Following a Rosh Hashanah mailing, Canada’s ruling party is facing questions from Jews about religious profiling and privacy.
The questions arose after many Jewish Canadians received Rosh Hashanah cards from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, of the Conservative Party. This is the second consecutive year the cards have been mailed out, and critics say they raise serious concerns over voter privacy. Some of the recipients have demanded to know how the government knows they are Jewish.
Some people with Jewish-sounding surnames, but who are not Jewish, also received the cards.
Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow told the Globe and Mail newspaper Wednesday that the party doesn’t use any prepared lists and hasn’t purchased any. He said he wasn’t sure how many cards were sent out this year.
Canada’s Privacy Commissioner received complaints from people who received unsolicited Rosh Hashanah greeting cards last year but determined that the issue fell outside her jurisdiction.
B’nai Brith Canada said the cards were “a gesture of respect” toward the Jewish community and extended its “appreciation” to the prime minister.
Canadian Jewish Congress spokesperson Jordan Kerbel said the cards were “just a gesture, the same as a Chinese New Year card.”
(Editor’s note: This brief was corrected.)