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Freedom Party of Ontario


For immediate release

Ontario By-Elections: February 8, 2007 (Parinirvana / Nirvana Day)

Open Letter to Dalton McGuinty
Re: By-elections on Buddhist Holy Day of Parinirvana (Nirvana Day)

January 12, 2007, India and Ontario, Canada 

Dear Premier McGuinty,

Hours before leaving with a trade delegation to India, the birthplace of Buddhism, it was announced that your government has scheduled February 8, 2007 as polling day for by-elections in three electoral districts in your home province of Ontario, Canada.  As you should know, February 8, 2007 is the date on which many Buddhists observe Parinirvana (also known as Nirvana Day), which marks the death of Buddha.

As you should know, based upon Canada Census data, the percentage of Buddhists in two of those electoral districts are approximately triple the provincial average:

  • Markham: 3.59% (5,090 of a total population of 141,900: click here for source data)
  • York South-Weston: 3.57% (4,050 of a total population of 113,585: click here for source data)
  • Ontario (whole province): 1.13% (128,320 of a total population of 11,285,550: click here for source data)

Your government recently passed amendments to Ontario's Election Act that were adopted to as to reduce the likelihood that polling day would coincide with a day of "cultural or religious significance".   The tentative date for Ontario's next General election is October 4, 2007, which is also the date of Shemini Atzeret, a holy day observed by at least some Jewish individuals in Ontario (approximately 190,800 of whom constitute 1.69% of Ontario's 11,285,550 population).  Given the religious significance of that day to Jewish people, and given the possibility of the coincidence of other religious observances, the Chief Electoral Officer and his staff have done extensive research and consultation to determine whether Ontario's next General Election should be held on a date other than October 4, 2007.  Given the amount of effort being expended, an answer and final decision is not expected until the summer of 2007. 

If outward appearances serve, no effort has been made to expend any effort at all in respect of the Buddhism, Parinirvana, and the by-election polling day of February 8, 2007.

Premier McGuinty, I believe that you owe the Buddhist populations in the ridings of Markham, York South-Weston, and Burlington - and the various individuals and organizations with whom you are currently meeting in the birthplace of Buddhism - some answers:

  1. If it is appropriate for the government to schedule election dates around days of religious significance, why did you choose to hold three by-elections on the same day as Parinirvana? 
  2. What considerations did your government make when deciding that the Parinirvana is not a day of "religious significance"? 
  3. Given that provisions respecting days of religious signficance apply both to general elections and to by-elections, why did your government not provide the Chief Electoral Officer with sufficient notice to determine whether February 8, 2007 is suitable for the holding of by-elections? 
  4. Given that the Buddhist population in Ontario is almost as large as the Jewish population, and given that huge amounts of research, consultation and effort are being carried out in respect of October 4, 2007, why has the Buddhist population been given almost no recognition or consultation in respect of these by-election dates?

You will forgive me for noticing that your government dropped the election writ and announced these by-elections knowing that the New Democratic Party (NDP) had not yet nominated any candidates for the three electoral districts in question.  Your party having lost a seat to the NDP in the most recent by-election, it has also been widely speculated that your Liberal party is very concerned about losing the support of its left wing to the NDP.  Is it not the case, Premier, that in choosing Parinirvana as polling day for the coming three by-elections, you put the obtaining of an electoral advantage ahead of the concerns of Buddhist voters?

Buddhists in Ontario - and in India - deserve answers.  In fact, all religious communities in Ontario deserve to know when their religious observances will matter to your government.  Will Hindus in Ontario receive the same short-shrift from your government?  Exactly how do you expect to attract India's business to Ontario if you are willing to accommodate religious concerns only when it does not interfere with getting an unfair advantage over other political parties? 

Ontarians, and the people of India, deserve answers now.

Paul McKeever
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario

For further details, contact: Paul McKeever

Cell: ***-***-****
website: https://freedomparty.on.ca

This media release distributed to all major news media in Ontario and in India, and to Ontario's MPPs.

Freedom Party of Ontario
240 Commissioners Road West
London, Ontario

Tel: 1-800-830-3301
web: https://freedomparty.on.ca