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Antisemitism is “rising out of faculty clubs and social justice organizations and too many government offices”, says pro-Israel Tory MP in exclusive interview

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Melissa Lantsman is disturbed that it’s become “socially acceptable for so many in official Ottawa or in the very leadership of nearly every education institution to freely denigrate Jewish people under the guise of criticizing their homeland as part of some perverse, social justice performance theater.” (Photo: Supplied)

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While theJ.ca does not name a ‘newsmaker of the year’, certainly in 2021, one particular politician in Canada emerged as the voice of unapologetic Zionism. Once she got to Parliament Hill, Melissa Lanstman made her presence felt (as the member for Thornhill, Ontario) on behalf of all Canadian Jews. We conducted an interview via email to give our readers an opportunity to learn more about her ideas on policy and ‘official Ottawa’.  

TheJ.ca: How hard was it for you to adjust from being in campaign mode to being an elected representative? 

Melissa Lantsman: The adjustment from campaign mode to successfully being elected was one that, no matter how you prepare, is never seamless. So much of the campaign is within your control. So much the day after is dependent on a different group of people you don’t have a relationship with, and who may not be as invested in your success like your campaign team was. With the team that we built who are still very much engaged post-campaign – I was able to have a great start in every aspect of the new role. Our incredible volunteer team is very much involved with the services we provide locally and give me the insight and advice that allow me to bring forward issues, nationally. Serving as an elected politician is a privilege and speaks to the confidence my campaign team and the voters put in me. I’m reminded that my position in this office is merit-based and continued membership therein depends on my conduct, my performance and knowing that I was sent to Ottawa by the people of Thornhill not the other way around.

Are there any specific issues in your riding that arose from the doorstep conversations that you are raising with the federal government? 

The doorsteps provide the exact details for my advocacy at the federal level, be it on the rising cost of living, the worsening housing crisis, transit and of course the rising tide of antisemitism in our community. We haven’t stopped reaching out — my team and I still knock-on doors and as much as possible engage directly with constituents at events, over coffee and in the community. If you’re not connecting with constituents, Ottawa can become a place where it’s easy to lose sight of the things that matter for the people that sent you there.

In your role in the shadow cabinet you have been placed in a prominent position. What kind of preparation did you have to undertake to become the critic for Transport?

The preparation never stops. I read everything. I talk to as many stakeholders as possible. I lean on people who have done this before me to understand what they did right and even what they could have done better. My understanding and experience in government and how cabinet makes decisions has helped me understand the responsibility I have to my colleagues in being the “go-to” person in caucus on anything from rail safety to air travel to trucking.

As a GTA MP and someone who grew up in a city my entire life, I have a lot of blind spots of how others may rely on transportation in more rural areas –so I’m getting lessons on just how vast and different the needs across this country are. I’ve worked with many in the both the air and transit spaces in my past private sector life, so I have a little head start on what promises to be a dynamic and busy focus in my parliamentary work.

In that role, what issues are you pressuring the Trudeau government to address?

The coming session of Parliament is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to Canadians that we are ready to govern. In my role I endeavour to bring a strong, positive, and ambitious Conservative vision to Canadians on issues that will see our trade corridors increase their efficiency and capacity without being hindered by further regulation, consumer protection measures like passenger rights and ensuring that our country refocuses on competitiveness with the unrestricted movement of people and goods. While my portfolio gives me no shortage of issues to focus on, I’ve been trusted by our team early to speak on a wide array of issues: trade, our economy, housing and foreign policy.

In general it appears that inflation, which some call a hidden tax, is now top of mind for many households, surely in Thornhill as well. How do you assess the response thus far of the Finance Minister specifically and the Trudeau government in general? 

Half a trillion dollars in Liberal deficits have ballooned inflation to an 18-year high. Housing and gas prices are up by a third. Families will pay an additional $1,000 next year to feed themselves – including families in Thornhill. The response from the government has been to do more of the same. It’s not a hidden tax, it’s an inflation tax and it is eating into the paycheques of middle-class Canadians while the government plans to spend even more.

The cost of government is ballooning the cost of living. It’s the number one issue I hear across our community and the GTA. Changing the narrative isn’t going to fix this problem for the government – it isn’t going to make our lives more affordable. That’s what we’re seeing, a government trying to distract Canadians from the biggest issue in this country.

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In your role in the shadow cabinet you have been placed in a prominent position. What kind of preparation did you have to undertake to become the critic for Transport?

The preparation never stops. I read everything. I talk to as many stakeholders as possible. I lean on people who have done this before me to understand what they did right and even what they could have done better. My understanding and experience in government and how cabinet makes decisions has helped me understand the responsibility I have to my colleagues in being the “go-to” person in caucus on anything from rail safety to air travel to trucking.

As a GTA MP and someone who grew up in a city my entire life, I have a lot of blind spots of how others may rely on transportation in more rural areas –so I’m getting lessons on just how vast and different the needs across this country are. I’ve worked with many in the both the air and transit spaces in my past private sector life, so I have a little head start on what promises to be a dynamic and busy focus in my parliamentary work.

In that role, what issues are you pressuring the Trudeau government to address?

