A little over a month ago – at the conclusion of the most recent Canadian federal election – I posted an article expressing great disdain for the Jewish electorate in my hometown riding of Thornhill. I made no attempt to hide my affiliation with the Liberal Party and my disdain for the Conservatives. I did, however, lay out a relatively objective argument against the elections and the Conservatives’ tactics.
In my rants, I placed the blame squarely on my fellow Jews for electing in Peter Kent – the Conservative Candidate. Given that Thornhill is about 50% Jewish, and that Kent campaigned largely on a platform of “support” for Israel and “I’m not Susan Kadis” (herself a Jew!), it isn’t hard to see how the connection can be made. Also given that Thornhill has been solidly Liberal for all but 5 years of its lengthy history, there had to be an identifiable tipping point in the change. And I identified it as being among the Jewish electorate.
Apparently I struck a sour chord with some, as I was accused of being an offensive racist. As an ardent pluralist (and an ardent Jew!), I refuted these remarks, but basically, I let the issue slide. Clearly my argument was not meant to imply that there was some conspiracy among us Jews, rather it was a demographic observation (coupled with my admittedly Liberal philosophy) attempting to shed light on the matter of one-issue voting. Plus, I was angry – so I ramped up the rhetoric.
Well… Turns out Peter Kent is thanking the Jewish community by making one of his first public speaking appearances at a breakfast at the BAYT (the largest Orthodox shul in Canada, and a really nice community). In last week’s Jewish Tribune, the president of the BAYT’s brotherhood was quoted as saying:
“When I first heard Peter Kent speak to us at BAYT [Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation], I said to myself, here’s someone who understands the security challenges that Israel and the Western world are facing today and is willing to do something about it,”
This just reinforces my earlier point… it seems that by and large, the Canadian Jewish community is more concerned with one foreign policy issue than with Canadian domestic policy. As I iterated earlier, I have a great concern for this type of voting. Setting aside the fact that Canada has little to no role whatsoever in Israeli or Western security — these remarks illuminate the obsession amongst Canadian Jews with expecting the Canadian parliament to focus on one issue.
As a pluralist, I can entirely appreciate someone who aligns him or herself with Conservative values and believes in the Conservative Party’s overall agenda (something that was almost impossible to do this year given the CPC’s lack of a formally platform presented in time for Jews to vote). I would never assume to dictate what beliefs someone should uphold. But it seems that for much of the Canadian Jewish community, the qualification for getting elected is whether or not you say nice things about Israel.
There are moments when I’m actually thrilled to be living outside of Canada. This is one of them.