The 2015 federal election is well underway, and while casting a vote on Oct. 19 is very important, there is more that can and should be done. It is vital that our community – the Jewish and pro-Israel community – engage further in the democratic process by volunteering.
Why? The answer comes down to two main reasons: demographics and geography. Demographically speaking, the Jewish population represents just over one per cent of the total Canadian population. There are also only a handful of ridings where there is a strong community presence – only three per cent of the total number of 338.
This means that in order for the Jewish and pro-Israel community to make an impact beyond its numbers, we need to be strategic and get engaged in record numbers.
This is where the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) can help. We are a multi-partisan organization whose mandate is to encourage community members to get involved in the democratic process by volunteering with the candidate or campaign of their choice.
Volunteers are hard to come by, which means that showing up can make a significant difference – even a few hours will go a long way. When political pundits talk about a campaign having a good “ground game,” they are referring to the deployment of volunteers and their ability to drive their supporters to the polling booth. You can singlehandedly impact the outcome in a close race.
As a small community, we have the biggest impact by volunteering not only for our friends in local ridings but also in ridings where our community does not have much of a presence, where there are close races, and with friends in all parties. CJPAC can help by connecting community members with campaigns across the country. There is so much ground to cover.
We have been extremely fortunate that all three major political parties in Canada have shown support for both Israel and the Jewish community. Still, we cannot become complacent. We must remain active in the political arena, and volunteering is an excellent way to build key relationships.
Campaigns desperately need people for all kinds of tasks, so wherever your strengths lie, you can be sure there is a role for you. Volunteers will make phone calls on behalf of candidates to track support, canvass neighbourhoods and knock on doors, hand out literature on the street or at front doors, put up candidates’ signs, drive voters to polling stations on election day and perform other tasks crucial to their campaign team’s success. On election day, volunteers help “get out the vote” and work as scrutineers.
Our community has a long history of political engagement and this election should be no exception. It is part of our civic duty – as Canadians and as Jews – to get involved.
During the 2011 federal election, CJPAC helped connect 900 volunteers with political campaigns across the country and in all major political parties. By becoming a volunteer and working with us to connect with the candidate or campaign of your choice, you can help not only our democracy, but also our community, ensuring that we have a large impact on Oct. 19 and beyond.
We look forward to seeing you all on the campaign trail in the weeks to come.
Jonathan Bloomberg is the chair of CJPAC. Mark Waldman is the executive director of CJPAC