I’m an Orthodox Rabbi, I voted Conservative, and I’m happy that Justin Trudeau is our new Prime Minister.
Since the election on Monday night I have heard many panicked comments from Conservative members of the Jewish community describing the evil and destruction that Justin Trudeau is about to inflict on Canada, on Israel, and on the Canadian Jewish community. Much of this rhetoric reminds me of the exaggerations and vilifications that were made about Stephen Harper in the final weeks of the campaign by left-wing voters, so much of which was inaccurate and unfounded. In both cases fear-mongering and exaggerations are, in my opinion, unwelcome elements of the Jewish Canadian political dialogue.
So, if I voted Conservative, why am I happy with our new Prime Minister? Here are four reasons why I am confident in Justin Trudeau’s leadership, despite the concerns over his support of Israel:
- He has a fantastic team of advisors and staff (many of whom are Jewish) who understand that the Jewish community reflects the very best of Canada (innovation, hard work, commitment to social justice) and who understand the profound shared values between Canada and Israel.
- He has a number of MPs in his caucus who are proudly Jewish and supportive of Israel.
- The Liberal party has only been supportive of Israel in the past and has not yet done or said anything to indicate a weakening of that support. Justin Trudeau himself has spoken repeatedly in support of Israel and against the BDS movement.
- The Canadian Jewish community has a strong voice in Canadian politics and, if we use our voice constructively, we can encourage political support for the causes we hold dear. But if we slander our new Prime Minister there is a risk that he will be less inclined to support our causes, which could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I would prefer to embrace our new leader, build up the trust and respect between Trudeau and the Jewish community, and use that trust and respect as a means of having our voices heard and supported by our new federal government.
Stephen Harper served as our Prime Minister with great distinction, courage, and wisdom, and I would have liked to see him continue in that post. But just because the name of our new Prime Minister isn’t Harper doesn’t mean that Canadian Jewry is entering into an era of darkness and despair. We have a new leader in Justin Trudeau who has expressed his unwavering support of Israel time and again, and whose staff, advisors, and caucus members are attuned to the needs and interests of the Jewish community. Let’s embrace this new leader, let’s appreciate the stance he has taken in support of Israel, and let’s continue to strengthen the relationship between Canadian Jewry and the Prime Minister of Canada.