The coming session of Parliament is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to Canadians that we are ready to govern. In my role I endeavour to bring a strong, positive, and ambitious Conservative vision to Canadians on issues that will see our trade corridors increase their efficiency and capacity without being hindered by further regulation, consumer protection measures like passenger rights and ensuring that our country refocuses on competitiveness with the unrestricted movement of people and goods. While my portfolio gives me no shortage of issues to focus on, I’ve been trusted by our team early to speak on a wide array of issues: trade, our economy, housing and foreign policy.

In general it appears that inflation, which some call a hidden tax, is now top of mind for many households, surely in Thornhill as well. How do you assess the response thus far of the Finance Minister specifically and the Trudeau government in general? 

Half a trillion dollars in Liberal deficits have ballooned inflation to an 18-year high. Housing and gas prices are up by a third. Families will pay an additional $1,000 next year to feed themselves – including families in Thornhill. The response from the government has been to do more of the same. It’s not a hidden tax, it’s an inflation tax and it is eating into the paycheques of middle-class Canadians while the government plans to spend even more.

The cost of government is ballooning the cost of living. It’s the number one issue I hear across our community and the GTA. Changing the narrative isn’t going to fix this problem for the government – it isn’t going to make our lives more affordable. That’s what we’re seeing, a government trying to distract Canadians from the biggest issue in this country.

In commenting on a report in TheJ.ca about Desmond Cole’s performance on “anti-racism” for the Toronto District School Board, Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman tweeted it was no accident: “… it’s built-in with the purpose of breathing life into accusations of racism and oppression to normalize it among teachers.” (Screencap: Twitter)

Jews were assaulted and threatened in Toronto, Winnipeg and elsewhere in Canada last May and the number of criminal charges that have been filed against the perpetrators is negligible. This makes grassroots Jews who attend public events very nervous. What support do police and Crown Attorneys need to ensure justice is done for the victims of violent antisemites in Canada? Does the federal government have a role to play in dealing with what was obviously coordinated incitement and intimidation among anti-Zionist protesters?

This is a time where it’s critical for leaders in all legislatures in all communities and throughout the private sector to speak up and publicly defend the Jewish community. Although, we see some lip service being paid through crafted statements of outrage and dismay – it’s performative. It’s not everyone, but it is becoming easier for more to stay silent.

And if that wasn’t the case, it would not be socially acceptable for so many in official Ottawa or in the very leadership of nearly every education institution to freely denigrate Jewish people under the guise of criticizing their homeland as part of some perverse, social justice performance theater.

Antisemitism is a scourge to our fundamental democratic beliefs (and) there are no deterrents for the antisemitic acts. We need powerful deterrents – we need authorities, law enforcement as well as the attorney general to investigate and charge people who promote hate speech and commit hate crimes. That does not happen.

Adopting definitions and ‘fancy people’ conferences on deciding what antisemitism is doesn’t help the many Jewish organizations setting up their own security infrastructure – at their own cost – because they aren’t being served by those in charge of protecting us. First and foremost – we need to call this out and it’s exactly what I’m doing.

Hate crime legislation is seen as a blunt cudgel by some and a remedy by others. Bill C10 and other legislation has been flagged by Jewish and pro-Israel activists as a threat to the ability of the community to protect and defend its values and security. What is your stance on this?

This legislation is deeply flawed because it does not create a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters as well as championing Canadian arts and culture – as the government purports it will.

In a society that values freedom of speech and expression, Bill C-10 leaves the door open for a massive abuse of power on the rights of Canadians. Not only would I never support this legislation that compromises our freedoms, when the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc look the other way on freedom of expression, I will not. I will fight it and commit to its full repeal if passed.

Winnipeg MP Marty Marantz and Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman are two strong voices for Jewish Canadians on Parliament Hill. “As long as I occupy the office for the Member of Parliament from Thornhill, the LED Menorah will shine bright onto the street” (Photo: Supplied)

You made a point of lighting a Chanukiah in your office window which faced the street outside Parliament. Within the precincts of Parliament Hill, have you been challenged or detected an attitude towards you for being a proud Jew and Zionist?

I’ve made a point of coming to this job with the values instilled in me by my family, my faith, and my community. I was raised by the Jewish community and in a Zionist home and I don’t intend to hide that when I go to Ottawa.

There are millions of Canadians who are motivated by faith in public life. Many in politics who so routinely embrace the “hip” social cause of the day will also gleefully sign off on what I see as deliberate attacks that target the faith of Canadians. This includes so many of the members of the House of Commons around me for the crime of daring to express their values in the public sphere.

As long as I occupy the office for the Member of Parliament from Thornhill, the LED Menorah will shine bright onto the street, a mezuzah made from Israel’s Iron Dome will adorn its door post and a proud Zionist will be sitting inside fighting the fight that many won’t.

I will be unrelenting in holding my detractors to account, whenever they choose to expediently coddle the prejudiced instead of defending the principled. When it excludes those who don’t conveniently fit their narrative. But, in the same breath, I am prepared to work constructively across this aisle should members be prepared to change their ways. Recognize that their past record is just not good enough and return principle instead of popularity to its rightful place in our discourse. 

If they ever choose to do so, they can count on an ally in the Member of Parliament from Thornhill.

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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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!

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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