As I write, on August 28, we’re already about four weeks into the campaign for the October 19 federal election with another seven weeks still to go – the longest federal election campaign since 1872, which was long before the days of the quick radio and TV coverage that developed in the 20th century or the more recent development of 24-hour news channels and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Seven weeks out from election day, the latest polls indicate this may be the tightest three-way race ever with the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper, the New Democratic Party (NDP) under Tom Mulcair and the Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau all in real competition – not just to form the government, but also for second place official opposition status. The NDP has led by a small margin in most of the polls to date, and, if it ultimately comes out on top, it will be the party’s first time in power after sitting as the official opposition for the first time ever after the last election in 2011.
Much has been made over the years since Harper first became prime minister in 2006 of Canada’s very real friendship with Israel. And, while there is no question that the Canada-Israel relationship has only strengthened in recent years, it was a process that began under previous Liberal governments.
It should also be pointed out that Harper has not changed Canada’s official policy in regard to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Canada does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank or east Jerusalem and supports a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict. There is virtually no difference in the positions of all three leading parties and all three potential prime ministers on this issue.
I bring this up because I’ve encountered a few people in the community who say that Harper’s Conservatives are the only possible choice for Jews in this election because of their support for Israel.
But no party or leader is running on a single issue, and I don’t believe that voters – or a community of voters – should cast their vote based on a single issue. And I know that the other parties and leaders are also sincerely supportive of Israel. So I have no doubt that Israel’s friendship with Canada is secure and will endure no matter which party and leader forms the government after October 19.
The Communications and Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa is planning roundtable discussions in the coming days with Ottawa-area candidates from each of the main parties (including the Green Party) on issues of specific concern to the Jewish community. We’ll be reporting on these meetings in the September 21 issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin and online as soon as possible at www.ottawajewishbulletin.com.
And beyond issues of specific concern to the Jewish community, there are many other issues of concern to all Canadians. I urge everyone to follow the election campaign, both at the national level and in your particular riding, know where each of the parties stands on all issues that concern you, and cast your vote for the candidate from whichever party best represents the sum of your views and values.
Happy New Year
On behalf of the staff of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin – Brenda, Barry, Hannah and myself – I wish everyone a happy, sweet and peaceful New Year. Shana Tova.