[Editor’s note: Jonah Mozeson is studying law at the University of Manitoba. He previously worked for the Government of Canada for four years.]
I am thankful to the Winnipeg Jewish Review for allowing me to discuss why Jewish Canadians should support Stephen Harper and Conservative Party candidates in Winnipeg and across the country. I could use this opportunity to describe actions Stephen Harper and his government have taken over the last 5 years to ensure Canada is leading the global economic recovery, cutting taxes, and supporting seniors – all of which have a major impact on you and your families. I could also use this opportunity to attack Stephen Harper’s opponents and reiterate some of the harmful statements they have made about the State of Israel, but I want to write about what Stephen Harper has done to earn your support and why you should consider voting for Conservative candidates.
Too often, Mr. Harper’s opponents tell you as Jewish Canadians to ignore his world-class record of supporting Israel and Canada’s Jewish community and focus on other issues, or they try to paint him as having ulterior motives, but as someone who knows the Prime Minister and worked for many years in the Conservative government, I can tell you that his support is real, genuine, and makes a tangible difference.
I do not need to relate all the things the Conservative Party has done for Israel since coming to power in 2006, but I want to be clear that this support for Israel begins with Stephen Harper and permeates all levels of the Conservative Party. This is a strong friendship that can be counted on in both good times and bad.
This friendship has been tested during two major conflicts – one involving Hezbollah and the other Hamas – and on each occasion, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood firmly with Israel and its right to protect its citizens from terrorist aggression despite much criticism by the media and opposition parties.
This support is not only demonstrated in direct ties, but also in various international fora like the UN, where Canada has consistently supported Israel out of principle even to our detriment, and the Francophonie, where Stephen Harper personally blocked the passage of a one-sided resolution condemning Israel. Harper’s actions have shifted the entire paradigm in Canadian politics to a point where support for Israel now goes unquestioned as opposed to the ambivalence about Israel’s right to defend itself that previously prevailed.
Under Stephen Harper, the Canada-Israel relationship has grown to heights never seen before. Whether it is in the economic and trade sphere, or defense and intelligence cooperation, the bilateral relationship is strong and growing even closer. Hardly a month goes by where there is not a Canadian minister visiting Israel in order to seek additional areas of cooperation.
However, Stephen Harper’s historic support of the Jewish community is not limited to supporting Israel; he truly is a supporter of Jewish communities in distress around the world. After the Venezuelan government expelled Israel’s ambassador, it was Stephen Harper who ensured that Canada stepped in, not only to represent Israel’s diplomatic and consular interests in that country, but also to encourage Venezuela to ensure the security of its Jewish community and end state-sponsored anti-Semitism. After Jews were savagely attacked in Mumbai in 2008, Stephen Harper made a point to visit the sites of these barbaric attacks to memorialize their victims and has seen it as his “duty” to take action to ensure that such anti-Semitism does not manifest itself here in Canada.
It is therefore important to discuss Stephen Harper’s domestic support for Canadian Jewry.
Stephen Harper’s government has worked closely with the Jewish community in Canada in addressing many issues of concern. One of these was the real threat Jewish communal institutions, like schools, cemeteries and synagogues, faced from anti-Semitic acts, vandalism, and terrorism. To this end, the government, in consultation with the Canadian Jewish community, provided significant funds for their newly-created Security Infrastructure Program to assist these institutions in installing security equipment.
The government has also supported institutions to help support community growth here in Winnipeg and across the country. $100,000 was provided to the Asper Jewish Community Campus to assist with the purchase of security infrastructure and the federal government’s $320,000 support of the Jewish Learning Centre was essential in the development of the project. Also, Conservative Members of Parliament from Winnipeg were instrumental and took the lead in passing the legislation to allow the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to teach Canadians about how the Holocaust universalized the notion of human rights for all of us. These are but a few examples of the various projects that this government has supported in the various Jewish communities across Canada.
One of the things I am most proud of is my government’s strong condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism, including those who seek to delegitimize the State of Israel. Stephen Harper has ensured that his ministers and all members of his caucus lead the charge in their communities against the scourge of hatred against Jews. Our country was the first to boycott the Durban II conference after its predecessor descended into an anti-Jewish hate-fest. We have also joined the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating anti-Semitism, whose 2nd annual conference our country hosted last fall and where the Prime Minister delivered a world-renowned speech that reiterated his commitment to combating anti-Semitism and supporting Israel and the Jewish community.
One of the saddest moments in our country’s history was the immigration policy towards Jews adopted by the Mackenzie King government before, during and after the Holocaust. I was especially proud when our government officially apologized for this dark moment in our history and allotted funds for an education program to teach children the consequences of this period’s immigration policy. Furthermore, just this past January, our government unveiled a monument, known as the Wheel of Conscience, to memorialize Canada’s 1939 refusal of entry to the 900-plus Jewish refugees on board the M.S. St Louis, many of whom went on to perish in the Holocaust, and the “none is too many” exclusionary, anti-Jewish period it epitomized.
As someone who is closely involved with the Conservative Party, I can tell you that anti-Jewish policies will never find a home in Canada while Stephen Harper is our Prime Minister. He is someone who places principle before political expediency and has demonstrated the strong, courageous leadership needed when these values become tested. The Canadian Jewish community certainly has a true, genuine friend in Stephen Harper, and you should take this into consideration when casting your ballots on May 2nd.