Canada might have a federal election soon. How soon remains to be seen, though that hasn’t stopped the Conservatives, who are currently running their second consecutive minority government, under leadership of Stephen Harper, to start planning for a win. And they want to form a majority government this next time around.
It seems their early tactics include targeting five long-time Liberal ridings plus a bonus NDP riding. “Coincidentally,” these six ridings have large Jewish populations. Three are in Quebec (all in greater Montreal: Outremont, Mount-Royal, and Westmount-Ville-Marie), two are in Toronto (St Paul’s and Eglington-Lawrence), and the other is in Winnipeg (South Centre). With the exception of Outremont, which voted in the NDP these past two elections but had been Liberal from 1935 until then, the ridings have all been Liberal for at least 20 years (and Mount Royal sine 1940). Mount Royal’s MP is Irwin Cotler, who, in addition to being Jewish, served as both Minister of Justice and Attorney General earlier this decade. He won his first election with 91% of the vote. Winnipeg South Centre MP Anita Neville is also Jewish, and currently serves as the Liberal Critic for Indian Affairs. Now, the religious affiliations of the MPs isn’t enough reason for Jews to vote for them. But in light of the Tory accusations, are they being labeled “self-hating Jews“? [Bad midi auto-load music on that linked-to site, and it's also rather hateful all around. You've been warned.]
The Tories think they can sway these Jewish voters by mailing pamphlets to their neighbourhoods, spreading “facts” about how the Whigs (or Grits, depending on your political view or your nickname preference) don’t support Israel. And by “don’t support Israel” they of course mean “don’t support the Jews.” Because, as we all know, there’s only one accepted Jewish stance when it comes to Israel. What do the flyers say?
Conservatives are using the leaflets to tell Jewish voters that their party has fought anti-Semitism abroad and supported Israel, but the Liberals have not.
The missives say the Liberals were against listing Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations and “willingly participated in the overtly anti-Semitic Durban I” conference on racism… [Globe and Mail.]
And to counter that,
They point out, for instance, that Harper’s Conservatives “led the world” in boycotting the second UN-sponsored conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, dubbed a “hate fest against Israel.” [CBC].
There’s no mention that the then-Liberal government attended the first Durban conference at the request of Israel. Or that, after the anti-racism conference “derailed into attacks against Israel,” and Israel and the USA walked out, Israel asked Canada to stay to “defend Israel against anti-Semitic attacks”.
It also highlighted comments made by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who accused Israel of a war crime for actions taken during a 2006 conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. [Canada.com.]
While, of course, the Tories under Harper,
“strongly backed Israel’s right to self-defence against Hezbollah” during the bombardment of Lebanon in 2006… [CBC.]
But the Liberals aren’t the only ones upset by these tactics. All three major opposition parties in Parliament, Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois, have spoken out, calling this a new low for the Conservative Party. (And not only because these mailings cost an estimated $6.3million out of the federal budget.)
The only Jewish group that has spoken out about this is Bnai Brith Canada. Unsurprisingly, their CEO Frank Dimant lacks a nuanced, pluralistic view of Canadian Jews. He said that the flyers were accurate, and that the Tories are “more in tune with the Jewish community” than the Whigs/Grits because, again, there’s only one acceptable stance for Jews to take on Israel, and all Jews accept that.
This annoys me to no end. And not just because I’ve had to defend the Liberals (a party I don’t vote for) this morning.