Canadian Conservatives Woo the Jews

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 example of one flyerridings 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.

16 Responses to “Canadian Conservatives Woo the Jews”

  1. I don’t remember if you guys posted about this, but last year, Harper had his cronies go down electoral lists and find “Jewish names” and sent them all Rosh Hashanah cards. We were all charmed by the racial profiling (actually I was secretly disappointed that I didn’t get one! I guess a bunch of Christian conservatives kind of suck at identifying Jewish names).

    I used to live in Cotler’s riding, which usually goes about 80% Liberal in most elections, and the guy is adored around there. During the last election, the Tories ran an Israeli against him and really pushed for the first time, and he did ok, but I think Cotler still got a huge, huge majority. The thing about that riding is that it includes some very Jewish areas, but it also includes some very working class, newly arrived immigrant areas, and those places also love Cotler as he was instrumental in setting up a lot of community advocacy stuff there. And this Tory bullshit is not going to sway them. There has been a lot of rhetoric, lately, in the Canadian Jewish community about how “Stephen Harper supports Israel” with little to actually back up that claim with anything meaningful, but it’s clear that the PM has been working on us.

    It should be noted that all of this is part of a general trend where the Tories are working very hard to lower the general tone of political debate in Canada. Every six months or so, some shitty flier like this hits the media. The last one involved them flyering all Bloq Quebecois (the federal seperatist party) with pieces of propaganda that talked about how Gilles Duceppe, the party leader, supports pedophilia because he voted against a minimum sentencing bill. It was repulsive. What bugs me more than the party’s pandering to right wing Zionists is the general effort to win votes by treating us like we’re stupid, rather than talking to us like we’re smart. It’s a very base form of campaigning and I hope it will backfire on him.


    Hannah · November 19th, 2009 at 11:56 am
  2. Explain this to me:

    As I understand it, the conservatives in Canada generally support universal health care and mass transit. So they are very different than Republicans in many ways. Is this correct?

    I guess what I am asking is, I understand why social liberals don’t like the Canadian conservatives, but for those of us who are more hawkish but by American standards, fiscal Leftists, would we be conservatives in Canada?


    DK · November 19th, 2009 at 12:13 pm
  3. DK, in Canada there is a Conservative party; they are right of centre, and usually considered to be conservative. It helps to note which [C/c]onservative you’re talking about if you are asking a question. If you are a “fiscal Leftist” and “hawkish,” depending on your local candidates you might vote Liberal (just barely left of centre but skewing towards right) or Conservative (definitely right of centre).

    All political parties in Canada support health care and mass transit. Of late, the Conservatives have been eyeing their GOP cousins in the US and making squawks about “reforming” our system to be more of a paid, tiered, privatised system like the US. (It won’t happen though.)


    TheWanderingJew · November 19th, 2009 at 12:30 pm
  4. Hannah, thanks for your comment. I’d completely forgotten about the Rosh Hashanah cards! There was an added bonus to that scandal: they clearly had gone through lists of past voters too (or possibly bought lists from Jewish orgs?) because cards were sent to deceased Jews. (And not just those who had died since the election. A friend received one for her mother who had died several years earlier.)


    TheWanderingJew · November 19th, 2009 at 12:32 pm
  5. I guess what I am asking is, I understand why social liberals don’t like the Canadian conservatives, but for those of us who are more hawkish but by American standards, fiscal Leftists, would we be conservatives in Canada?

    Is it because the term “liberal” is used for “Left” or “Democrat” in the USA, and the term “conservative” is used for “Right” or “Republican”?

    From Webster’s:

    liberal: broad-minded; tolerant; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy or traditional forms.

    Read some of the comments on Jewschool to undertand that “Left” is not “liberal.”

    conservative: one who adheres to traditional methods or views; a cautious or discreet person

    The Republican Party which started two mistaken wars and ran up a huge national debt doesn’t fit this definition of “conservative.”


    Jonathan1 · November 19th, 2009 at 12:47 pm
  6. thank you, J1, for clearly putting it that liberal does not mean left and that conservative does not mean right. more people need to internalize that.


