Jewish community looks forward to working with Trudeau

Following a divisive 78-day campaign – the longest in modern Canadian history – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau emerged as Canada’s 23rd prime minister, and Jewish community groups say they hope to establish a positive relationship with the new government.

Having won a majority government with 184 seats (the Conservatives winning 99 and the NDP garnering 44 seats), Trudeau, speaking at a victory rally in Montreal last night, promised to “be the prime minister of all Canadians.”

Jspace Canada, a “progressive pro-peace organization,” released a statement that said this election proved you “can’t stereotype or pigeonhole the Jewish community. The results in the five ridings with large numbers of Jewish voters showed that there is a return to the progressive orientation of Jews in Canada. In the 2011 election, 52 per cent of the Jewish community supported the Conservatives.  This time there was a definitive shift,” they said.

“Of course Israel remains a serious consideration for Jews in Canada; but as The CJN demonstrated in a pre-election article, the policies concerned with Israel and the Middle East are almost identical in all three major parties. However, only one party used Israel as a wedge issue, creating a rift in the community.

“This election has created somewhat of a dilemma for the organized Jewish community. Some groups have put all their political capital behind the Conservative party. Now they will have to figure out how to represent the diversity of Jewish opinion to the newly elected government.”

They said JSpaceCanada looks forward to working with the new government, and with all political parties, “to assist in the development of policies and practices conducive to peace and security for Israel, her citizens, residents and neighbours.”

David J. Cape, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), also thanked Harper for his leadership and support of Israel throughout his nine years in office, but congratulated Trudeau on his definitive win.

“We are grateful for the positions Mr. Trudeau and his party have taken on a number of issues, including support for hate crimes legislation; sanctions against Iran; a range of social justice challenges; and a close Canada-Israel relationship – to name only a few,” Cape said.

“We look forward to working with Prime Minister-elect Trudeau and his cabinet, along with the opposition parties, on the range of public policy issues of importance to the Jewish community and indeed all Canadians.”

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) president and CEO Avi Benlolo released a statement congratulating the 43-year-old prime minister on the win.

“FSWC looks forward to working with Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal party as we continue our efforts to promote tolerance education and eradicate hate and anti-Semitism in Canadian society,” Benlolo said.

“I am eager to speak with Mr. Trudeau and Liberal MPs in the coming months about how we can best work together to achieve these common goals,” he said, adding that he is grateful for outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “relentless effort over this past decade to combat anti-Semitism, promote Holocaust education and defend the State of Israel. We have every confidence that Mr. Trudeau will continue this important effort.”

Meryle Kates, the executive director of StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy group, said that although her organization is apolitical, she hopes for continued support for Israel from the Canadian government.

“We’ve enjoyed a very enviable relationship between Israel and our government leaders in Canada, and I would hope that that relationship will continue with the newly elected government.”