Updated March 23rd, 2024 at 16:05 IST

Canada to Delay Polls to Avoid Clash With Diwali

The proposal, included in an amendment bill tabled in the House of Commons, has been welcomed by the Hindu community in Canada.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. | Image:AP

The Canadian government has put forward a proposal to shift the national elections scheduled for October 20 next year to October 27, to avoid a clash with the Hindu festival of Diwali. This move is part of a series of reforms to the Elections Act, aimed at enhancing voter participation and inclusivity.

The proposal, included in an amendment bill tabled in the House of Commons, has been welcomed by the Hindu community in Canada. Kushagr Sharma, vice-president of the Canadian Hindu Chamber of Commerce (CHCC), emphasized the importance of considering cultural and religious observances to ensure civic engagement. Sharma highlighted the impact of scheduling conflicts on voter turnout, citing a decrease in participation during municipal elections in Ontario last year when Diwali coincided with the polling date.


Good but not enough?

Rishabh Sarswat, president of the Canadian chapter of the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), expressed appreciation for the proposed change but suggested that it was not enough. Noting concerns about potential risks to the Hindu community during the election period, especially in light of past incidents involving Khalistani extremists, Sarswat emphasized the need for concrete steps to ensure the safety of the community and address issues such as Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hate crimes.


“In recent years, the Hindu community has been subjected to a series of attacks by Khalistani protesters, especially around Diwali. The election period may exacerbate risks to the Hindu community, who become more visible during festive seasons due to temple visits and traditional attire," he said. 

"Canada needs to tackle systemic issues impacting the Hindu community, particularly the surge in Hinduphobia and the uptick in anti-Hindu hate crimes,” he added. 

A political ploy?

Hindu community leaders also highlighted political dynamics, noting efforts by the ruling Liberal Party to woo back the community ahead of the elections. They attributed a shift in support towards the opposition Conservative Party to concerns about the government's approach towards pro-Khalistani elements and strained bilateral relations with India.


Published March 23rd, 2024 at 16:05 IST