    Justin · November 19th, 2009 at 5:46 pm
  7. When we are talking about specific political parties, it is inappropriate to bring down philosophical definitions and meanings.

    Thank you in advance, Justin and Jonathan1, for recognizing the context of the discussion in the future.


    DK · November 19th, 2009 at 6:34 pm
  8. Is conservative a euphemism for christian missionary in Canada?

    Otherwise I fail to see why it’s controversial that a political party is reaching out to a segment of society.


    formermuslim · November 19th, 2009 at 8:30 pm
  9. Thank you in advance, Justin and Jonathan1, for recognizing the context of the discussion in the future.

    If so you say, DK. Let’s watch MSNBC. I guess smearing people who disagree with you as best you can is “liberal.”

    Let’s watch Fox News. I guess having scantily-clad female newscasters, who advocate increasing troop depolyment in wars with no objective, is “conservative.”


    Jonathan1 · November 19th, 2009 at 9:37 pm
  10. TWJ, I’m not clear on your issue here. Are you angry that a political party is campaigning for Jewish voters? Or is it specifically that a non-leftist political party is campaigning for Jewish voters?


    Eric · November 20th, 2009 at 12:01 am
  11. DK- I mean, I don’t know the context of these political because I’m totally ignorant of Canadian politics. All I was saying was that there’s alot of people out there who think liberal=left and conservative=right, and in most political discourse they are more than not used interchangeably when they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. In that regard, it seems to me that J1′s comment only adds to this discussion because there may be contexts which the terms can be interchangeable, and so forth. I’m not sure why you deem his or my own comment as inappropriate. I don’t think he was criticizing anyone or anything per se, rather just noting that in your comment it seems like, and I just want to add I was not responding to your comment, just noting that I liked J1′s description, that in your comment it seems like hawk=right=conservative and left=liberal. If my fiscal leftist you don’t mean a Democrat, than what do you mean? And if by hawk you don’t mean conservative (in the context of American politics) than what do you mean? So I’m not sure J1′s comment was on the Conservative party in Canada as much as commenting on the terms “leftist” and hawk”. It also seems to me that J1′s comment is really, in fact, on his experience adding to discussions on Jewschool posts as one of the few and regular commenters who appears to not fit the “party line” of Jewschool folk, if such a thing even exists. anyways, I think you get my point.


    Justin · November 20th, 2009 at 12:05 am
  12. Justin and Jonathan1,

    I was annoyed that you took my statement to conflate Liberal with Left, or Conservative with Republican, since — within the frame of a political discussion, I was contrasting both social liberal politics and fiscally Left politics. Since I am not particularly liberal in the social liberal way, nor Republican in any way, and do not conflate even conservative politics with Republicanism, I am unsure if we really disagree on this issue. I am hardly party line myself, so I am taken aback at this attack.

    I agree that the duopoly here is a dumbing down of political thought, particularly in our punditry prone media. Anyway, I appear to have overreacted to your statement.


    DK · November 20th, 2009 at 2:11 am
  13. You’re a good person, DK.

    Shabbat Shalom.


    Jonathan1 · November 20th, 2009 at 2:12 am
  14. @Eric, the issue here is the lies and the assumption that one singular view on Israel is the way to attract all Jewish voters. As I noted, I’m not trying to defend the Liberals – I don’t vote for them, and they’re certainly not “leftist.”


    TheWanderingJew · November 20th, 2009 at 10:10 am
  15. [...] to Canadian Conservatives Woo the Jews: Leading members of the Jewish community – many identified as Liberals – have sent a letter to [...]


    More From Canada | Jewschool · November 24th, 2009 at 12:05 am
  16. [...] sure to give examples that demonstrate that they are not anti-Semitic so that they can a) get the Jewish vote and b) demonstrate to others that they’re not racist. I find the whole premise bizarre. [...]


    Playing the Jewish Card in Politics | Jewschool · December 4th, 2009 at 11:07 am

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