Under Tories, Canada a loyal ally to Jewish state
Canadians of many political inclinations often express concern at election time that foreign policy is not prominent enough at election time.
This election, it has taken turns at centre stage. But in many ridings, such as Ken Dryden's riding of York Centre, foreign policy -- particularly pertaining to Israel -- is rarely far from the forefront.
In Toronto-area riding York Centre, the Liberal vote has largely been about two groups: the Italian vote and the Jewish vote.
"The biggest change that's happened is that at one time, there were two very strong Liberal supporting communities in this riding, one was the Italian community and the other was the Jewish community," Dryden remarked. "The Italian community is still strong for the most part in supporting the Liberals and the Jewish community, many of them have shifted and are supporting the Conservatives."
As noted here previously, some of that shift can be attributed to dirty campaigning by the Conservatives. There's no reason whatsoever to write the Tories a free pass for it.
But some of that shift can be attributed to the fact that the Conservatives are earning that support by virtue of strong policy on Israel.
The fact that the Conservative Party policy on Israel -- namely, that Canada will support its allies instead of remaining silent when it matters -- appeals to the people who understand best precisely how important Israel is.
This isn't to say that the Liberal Party has, by any means, entirely derelicted the Israel issue. It was a Liberal Party government that outlawed Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations in Canada. That clearly counts.
But so does moral support when Israel acts to defend itself. This is something the Liberals proved far less willing to provide. For example, in 2006, after Israel had moved to protect itself from attacks by Hezbollah, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff accused Israel of "war crimes". He later apologized for the remark. Two years later.
By the same mark, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared Israel's response to be "a measured response". Which, regardless of the outrage of the far-left, it was.
In 2006, Israel was actually discharging its responsibilities under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which basically states that the sovereignty of states is dependent on the government acting to protect its citizens, and respect their human rights.
Simply put, if Israel had not acted to curtail Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli civilians, the international community would have been responsible to do it. Unfortuantely, the international community would have been unlikely to act discharge that responsibility.
With Dryden facing the most difficult election of his political career, he may be reaping the whirlwind of Ignatieff's failure to act as a strong ally of Israel. Conservative candidate Mark Adler may be reaping the benefits of Harper's support.
"When I go door to door in the Jewish area, people are totally aware of the Harper record on Israel and the previous Liberal administration's record on Israel," Adler said. "The Jewish community is aware of Michael Ignatieff's comments with respect to Israel, claiming that Israel has committed war crimes in Lebanon."
There is, by no means, any guarantee that the Israel issue will carry the riding in York-Centre, or anywhere else. But the Tory shift in support in the Jewish community has been hard-fought, and (mostly) well-earned.