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Mark Waldman, Executive Director, CJPAC. photo by Rhonda Spivak

 
Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee growing in Western Canada

by Rhonda Spivak January 26, 2011

Tthe Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) has just  opened a new Western Canada office and  hiried a Regional Director  who is establishing a permanent offcie in Edmonton..

“One third of Canadian MPs come from Western Canada. We know that if our community’s voice is to be heard, and  we need to be reaching out to the unique Jewish and pro-Israel communities of Western Canada,” Executive Director Mark Waldman siad in a statement. 

Eleanor Johnston, who will be spearheading CJPAC’s efforts as Western Regional Director, comes to CJPAC after years of political and Jewish community engagement and having served as a senior staffer to a Federal Minister.

“I’m excited to be working with the vibrant Jewish communities of Western Canada,” said Johnston. “By working together we can increase political involvement and ensure our community is engaging politicians from every political background and from every part of the country on the issues of significance to our communities.”

Her work as Regional Director begins this week in Vancouver, meeting with community leaders and running programs for students. She will then head to Edmonton where she will be establishing a permanent office before traveling to Calgary and Winnipeg for additional meetings.

“RELATIONSHIPS MATTER"

Relationships matter,”  Mark Waldman, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review when he was here just over a year ago.

He  explained that CJPAC is a “grassroots, independent organization whose mandate is to engage the Jewish community in the political process.  It builds relationships with elected officials – of all political parties – and works for Jewish community interests, on a multi-partisan basis, during and between elections.”

Waldman, a Torontonian who holds an MBA from York university,  said that members of the Jewish community  can “ get engaged in the political process,  by making a  contribution to CJPAC, becoming a CJPAC member,  and  by volunteering on a  political campaign for a candidate  of  your choice.  Volunteering enables you to build a relationship with a candidate.”

Waldman, a founder of CJPAC, emphasized that once a relationship with an elected official is built, “we can educate the official on issues relating to the Jewish community.”

Each participant who supports candidates through CJPAC represents the Jewish community and helps make our collective voice heard.

 “By helping candidates who support our Jewish community to get elected and by building relationships with leaders and decision-makers throughout the year, we ensure that we will have friends in Parliament to turn to for support,” said Waldman. “That way we make an impact beyond our numbers.”

CJPAC “raises all of the money to cover its budget by itself,” said Waldman.

What are some of the things that CJPAC does?   Throughout the year it engages thousands of members of the Jewish community, of all ages, in politics through email  campaigns and other advocacy initiatives.  For example, thousands of letters were sent and phone calls made by CJPAC members to politicians in response to their statements and actions regarding the Durban II Conference.

CJPAC also hosts 1000 young professionals and dozens of politicians for an evening of informal advocacy in both Toronto and Montreal. Last year, it organized a day for Jewish students to spend on Parliament Hill, meeting with politicians.

CJPAC also encourages members to host political fundraisers for candidates sensitive to the needs of the Jewish community, and Israel.

Community members can provide political donations to various candidates and parties working with CJPAC.  As Waldman said, “Donors support candidates and parties of their choice, but by working with CJPAC to do so, they speak with a collective voice for our community and the Canada –Israel relationship.”
 
CJPAC also runs a year long fellowship program. As Waldman explained, “This year we are providing intensive advocacy and political training to 38 university students who will become some of our community’s most effective Jewish advocates.  They are mentored by our staff, have conference calls every 2-3 weeks with politicians, and attend a four day conference in Ottawa .  The fellows are required to put on a political event on campus.”

The majority of graduates from this program go on to work in Ottawa or for local politicians and candidates.

CJPAC also has a Young Leadership Israel Advocacy Seminar, a six month program leading up to a trip to Israel the first week in September, where the next generation of the organized Jewish community (up to age 45)  can experience Israel with  Canadian  parliamentarians and senior government officials.

“It is great to be able to meet and develop relationships with Members of Parliament on this trip,” said Waldman.

The minimum amount to join CJPAC is $25.00, but, as Waldman said, “We hope that people who can afford more will contribute much more, so that we can continue   to do our work.”  (Note: There is no charitable tax receipt for donating to CJPAC. This is what allows them to perform their unique multi-partisan role).

CJPAC regularly posts what politicians have said relating to Jewish issues on its website, www.cjpac.ca

Waldman,  noted last year  that “CJPAC always uses cutting edge technology” in its work, through the internet, Facebook (www.facebook.com/cjpac) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/cjpac).

“On May 1, 2009 CJPAC was the only Canadian organization listed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) as one of the 25 most influential Jewish organizations on Twitter,” he said.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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