On December 6, 2019, Peter Noteboom, General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches, sent a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Mr. Stéphane Perrault, to express the Council’s support for consulting with religious communities to ensure fixed election dates do not conflict with major religious holidays.
The letter was a response to the date of the recent federal election, October 21, 2019, which conflicted with the Jewish holy day of Shemini Atzeret. As the letter points out, the Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act recognizes “cultural and religious” holidays are important moments in the lives of many Canadians. The observance of a religious holiday, when it coincides with an election date or the scheduling of advance polls, can preclude or hinder some from voting or from volunteering or participating in other forms of engagement during the election process.
To address this challenge, the letter encourages the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada to conduct an early and broad-base consultation with all religious communities in advance of a foreseeable Federal Election.