Dion used a visit to a Jewish community centre in Winnipeg to condemn the prime minister’s choice of Oct. 14 – the first day of the festival of Sukkot - for the national vote.
“I believe holding the election on this day violates the right of many Jewish Canadians to equal participation in the electoral process,” Dion told a crowd of students at the Asper Jewish community centre.
“This did not have to happen,” Dion said, noting that Harper’s election call flies in the face of the Conservatives’ own legislation which set October 2009 as the date of the next vote.
The Conservatives have defended their choice of election day, saying that Jewish voters can respect the holiday by casting their ballots at advance polls.
But Dion said that response deprives them of the chance to take in developments in the final weeks and days of the election that could sway their choice.
“Jewish voters have the same right as other Canadians to take into account the last week of an election campaign,” he said to applause.
And he noted that many Jews will not be able to work as campaign volunteers or at Elections Canada.
“Many Jews will not be able to participate as fully as they would like to on election day,” he said.
- From Bruce Campion-Smith