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Canada’s Federal Election: An Opportunity for Jewish Voters to Have Their Say

Image credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

August 16, 2021

OTTAWA – Canadians will head to the polls September 20th. This is an opportunity for members of Canada’s Jewish community to play their role in the democratic process.

Since the last federal election, B’nai Brith Canada has been engaged in consultations with Elections Canada officials, advocating for the democratic rights of Jewish voters, particularly on the matter of the election date. Our overriding goal has been a process that takes account of the needs of observant Jewish voters, to avoid the unfortunate circumstances of 2019.

Discussions with Elections Canada have been productive, with officials clearly sensitive to concerns arising from the last election. Elections Canada will again be publishing its voters’ guide in Hebrew, Yiddish and numerous other languages.

In 2021, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elections Canada will also be introducing innovations to the voting process, which will ensure opportunities for members of the Jewish community to make their views count: voting by mail and special ballot measures will be expedited, and special drop boxes will be part of the electoral landscape. These measures will be beneficial to Jewish candidates and electors, campaign staff and volunteers.

Unfortunately, the election date selected this year is September 20, which is Erev Sukkot, meaning that observant Jews will lose a few hours of voting at the end of the day and will be unable to participate in the ballot scrutineering process. However, unlike in 2019, none of the four advanced voting days will fall on a Jewish holiday (one is on Shabbat, as it is each year). Moreover, B’nai Brith notes that because this is not a fixed election, the Chief Electoral Officer does not have the option pursuant to s. 56.2(1) of the Canada Elections Act to recommend that the date be switched in order to avoid a Jewish holiday.

B’nai Brith Canada will again be mounting an online Election Centre in 2021. Although an abbreviated campaign will have an impact on our advocacy and outreach efforts, we will be focused on ensuring Jewish community members have the information and tools they need to fully participate in the democratic process.

For now, we encourage the community to follow us on social media for developments (see social media icons below). In addition, Elections Canada is already making information resources available; for example, the ‘Inspire Democracy’ initiative provides a series of toolkits that can help inform you and spread the word.

We urge Canadian Jewish electors to play their full part in the upcoming federal election!