Nov. 2, 2022
VICTORIA – B’nai Brith Canada is urging British Columbia to change the day of its provincial and municipal elections from Saturday to a day that better accommodates all religious groups in the province.
British Columbia law has long stipulated that elections in the province must be held on the first Saturday in October every four years. Although local by-laws allow municipalities to establish their own voting regulations, Elections BC administers the final voting day on Saturday.
“British Columbia is the only province that holds its elections on Shabbat impacting observant Jews as well as members of some Christian denominations, such as Seventh Day Adventists,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.” Ontario holds its municipal elections on Mondays and provincial elections on Thursdays. Quebec voters choose their provincial representatives on Mondays and their mayors and councillors on Sundays.”
In a letter to Nathan Cullen, British Columbia’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, B’nai Brith said elections on Saturdays provide no evident benefit but do prevent some Jews from voting on Election Day.
“In the recent municipal elections, we wrote to the major municipalities across British Columbia and were assured that they provided alternative advance voting days and in some cases mail-in voting,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “However, in all cases, observant Jews have fewer voting opportunities than the general public and some municipalities selected Saturdays for early voting.”
As the Jewish population continues to boom in British Columbia, B’nai Brith urges quick action before the next election. B’nai Brith reminded Minister Cullen that his province has an obligation to remove barriers that make it more difficult for any citizen to vote.