TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian government minister who said the Jewish community receives “privileged treatment” denied that a 2016 election scheduled for Rosh Hashanah discriminates against Jews.
“Give me a break,” said Bernard Drainville, the Parti Québécois minister of democratic institutions and active citizenship, in response to a reporter’s question about his refusal to change the proposed date for Quebec’s first fixed-date election in 2016, which coincides with the Jewish New Year.
Drainville said it will be possible to vote before the election on Oct. 3, 2016, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Last week, one of Quebec’s opposition parties, the Coalition Avenir Québec, joined Parti Québécois in voting down a Liberal Party amendment that would have allowed flexibility in setting the election date if it coincided with a religious holiday or for other reasons.
Lawrence Bergman, a veteran member of the provincial Legislature for a largely Jewish Montreal-area district, said an election on Rosh Hashanah would mean “some people will not have a chance to vote.”
But Drainville insisted that “the main issue here is not a Jewish holiday.”
“The issue here is the principle of not setting the election date according to the different religious holidays,” he said, according to the Gazette. “There are more than 100 religious holidays in the calendar. You cannot say we’re going to allow for the postponement of the vote according to one religion because other religious communities will also demand the same.”
Last month, Drainville opposed the relaxation of parking restrictions in Montreal on Jewish holidays, saying the Jewish community receives “privileged treatment.”