MONTREAL — The Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) recently held an election-training event at Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation.
Lawrence David, Sara Berger, Hillel Montreal executive director Jeff Bichler, and CJPAC fellow Zach Paikin. [Vicky Tobianah photo]
The Aug. 12 event aimed to “engage the community in the political process, mobilize grassroots across the country and build relationships with elected officials – from all political parties, during and between elections,” said CJPAC’s Quebec region director, Steeve Azoulay.
Election-training workshops are a recent CJPAC initiative designed to help the community continuously have a presence in political affairs. The workshops have in the past been delivered to CJPAC fellows – students who represent CJPAC on Canadian university campuses. Their success encouraged CJPAC to create an open, city-wide event for all demographics.
Students are not the only ones volunteering on political campaigns, and this “reflects the fact that people who volunteer on campaigns come from every walk of life and demographic,” Azoulay said.
“Events like these are designed to educate and encourage members of our community of the importance of political engagement and the positive impact they can have when they get involved in the political process.
“We should always remember how fortunate we are to be living in a democratic country. It is our privilege and right to participate in the political process, and it has been our experience that too many people sit by and do not exercise that opportunity,” Azoulay said.
Zach Paikin, a CJPAC fellow, said the event “brought together experienced political advocates with less experienced individuals. Everyone learned from one another. Essential tools were given so that we would all be able to go home and feel comfortable working on campaigns.”
CJPAC plans to hold election-training events this fall in Toronto and Vancouver, part of CJPAC’s plan to reach out to Western Canada.
To followup after the Montreal event, CJPAC will place volunteers on political campaigns across the country. “There are 308 federal ridings in Canada, but Jews only live in 13 ridings in any great number. Volunteering is a great way to branch out and develop relationships with candidates and elected officials from other ridings, which allows the community to have a greater impact,” said Azoulay.