Federal court orders review of election date that coincides with Orthodox Jewish holiday

The Federal Court has ordered the Chief Electoral Officer to review his decision to not recommend achange in the scheduled federal election date — October 21— which coincides with a Jewish holiday.

Orthodox Jewish candidateChani Aryeh-Bain, who is running for the Conservatives in the Toronto-area riding of Eglinton-Lawrence, andIraWalfish, an Orthodox Jewish political activist, said Elections Canada’sStéphane Perraultdid not properly consider their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“… This judicial review is granted as the overall decision of the CEO does not demonstrate the hallmarks of transparency, intelligibilityand 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,” says the Federal Court ruling.

The current election date coincides with the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret, which begins Oct. 20 and ends Oct. 22. Aryeh-Bain argued that during the holiday, observant Orthodox Jews must refrain from a number of activities— including voting and campaigning — and cannot ask others to work for them.

According to the judgment, the Oct.12advance polling day conflicts with the Sabbath, while the Oct. 14 advance polling day coincides with the festival of Sukkot, a Jewish holiday.

Aryeh-Bain said that, aside from preventingher from participating on voting day itself,the current federal election date will negatively affect her campaign.Eglinton-Lawrence has about 5,000 Orthodox Jewish voters and in the last three federal elections it was decided by 2,000 to 4,000 votes.

More to come …