ minority government in a fragile position, Quebecers are likely to be called for a vote sooner, probably in the next 6 to 8 months.