Thursday, March 1, 2018

Conservative Party of Canada promises to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital--if they ever get back into power

This blogger has seen this before. During the 1979 Canadian federal election campaign, Progressive Conservative Party leader Joe Clark, Leader of the Opposition, promised, if his party formed the government, to move Canada's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was widely believed that Mr. Clark made that promise in order to boost the chances of PC candidate Ron Atkey in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's. If that was the idea, it worked; Mr. Atkey was elected, and the Progressive Conservatives won a plurality of seats in the House of Commons, ending 16 years of Liberal Party government, the last 11 years under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Clark became Prime Minister of a minority government, and Mr. Atkey was named Minister of Employment and Immigration. Mr. Clark failed to keep his promise, and within nine months, the government had fallen, and another election had resulted in Mr. Trudeau being returned to power with a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Mr. Atkey was among the PC MPs who lost their seats, and he never returned to active politics.

As reported by Stephanie Levitz of The Canadian Press, February 26, 2018:

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says if his party forms government in 2019, it will follow Donald Trump's lead and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Scheer's declaration comes in the form of a pledge posted to the Conservative party website designed to gather signatures from members of the public.

"Canada's Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital when we form government in 2019," the pledge says, describing the party as "a strong voice for Israel and the Canadian Jewish community."

It marks Scheer's first definitive statement on the issue since it became a renewed matter of public debate late last year.

That debate was prompted by the U.S. president's decision in December to not just recognize Jerusalem as the capital, but to promise to move the American embassy there as well.

It's a contentious move: while Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, so do the Palestinians and the status of the city is part of ongoing peace negotiations. The U.S. decision was seen as taking sides in the debate and upending years of American diplomacy.

In the aftermath of Trump's announcement, the federal Liberal government said the issue must be resolved through negotiation.

The pledge from Scheer sides squarely with Israel. "Canada's Conservatives recognize the obvious fact that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has a right to determine where its capital is located," it says.

It makes no mention, however, of whether or not a government led by the Conservatives would move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv. Jake Enwright, a spokesman for Scheer, said that would be discussed when the party forms government.

"We're focused on this policy and this recognition and we'll consider that at a later date," Enwright said.

In the aftermath of Trump's announcement, the Tories had found themselves scrambling to define their policy on Jerusalem, as neither Scheer nor the party had taken a public position on the issue. At the time, the party said it would discuss the issue as a caucus and make a decision.

That debate was settled weeks ago; earlier this month, foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole referred to the party's support for Jerusalem as the capital during a conservative conference in Ottawa.

The party's efforts to use the issue to recruit new supporters signals the latest Conservative effort to position the party as distinct from the governing Liberals by rolling out specific policy planks.

"If Canadians want a government who will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we want their support to recognize that," Enwright said.
I agree with Mr. Scheer's view on this issue, but I'm not holding my breath, as it will come as a great surprise to this blogger if the Conservatives will win the next federal election, scheduled for 2019. This blogger is not a supporter of any current Canadian party (or politician), so I have no partisan bias when I say that as things look now, the current evil regime will be in for life. Should the Conservatives somehow end up forming the next Canadian government, I hope they'll be courageous and smart enough to follow through on their commitment to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

See my posts U.S. President Donald Trump declares Jerusalem to be Israel's capital (December 7, 2017) and Guatemala follows U.S.A.'s lead in announcing that it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (December 25, 2017).

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