Skip to content

Harper’s trip to Israel, new FTA, part of 2015 election strategy

Campbell Clark, the Globe and Mail’s chief political writer, reports, “The Prime Minister is to travel to Israel this weekend with a delegation of more than 150, including a big chunk of his cabinet – not just Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, or the trade minister or international co-operation minister, but also Industry Minister James Moore, Energy Minister Joe Oliver and Employment Minister Jason Kenney.”

“On this trip, Mr. Harper is expected to formally announce negotiations to upgrade the free-trade agreement with Israel. (Talks are already under way.)”

The article adds, “Previous Canadian governments declared themselves friends of Israel, but tried to appear even-handed with Palestinians in UN votes, for example. Mr. Harper dumped that.” Rabbi Philip Scheim, of Toronto’s Beth David synagogue, says that ten years ago the Jewish community was largely identified with the Liberal Party. That has now shifted to the Conservatives. Clark writes, “The change in Jewish-community voting helps Conservatives in about 10 ridings where it is a significant part of the population, and helped elect Toronto MPs like Peter Kent, Joe Oliver, and Mark Adler.”

This is significant in terms of the Conservatives’ electoral calculus.

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson has commented, “At 40 per cent, the Conservatives would win again, likely with another majority; at 30 per cent, they would lose power. Their aim – and it will drive almost everything they do in the next two years – will be to recapture all or most of the difference. …Therefore, domestic and foreign policy will be bent with even more relentless direction and energy at hitting the issues to swing that 10 per cent back into the fold. …This micro-identification of departed or possible Conservative voters will be seen in foreign policy, as in more wooing of Jewish voters through blind support of every Israeli government position, helping Toronto’s Tamils recall the boycott of the Commonwealth Conference, reminding Filipinos about Ottawa’s efforts after Typhoon Haiyan.”

Further reading
Flooding in the Gaza Strip renews call for end to blockade
The Estelle boarded by the Israeli navy, former MP Jim Manly under arrest
London chapter activist beaten when arrested on Gaza-bound boat
Ban Ki-moon calls for international investigation of raid on Gaza-bound ships
Supreme Court of Israel rules on the right to water
Palestinians denied the right to water