Antisemitism and Israel played a small role for a few Jewish voters in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre in the election, but most were interested in the issues of the community at large.
That’s the view of Liberal Jim Carr, who was re-elected in the riding with 22,214 votes to Conservative Joyce Bateman’s tally of 13,666. NDP candidate Julia Riddell finished with 10,064.
Carr heard those topics raised a few times on doorsteps and in phone calls, but otherwise members of the Jewish community were mainly interested in things like the pandemic, childcare, climate change, Indigenous reconciliation and gun control, he said.
He acknowledged his Conservative opponent tried to make it an issue, but he chose to take “the high road” when dealing with what he called her misinformation and exaggeration on his stances towards Israel and antisemitism.
He “felt obliged to correct” Bateman when she shared erroneous information about those things, he said, and was critical of what he considered her attempts to divide the Jewish community over them.
Beyond that, Carr declined to share more, saying “we counted the votes and we saw what the people had to say.”
He noted the Jewish community itself is not united on those issues, with some thinking the federal government isn’t hard enough on Israel over how it deals with the Palestinians.
“There is not one opinion or perspective” in the community, he said.
With regards to his Jewish faith, culture and identity, “who I am is moulded by that,” he said, noting it is one of the important ways he looks at issues and policies.
Growing up Jewish, attending synagogue and being a victim of antisemitism as a teen “are all influences that help shape how I see the world.”
This encourages him to look for ways to promote understanding between different groups, including being a member of a Jewish-Muslim caucus within the Liberal Party.
“We have dinner together from time to time and communicate with each other,” he said, adding the connections have caused them to “develop a great deal of affection for each other.”
Looking ahead, Carr hopes to collaborate with Members of Parliament from other parties as they seek to address issues facing Canadians. “We need to get back to work and work efficiently,” he said.
Carr was Minister of Natural Resources from 2015 to 2018, and Minister of International Trade Diversification from 2018 to 2019. He left cabinet in 2019 after being diagnosed with cancer just a day after the 2019 election. He was named Trudeau’s special representative to the Prairies in 2019 and returned to the cabinet as minister without portfolio earlier this year.
The other Jewish candidate in Winnipeg is incumbent Marty Morantz of the Conservative Party. As of Sept. 23, he led Liberal challenger Doug Eyolfson by 24 votes in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley.
If that small margin holds, it will automatically trigger a judicial recount, according to Elections Canada.
Morantz was first elected in 2019, defeating Eyolfson, who was the incumbent. Prior to that, Morantz served as a city councillor.
Bernie Bellan, editor of Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News, agrees that Israel and antisemitism did not play a role for Jewish voters.
He was surprised to hear some “antagonism” towards Carr on those issues, together with accusations he wasn’t pro-Israel enough.
But, he added, “I don’t think that mattered one whit to most Jewish voters. I can’t recall anyone speaking out on it.”
Bateman tried to make it a wedge issue, he noted, including in an email her campaign sent out to Jewish voters during the election.
He was also happy to note there were no reports of signs for either Carr or Morantz being defaced with antisemitic comments.
“That reflects well on Winnipeg,” he said.