In 2018, the Liberal government passed the “Election Modernization Act,” Bill C-76, enabling all Canadian citizens, regardless of whether they live outside the country as expats for any period of time, to vote in federal elections. However, many Canadians who live abroad remain either unaware of this right or are unfamiliar with the surprisingly simple process, leaving thousands of potential votes up for grabs by all parties.
For Canadian-Israelis, the September 20 Canadian election should be seen as an opportunity to affect change. Indeed, with many Canadians living in Israel coming from key Ontario ridings and beyond, it is possible that their few votes could impact the close race between the Liberals and Conservatives.
Beyond the simple mathematics and tactical aspects of what a Canadian vote coming from Israel might be worth for either party, Canadians living in Israel should take this election seriously, particularly in light of the Trudeau government’s actions and missteps vis-à-vis the Jewish community and the Jewish state in the past months and years.
For instance, in July, the Canadian government sponsored what was supposed to be an extremely important and timely event to gather political and community leaders to speak out and build a strategic partnership against the rising antisemitism in Canada. The event followed weeks of horrific protests and attacks on members of Canada’s Jewish community, from assaults in Toronto to rocks thrown in Montreal. Unfortunately, the event turned into a clear partisan political campaign move, with leading Jewish politicians from opposing parties – most notably the Green Party’s leader Annamie Paul – being left off the invitation list. The event also turned out not to be a standalone statement in the face of such hatred, but became part of a series of events which, while important, diminished the imperative to clearly condemn this particular hatred against this particular community.
Also in July, Canada’s Foreign Minister Marc Garneau traveled to Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank, then heading to the Ukraine. After visiting Jordan, the Government of Canada published a statement completely negating the rights of all religions, particularly Jews, to visit their holy sites, emphasizing “Canada’s recognition of Jordan’s custodianship over the Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem.” The subsequent statements published following his visit with the Palestinian Authority (PA) were similarly detached from reality, with the foreign minister blaming solely Israel for the lack of peace in the region and claiming the “continued expansion of settlements, demolitions and evictions constitute a serious obstacle to achieving peace and the need for these activities to cease.” The foreign minister gave no condemnation of the PA “pay for slay” policy that rewards and incentivizes Palestinian terrorists for murdering innocent Jewish civilians, no criticism of the PA law that proscribes the death penalty to those who sell land to Jews, nor was there any condemnation of the Palestinian education curriculum that includes incitement to violence and antisemitism. Further, despite this apparent moral compulsion to combat settlements, there was no mention of Russian settlements in the statements published following the foreign minister’s visit to the Ukraine.
The month prior, in June, Israel faced a barrage of over 2,000 rockets fired by Gazan terrorist groups that targeted Israeli civilians. Yet, in statement after statement the Government failed to overtly condemn Hamas and the other extremist terror groups in Gaza for this clear violation of international law. The statements, instead, one after another repeatedly sought to create moral equivalence between Canada’s ally and the only democracy in the Middle East and a terrorist organization listed and recognized as such by the Canadian government.
Unfortunately, this list of missteps by the Trudeau government that should be of the upmost importance to Canadians living in Israel goes on and on, making the imperative to vote in this election all the more pressing. Combatting extremism, furthering trade relationships with allies, and supporting minority and religious rights should be relevant to all Canadians. Registering to vote takes just a few minutes on the Elections Canada website. Like all Canadians, I hope that those living in Israel will make their voices heard.