The date widely being touted for the next federal election in Canada falls on Sukkot.
In a message to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Canadian Jewish Congress has cautioned that the date, Oct. 14, would hamper Jews’ ability to vote.
“This is the first day of the major Jewish festival of Sukkot, an important holy day on our community’s calendar,” said a letter sent last week from the CJC’s chief executive officer, Bernie Farber. “An election on that day would have a very adverse impact on the Jewish electorate, as well as scrutineers, drivers, other campaign and Elections Canada volunteers.”
A senior government official speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded that Oct. 14 “does present challenges in terms of election timing.” But he told the Globe and Mail newspaper that there were opportunities to vote through advance polling – by mail or at designated sites, or by visiting a returning office, which runs elections in Canada.
Faced with a similar problem last year, the premier of the Canadian province of Ontario moved the date of the provincial election by six days to avoid coinciding with Shemini Atzeret.
Farber stressed that the CJC’s request to avoid an Oct. 14 Election Day was “respectful – no warnings, no threats.”