Canada’s federal election falls on a Jewish holiday. A lawsuit is trying to change that.


(JTA) — A Jewish candidate in Canada’s federal election and a Jewish voter have filed a lawsuit asking to change the voting day because it falls on a Jewish holiday.

Shemini Atzeret comes out this year on Election Day, Oct. 21, which would prevent observant Jews from casting their ballots. Of the four advance polling days, three are on other Jewish holidays or Shabbat.

The lawsuit, called an application, was filed last week in federal court and asks that the election date be changed to Oct. 28.

Chani Aryeh-Bain, the Conservative Party candidate for the Toronto-area district of Eglington-Lawrence, and voter Ira Walfish of York Centre, also a Toronto-area district, filed the suit claiming that the election date discriminates against observant Canadian Jews.

Aryeh-Bain is an observant Jew and therefore would not be able to campaign on Election Day, the lawsuit says.

Both York Centre and Eglinton-Lawrence are represented by Liberal Party members who defeated Jewish Conservative incumbents in the last election, according to the Canadian Jewish News.

Canada’s 2008 federal election fell on the first day of Sukkot.

“There should have been no need for this litigation,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The Chief Electoral Officer has the discretion to shift election day to avoid ‘a day of cultural or religious significance’ under Section 56.2(1) of the Elections Act, but he has inexplicably failed to take that entirely logical step.”

Shemini Atzeret falls at the end of the week of Sukkot.

Recommended from JTA