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Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger



by Rhonda Spivak, posted November 17, 2011

Manitoba’s special relationship with Israel will continue “absolutely” a beaming Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review at the New Democratic Party’s victory celebration  at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on the night of  the recent Provincial election on October 4. Selinger’s New Democratic Party was re-elected for a fourth term with a majority government.
When asked whether Jewish community and business leader Mel Lazareck would be  "re-appointed" and continue in his role as Manitoba’s special representative to Israel for community and economic relations, an appointment Selinger made a year ago, the Premier responded, “For sure. He [Lazareck] is a superb guy. We will continue to do good things together.”

Manitoba's Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick, who was re-elected as MLA for the Riel constituency, told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that she looks forward to continuing to develop and deepen Manitoba’s ties with Israel. “We are going to continue our work and I am very excited. "

Melnick and Lazareck  are both in Tel-Aviv  this week attending the Third International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy and Environmental Control that takes place November 15-17 at the  Tel-Aviv Exhibition Grounds.

The State of Israel sees this as an important event designed to promote the reputation and the capabilities of Israeli Water Technology and CleanTech industries in the international marketing arena.

 "I'm sure that the conference will be a  terrific educational experience," Lazareck told the Winnipeg Jewish Review prior to his trip, saying that a look at the  Watec Israel 2011 website makes it clear how significant an opportunity the conference is to learn about  Israel's  highly developed water market.

Israel has benefitted from several years of experience in managing scarce water resources, while the Israeli national industry is widely regarded as a nexus of world-class expertise in the water field.

Lazareck will again be returning to Israel in January 2012 with Jim Carr, President and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, which is planning a trip for business people at that time.

Melnick said that in furtherance of Manitoba’s partnership agreement signed last  October with the Society of the Protection of Nature in Israel [SPNI] in the areas of protection of wildlife and ecotourism , plans are in place for birding experts from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to have a joint tour in Canada in June 2012.
During the tour the nature officials will discuss their partnership on birding and protecting habitat, as a path for fostering co-operation, rather than conflict, in the Middle East. “The protection of wildlife transcends all borders,” Melnick said in an earlier statement.
Melnick added on election night  on October 4, that “The plans for the tour will go ahead full steam now that the election is over,” indicating that she is certain that Manitoba's special relatioship with Israel will continue to bloom.
In addition to acting as Manitoba's Special Representative to Israel, Lazareck will also be  continuing on in his role as  President of  JNF [ Manitoba and Saskatchewan region], and will be working closely with  JNF's new Executive Director, Rob Berkowits, who himself  will also be travelling to  Israel with the JNF in November.
Regarding Manitoba’s birding and guiding agreement with the SPNI, Melnick also noted that in June 2011, Nature Canada added its signature to the agreement.
According to Melnick, the three nature officials—Dr.Yossi Leshem of Israel, General (Ret) Mansour Abu Rashed of Jordan, and Imad Atrash of the Palestinian territories who will travel to Canada have been working cooperatively for years and presented a paper at the 25th Ornithological Congress in Brazil in August 2010, designed to promote the global protection of wildlife.
A cooperation booklet published by the three men entitled “Birds as Peacemakers in the Middle East” states that “Our goal has been to use birds as a platform to show that we can share one land and encourage positive interactions between the people and especially the students of the three nations.
“Our activities include over ten projects dealing with conservation, education, agriculture and flight safety that emphasize full cooperation at different levels between Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians. We are proud of our ever growing cooperation especially within the context of the ongoing conflict within our region. We believe that such civil society relationships hold the key to breaking the political impasse that has crippled the peace process.”
One joint project conducted by the three nature officials involved fitting 120 migrating white storks with satellite transmitters that could be tracked from Germany to the Middle East from Africa. This project had to overcome problems of co-ordination, and obtaining entry permits to Israel for the Palestinians, as well as other problems associated with the intifada.
As Leshem wrote to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, “The future vision of this partnership includes extending it to include, promoting ecotourism and bird-watching tourism, promoting research and activities with the environmentally friendly agricultural community, reducing the use of chemical pesticides, promoting the protection of important bird areas, promoting regional protection of endangered species, developing internet databases reporting on activities and their results,… continuing to broaden the partnership through the inclusion of like-minded individuals and achieving the designation of the Great Rift Valley as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
On election night last month, re-elected MLA Jim Rondeau, who has been Manitoba's Minister of Science, technology, energy and mines, and is now Minister of  Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors also re-affirmed the new government’s commitment to fostering its partnerships with Israel.
“We have worked together in the fields of medical research, water technology and agricultural research and high tech, and this will all continue. It is a partnership beneficial to both sides.”

Andrew Swan, re-elected NDP MLA for Minto, who will continue  on as Manitoba’s Minister of Justice told the Winnipeg Jewish Review “It’s clear where we [this government] stands on Israel.”

He also noted that as a result of a meeting he had with Jewish university students to address a variety of issues organized by Shelley Faintuch of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg last year, “I have been keeping in touch with some of the students on facebook.”

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.