Reply of the Chief Electoral Officer

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In a letter dated 6 April 2011 to Elections Canada, the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Most Reverend Pierre Morissette, had expressed concern that the advance polls for the next federal elections are scheduled for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. This, Bishop Morissette had said, could limit Elections Canada staff or volunteers who wished to participate in religious services.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Marc Mayrand, has replied to the CCCB President. In a letter he states that “Elections Canada is aware that advance polls … coincide with several days of significant religious observance for the Christian and Jewish communities.” At the same time, the Chief Electoral Officer points out that “the dates for advance polls … flow from legislative requirements” and so “will occur on the 10th, 9th and 7th days before Election Day.”

Adding that he fully understands and appreciates the concern and interest of the CCCB President, Mr. Mayrand said that “when poll workers accept employment at advance polls, they are made aware of the days and hours of operation of those polls, as set out in the Canada Elections Act.” Employees, he added, are encouraged “to inform their supervisors, should they wish to modify their work schedules so that appropriate arrangements can be made.”

Mr. Mayrand concludes his letter by stating that “we share your interest in being responsive to the needs of electors and election workers, to the extent possible, in the context of the electoral calendar and the requirements of the legislation”.

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Canada’s oldest diocese, the Archdiocese of Quebec, was established in 1674. Most Reverend François de Laval was its first Bishop.