The longest election campaign in modern Canadian history delivered more than a surprise Liberal majority – it yielded six new Jewish MPs for the winning party: Michael Levitt in Toronto’s York Centre; Anthony Housefather in Mount Royal, and Jim Carr in Winnipeg South Centre – all ridings with large Jewish populations – as well as Julie Dabrusin in Toronto-Danforth, Karina Gould in Burlington, Ont., and David Graham in Quebec’s Laurentides–Labelle riding.
The election also saw the defeat of Stephen Harper, Canada’s most vocally pro-Israel prime minister ever, as well as a loss by Joe Oliver, Canada’s first Jewish finance minister, and the retirement of respected Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.
The campaign was perhaps the most divisive one ever for the Jewish community. Reminiscent of the U.S. right’s disdain for President Barack Obama, some of Harper’s Jewish supporters were especially vocal – both on social media and in more traditional channels – in wildly accusing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of, in effect, being a front for radical Islam.
By the end, there was pushback from a number of Jewish commentators, who noted that all three major parties voiced strong support for Israel and condemned the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Did this motivate some Jewish voters to shift allegiances back to the Liberals, the community’s historical home, after exit polls registered 52 per cent support among Jews for the Tories in 2011?