Mr. Stéphane Perrault
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M6
Dear Mr. Perrault,
Thank you for your work in overseeing the federal election this fall. Exercising the right to choose an elected representative is crucial to the democratic process, and your team has done an excellent job in facilitating that process.
The recent federal election fell on the Jewish holy day of Shmini Atzeret. We understand that you collaborated with Jewish leaders in joint efforts to reach out to the Jewish community to make them aware of alternative dates to vote in advance polls that would not conflict with their faithful observance. We commend you for your recognition of the importance of religious observance and your efforts in accommodation so that Jewish Canadians could engage fully in the democratic process.
Given that many religiously observant Jews refrain from any form of work, including writing and car travel, on religious holy days, when Election Day and many advance polling dates fall on Jewish holy days, this makes it difficult for observant Jews to access the democratic right of voting and diminishes their opportunity to engage fully in the democratic process.
Together with Jewish leaders we ask you to consider a recommendation to change the fixed election date to a later date in the fall, such as the first Monday in November. We anticipate this recommendation could be included in your post-election report to Parliament, with hopes that future conflicts between Election Day and Jewish holy days could be avoided.
This change of date would not adversely impact our faith community and would make a significant positive difference in the lives of observant Canadian Jews.
A vital aspect of a free and democratic society is the ability of religious adherents to hold their beliefs and to practice their faith, without being marginalized or penalized. This is a Charter right, but it is fleshed out in legislation, regulations and policy. We believe no Canadian should have a harder time exercising their democratic right to vote because of their faith.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
David Guretzki, PhD
Executive Vice President
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
[Editor's note: The Canadian Council of Churches reportedly
also sent a similar letter Dec. 6.]