Canadian court orders review of federal election date that falls on Jewish holiday


(JTA) — Canada’s federal court has ordered the country’s chief electoral officer to review his decision not to recommend changing national elections because they fall on a Jewish holiday.

The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a Jewish candidate in Canada’s federal election and a Jewish voter claiming that the election date discriminates against observant Canadian Jews.

What it means: The federal election date or some of the advance polling days could be changed. Shemini Atzeret, one of the last days of the Sukkot holiday, falls this year on Election Day, Oct. 21. Of the four advance polling days, three are on other Jewish holidays or Shabbat.

Chani Aryeh-Bain, the Conservative Party candidate for the Toronto-area district of Eglington-Lawrence, is an observant Jew and therefore would not be able to campaign on Election Day, the lawsuit says. Voter Ira Walfish of York Centre, also a Toronto-area district, also filed the lawsuit.

“… This judicial review is granted as the overall decision of the CEO does not demonstrate the hallmarks of transparency, intelligibility and justification, as it is not possible to determine if he undertook the necessary proportionate balancing between the applicant’s charter rights and the exercise of his statutory duty,” the court ruling said, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The chief electoral officer is Stéphane Perrault.

Since 2007, Canadian law has mandated that national elections be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following the previous election. Canada’s 2008 federal election fell on the first day of Sukkot.

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