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Trudeau appearance at Food Fare irks Winnipeg Israelis

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Jewish and pro-Israel voters in Canada are weighing their options for the September 20 federal election. (Image: ICC)

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Who is potentially the best political leader regarding relations with Israel and the Canadian Jewish community? 

Annamie Paul of the Green Party of Canada immediately comes to mind as the first female Jewish leader of a Canadian party. Paul was elected leader of the party in October 2020. We have seen the price that Paul has paid already in that role. 

Although she comes through as a competent and moderate leader, the problem with supporting Annamie Paul is the party she represents. A segment of the Green party is rabidly anti-Israel and regularly crosses the line into outright antisemitism, as witnessed with the way Paul herself was attacked for her moderate views regarding Israel and the Middle East.

It was Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and Israel’s response that almost tore apart the Greens. As the fighting raged, Paul issued a statement calling the conflict “extremely disturbing” and wanted “an immediate de-escalation in the violence and a return to dialogue as a means to seeking a peaceful solution.”  One of the three elected Green party members, Jenica Atwin, called Paul’s statement inadequate and added the ugly phrase “End Apartheid” to her own statement. Shortly after, Atwin left the Greens and crossed over to the Liberals, who welcomed her warmly.

In June, the party stated that a vote of non-confidence on Paul would happen. Paul hit back, saying it was a racist and sexist attack on her. In July, the vote was cancelled. Just this week an internal report was leaked that claimed there is ‘systemic racism at the governance level of the party.’ It has been turbulent for Paul but she has held her own against the Israel haters and her personal enemies. 

Maxime Bernier was a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. He later withdrew and founded his own political party. Bernier and the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) don’t specifically mention Israel in their foreign policy platform. On August15 when the election was called, he stood at a lecturn and during his remarks about the other parties he specifically stated “The Green Party is torn between a faction that wants to destroy the modern industrial world and bring us back to the stone age, and another one that’s obsessed with Israel and Jews. Its leader says these people in her own party are racist, sexist and anti-Semitic.”

As of last weekend most polling indicated his party was up to doubling the troubled Green in support, approaching 10% in BC and exceeding that projection in Alberta. PPC promotes a “Canada first” strategy. 

However, it is noteworthy that the PPC do acknowledge the corrupt nature of the United Nations in the election campaign. Non-democratic and dictatorial countries are the vast majority within the UN and have the most influence within the assembly, running many councils and committees (Durban IV, anyone?). This has now led to the surreal and ridiculous situation with member states of the UN Human Rights Council being among the worst human rights violators on the planet.  In regards to disdain for the antisemites at the UN, Bernier and supporters of Israel have known the score for a long time. Bernier has, however, denounced Israeli “illegal settlements” as an impediment to peace.

Jagmeet Singh has led the New Democratic Party since 2017. The NDP are battling with the Green party for votes on the left. They could potentially wield some political power if there is another minority government elected.

Like the Greens, the NDP has a vocal anti-Israel wing within the party and they are reflected in the election platform. They promote a two-state solution but do not elaborate on what that means. The platform goes on to state that an NDP government would halt arms sales to Israel until the end of the “illegal occupation” – no elaboration.   

Significantly, there are no specific references to any other troubled regions or conflicts around the world besides China in the NDP election manifesto. In other words, complete silence about human rights abuses in Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Myanmar, Iran, or Syria etc. 

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Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberals are being vague about their foreign policy so far. They have promised assistance to the Rohingyas persecuted in Myanmar and more international Covid-19 aid. On Tuesday, according to CBC, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau changed his tone today and said for the first time that the protests in Cuba were a political demand for freedom and democracy, and not driven by complaints about shortages of material goods.”  CBC noted, “A previous statement made no mention of democracy, and did not condemn the government’s use of force to break up demonstrations.”

In the Liberal platform released on Wednesday, there was no mention of Israel. “Antisemitism” was mentioned three times. The first time, it was placed behind “Islamophobia” in referring to “a troubling rise in hatemotivated (sic) crimes”, even though statistics of antisemitic incidents in Canada dwarfs all others including anti-Muslim incidents.

The other mentions were to brag about holding the Cotler summit, and the last was to claim they will include recommendations from the summit in a “National Action Plan on Combatting Hate” if they are re-elected. 

As it relates to Jewish and pro-Israel voters, some recent actions have been revealing. As mentioned, in June the Liberals welcomed former Green MP and faux-repentant Israel-hater Jenica Atwin warmly into their party. In the campaign, Trudeau held a press conference in Winnipeg at a supermarket, one of a chain of outlets owned by a local Palestinian family. But recent controversy around the family was unreported in mainstream media.

“I don’t know why he chose to go to FoodFare or where else he went. Do you know if he visited any Jewish or pro-Israel establishments?” asked Yolanda Papini-Pollock, President of Winnipeg Friends of Israel. “I can only say that when I saw it online I remembered who owns Food Fare and who organized the antisemitic car rally in Winnipeg during the war in Gaza.” 

The Israeli Canadian Council had arranged with Winnipeg police to occupy a specific corner for a pro-Israel rally the same day and when they were spotted, the pro-Palestinian group de-boarded their vehicles and lobbed rocks, water bottles and threats of rape and assault towards the small contingent of Zionists. Two ICC flags were stolen and burnt right on the street in front of police. To this date, no charges, of hate crimes, assault or anything else, have been laid.

Yet to be answered are the questions of Pepini-Pollock: Was it a coincidence Justin Trudeau chose this chain to speak at? When will he speak at a pro-Israel establishment? 

“Justin Trudeau chose to stop at Food Fare during his campaign day in Winnipeg. We are wondering why” posted Winnipeg Friends of Israel to their Facebook page. The organization’s president told TheJ.ca, “I remembered who owns Food Fare and who organized the antisemitic car rally in Winnipeg during the war in Gaza.” (Image: WFOI Facebook)

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is emerging as a strong contender for prime minister as the election campaign unfolds. O’Toole, with a background of military service and law, became party leader in late 2019. There is no question his performance thus far in promoting the election platform of the Tories has made voters who were skittish on Trudeau’s style over substance governance (“I don’t think about monetary policy”) give O’Toole a closer look.

For supporters of Israel this increase in Blue voter support is good news.

In their platform, the Conservatives say they will finally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy there: “Canada’s Conservatives will always support Israel’s existence as a sovereign democratic Jewish state with the right to self-determination and to live in peace and security,” it says, vowing to “recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem.”

O’Toole has issued statements supporting Israel’s right to defend itself in the past and in the campaign has twice restated his commitment to move the embassy. He also clarified it would not change Canada’s longstanding policy of pursuing a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. The platform also promises to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. 

All indications point to warm relations with Israel if the Conservatives keep up their current pace.

Who will win? There is a high probability that the election will result in another minority government, whether Liberal or Conservative. None of the pundits even considered a tight race and not so long ago some were whispering O’Toole need to be ousted before a campaign. No one has suggested he start measuring the drapes for 24 Sussex, but so far he has not had any uncomfortable moments in front of the cameras.

And in an unanticipated twist, the rise of dangerous enemies of Israel may help O’Toole and the CPC make new friends at the polls. As Rex Murphy wrote: “Erin O’Toole is not a genius campaigner, but that may not matter hardly at all once people register the gut-feeling there was absolutely no need to call an election, that calling it on the day the women and girls of Afghanistan were returned to the cruel and sadistic ministrations of the Taliban was extremely crass.”

(With files from TheJ.ca staff)

Mark Shiffer is a freelance writer for a number of publications and to The Blogs of Times of Israel. One of his main interests is history and especially Jewish history.

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Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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