Canada’s pro-Israel prime minister loses election

As Israel waits to see what the Canadian election means for its relations with the country, it must say good-bye to staunch Israel supporter, Stephen Harper.

By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News

Trudeau defeated Harper

New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Alex Guibord/Flickr)

Israel must bid farewell to Canada’s outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one of the country’s most constant allies in the international arena. The new premier, Justin Trudeau, is unlikely to substantively change Canadian policy vis-a-vis Israel, though he is close to some harsh critics of Israel.

The elections were unusually contentious for Canadian Jewry. Although Canadian Jews have traditionally supported the Liberal Party, Harper’s staunch support of Israel brought many of them into the Conservative Party’s fold. Harper was openly skeptical of the Iran nuclear deal, questioning whether Iran would actually adhere to the terms of the agreement. In contrast to US leaders, he has remained mum on the settlement issue.

At the same time, Canadians are disappointed by the Conservatives’ failure to bring about economic improvement.

The Liberal Party’s Trudeau is also friendly towards Israel, though perhaps not to the same extent as his predecessor. He has openly stated that the BDS Movement is a form of anti-Semitism, and rejects unilateral moves by the Palestinian Authority. His support for the Iran nuclear deal is tempered by the recognition that Iran must be closely monitored.

Trudeau’s circle includes both friends and enemies of Israel. His brother, Alexandre, who advised his political campaigns, previously worked as a journalist in Gaza. His foreign policy team includes Ambassador Michael Bell, who has criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for opposing the Iran nuclear deal. However, Trudeau is specifically being advised on Israel by Canada’s former justice minister and pro-Israel activist Irwin Cotler.

The Liberal Party received 39.5% of the popular vote; the Conservative Party, 31.9%; and the NDP, 19.7%.