Court orders the Chief Electoral Officer to reconsider his election date decision

The Federal Court has ordered the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada (DGE) to reconsider the possibility of moving election day in October due to a Jewish religious holiday – and to make a decision only in a few days.
E n law, federal elections can be held no later than October 21, the day which coincides this year with a Jewish holiday called Shemini Atzeret. On this holiday, practicing Orthodox Jews are not allowed to work, vote or campaign.

Elections Canada was asked to change the date, but the organization refused as the election campaign began.

At a hearing last week, the plaintiffs claimed that the decision of DGE St├ęphane Perrault was unreasonable.

In her ruling on Tuesday, Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that there was a “lack of evidence” that Mr. Perreault had struck a balance between the violation of the rights of the affected voters and the objectives of the electoral law.

Judge McDonald ordered Mr. Perrault to do this work and reconsider his decision by August 1.

In a statement posted online, the CEO has committed to meet this deadline.

“Elections Canada will act as soon as possible as directed by the court. I will make my final decision public as soon as possible. Elections Canada remains committed to providing all Canadians with the opportunity to participate in the federal election, “said St├ęphane Perrault.

According to federal law, the Chief Electoral Officer can only make a recommendation to Cabinet. He can not choose on his own to move the election date.

“Limits” to the right to vote

In early June, Conservative candidate Chani Aryeh-Bain, who ran in the Toronto riding of Eglinton-Lawrence and Ira Walfish, a constituent of York Center, applied to the Federal Court to intervene, ruling that the Chief Electoral Officer did not not taken their concerns seriously.

They also argued that advance voting days are problematic. In three of the four days of advance polls – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the week before polling day – practicing Jews will not be able to vote.

The dates chosen “significantly limit” the ability of practicing Jews to vote and “participate fully in our democracy,” Liberal MP Michael Levitt wrote in a letter to Mr. Perrault in mid-April.

Mr. Levitt, representing the riding of York Center, had asked the CEO to reconsider the date because it conflicts with religious practice.

“Practicing Jewish Canadians have the right to equality before the law. Their religion should not be an obstacle, “the MP said on Twitter last week.

Rather than changing the date, Elections Canada has chosen to ask returning officers of large Jewish constituencies to conduct outreach activities and promote extended voting hours – from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm – at polling stations. early.

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