Doorstep Postings: Divestments and derangements abound as Israel at war remained a trending topic in Ottawa throughout January 2024

Justin Trudeau greets Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of the Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto while Rabbi Sam Taylor of Shaarei Shomayim looks on during an off-the-record community meeting at Beth Tzedec Congregation on Jan. 10, 2024. (Credit: @JustinTrudeau)

This is a special edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

Justin Trudeau, to his credit, has done a seemingly impossible thing and united Israel’s allies and its enemies on a crucial point. Both sides absolutely can’t stand him! 

Could this prime minister actually bring about peace in our time without meaning to? We’ll have months—if not a full year and then some–for Israel supporters and haters to commiserate over their opposition to this government.

This week’s attempt to split the difference was the Liberals cutting funding to the UN Relief Workers Agency, as evidence emerged that tied that body to the attacks of Oct. 7.

There I was, all ready to write a column praising the Trudeau government for trying to do the right thing–when all of a sudden it emerged that the funding hadn’t actually been cut and might not be until next quarter. 

And once again I was forced to ponder one of the eternal questions of Canadian politics: incompetence or malice? Were the Liberals so quick to follow along with the other nations announcing that funding was being cut that they didn’t notice that they missed the deadline, or were they hoping that this mess in the Middle East would die down by then and nobody would notice? 

Of course we’ll never know one way or another, because that’s how this country works—but don’t despair quite yet.

If you believe the people who are paid to try and make sense of Ottawa goings-on, the current explanation is that the Liberals might pull the plug in the middle of the U.S. election later this year. Then, and only then, will we be permitted to despair, when we’re too busy drowning in apocalyptic coverage about how Trump’s return marks the end of life as we know it to get mad about whatever the Liberals will be screwing up. And—so goes the Liberal strategy—since Canadians are so reflexively anti-Trump, they will stampede to the booths to vote against Pierre Poilievre.

Picture it: the prime minister, ready to return to the head of government and having to open negotiations with the POTUS he just spent a whole campaign running against! 

Ah, but now we come to the real reason why the Trudeau government’s failure to properly manage interests won’t lead to peace in our time between frustrated pro- and anti-Israel folks. While the Jewish community must still go through with the Liberals’ calculated attempts to shore up votes—since we cannot afford to alienate even a nominal ally–the other side has signalled that they are walking away from the table entirely.

You might be surprised to learn that this divestment from the Democratic Party has been taking place stateside for weeks, to the confusion of American political insiders who have been fruitlessly pounding the Dangerous Donald alarm, louder than any Canadian could.   

Just imagine being able to say to Joe Biden (and Justin Trudeau): “Thanks for the memories, but you need us more than we need you!” Now after you have made peace with that concept (one that is utterly unfamiliar to the Jewish community), consider that to the anti-Israel folks, the Democrats, and the Liberals, are just names on a list of groups that need to go because they are too supportive of… well, the International Court of Justice didn’t call it a genocide outright, but who cares what they think. 

The list includes Disney, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Netflix, Indigo, and even individual actors like Timothee Chalamet and Kylie Jenner. (In case you’re wondering, he made a joke on Saturday Night Live about being part of a band called Hamas, and she happens to be his girlfriend, so to the Hague with both of them.) China, Iran, South Africa and the Houthis are moral exemplars by contrast.

Trump and Poilievre ushering in an era of darkness is good for them even if, by your reckoning, it is bad for Canada and the U.S. because (whispers) they don’t like Canada and the U.S. very much.

It wasn’t always this way. Time was, the Liberals were the ones who led the raised the temperature. A Trudeau government failing was an opportunity for all of us to learn. Opinion writers making the government’s case would be standing by, ready to do their part. Disputes between communities would be smoothed over with photo ops or appointing senators. Their critics were peddling disinformation, MAGA North, violence normalizers, extremists. And those critics in the opposition parties would weakly deny those charges in an attempt to capture mainstream votes—and lose anyway. 

But the Liberals eventually found their boiling point. They weren’t willing to keep taking it farther and farther while those critics decided they would regardless of the consequences.  And that is why they are in their current predicament. In a way, they have been right all along: their problem is a communications problem. They can’t communicate effectively because they are broken, and if they also believe that what’s good for the Liberals is always what’s good for Canada, then it follows logically that if they are broken, so is Canada! 

I guess all that’s left for these radicals to worry about is whether Trump 2.0 or PM Poilievre would be worse for them and for the centrist normies. It’d certainly suck for them if that was the case!

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.