wRanter.com

Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, left-leaning, Canadian, pro-Israel, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.

wRanter.com - Gentle and not-so-gentle thoughts and musings from a Jewish, left-leaning, Canadian, pro-Israel, inner-suburban, fortysomething, libertarian, recovering perfectionist, quasi-socialist husband, dad, basketball fan, writer and editor with a few opinions.
Featured wRants

Who will be the next big-name Jewish MP?

Last week, we examined four “Jewish” battleground ridings, including two – York Centre in Toronto and Mount Royal in Montreal – where, one way or another, a Jewish candidate is likely to win. This week, ...

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau

Israel shouldn't be a political football or litmus test

Despite public and private appeals to call off the event, the Jewish Defence League (JDL) went ahead with its unfortunate decision to picket a Liberal fundraiser at the Toronto home of pharmaceutical magnate and Jewish ...

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Thursday the rabbi walked out, or was he pushed?

Being a pulpit rabbi can be a cutthroat business

When Toronto Jews awoke last Saturday morning and collected their Globe and Mail newspapers from their doorsteps (those who still subscribe, that is), they discovered a front-page story detailing how Holy Blossom Temple, the city's ...

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The next occupants of 24 Sussex?

Why Thomas Mulcair gets it when it comes to Israel

Not surprisingly, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership last month, replacing Saint Jack Layton as the man social democrats hope can rally left-of-centre voters to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Here's hoping he's successful, but ...

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Being mislabelled by educators can make school a misery.

Your December-born kid may not have ADHD. He might just be immature.

A new Canadian study is bolstering an argument I've been making to my kids' teachers and principals for years: children born later in a calendar year are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit ...

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He was burned by this very issue.

The Jewish community should fund its own schools

The fallout from the recent controversy over the creation of gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs) in Ontario's publicly funded Catholic school system should give pause to those seeking funding – in the name of fairness – ...

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Jewish issues at centre of partisan sniping

Jewish issues and candidates made headlines last week and became the subject of some distasteful political rhetoric on the campaign trail. In Alberta, a 21-year-old hijab-wearing university student resigned Aug. 18 as the Liberal candidate in ...

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What does the Liberal win mean for Jewish groups?

Anthony Housefather at wRanter.com

Anthony Housefather

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?

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Cultural and religious issues dominate as election day nears

Thank God for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I say that not because trade is an inherently Jewish issue, nor because I know for certain the recently negotiated deal will be good for Canada, especially since its details have yet to be released.

Zunera Ishaq, CBC screenshot

Zunera Ishaq’s niqab has helped Harper

Irrespective of its long-term effects, the TPP might be our only hope to reorient electoral discussions toward an issue – the economy – that actually affects the well-being of large numbers of Canadians.

If so, it will offer a change from the debates that have dominated the campaign for the last month or so.

Barely seven weeks ago, news photos of little Alan Kurdi’s dead body provoked a (perhaps overdue) groundswell of concern for the four million refugees created by Syria’s brutal civil war. The sudden surge of interest blindsided the governing Conservatives, whose reaction was seen in many quarters as hard-hearted.

It seemed the issue might sink the Tories, especially in the wake of shaky economic numbers (which have since improved), as well as scandals and polls suggesting an appetite for change.

But they’ve since regained their footing. In addition to standing firm on the refugee file, they’ve connected with large numbers of Canadians on the issues of revoking the naturalized citizenship of convicted terrorists; wearing a niqab at citizenship swearing-in ceremonies and a proposed ban on them in the public service; and a pledge to set up a phone line for people to report “barbaric cultural practices.” Continue reading


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Munk Debate glosses over Israel – is that a good thing?

Rudyard Griffiths at the Munk Debate

Moderator Rudyard Griffiths

Is that all there was? Given how much praise – and criticism – the Harper government’s strong support for Israel has attracted, it’s somewhat surprising that so little was said about the Jewish state in the Sept. 28 Munk Debate on foreign policy in Toronto.

The night’s only exchange on Israel, between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, came more than halfway through the proceedings, when Harper raised the topic, ostensibly in response to comments by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair about working with allies on issues of global concern, such as Iran.

“I fully admit that we don’t always take the position of our allies. Sometimes we take our positions based on what we believe are principles,” Harper said.

“Let me give you a clear example. This government has been perhaps the most unequivocal in the world on the fact that when it comes to the Middle East, we are not going to single out Israel. It is the one western democratic ally. Threats that are… directed at that state – [it’s] on the front line of threats directed against us. We are not going to single out the Jewish state for attack and criticism. We recognize unequivocally the right of Israel to be a Jewish state and to defend itself.” Continue reading


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Israel shouldn’t be a political football or litmus test

Despite public and private appeals to call off the event, the Jewish Defence League (JDL) went ahead with its unfortunate decision to picket a Liberal fundraiser at the Toronto home of pharmaceutical magnate and Jewish philanthropist Barry Sherman.

Meir Weinstein

JDL head Meir Weinstein

Before the Aug. 26 protest, Sherman was viciously attacked on social media, with trolls questioning his motives and suggesting he was furthering his business interests by buying access to power.

Mercifully, the demonstration only attracted about 30 protesters. They called Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a traitor for supporting the nuclear deal with Iran, which they likened to the Munich Agreement between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain, a classic case of appeasement.

“It is absolutely wrong for a leading philanthropist in the Jewish community to support a man that would support the regime of Iran,” the JDL wrote on its website, a reference to Trudeau’s support for re-opening Canada’s embassy in Tehran.

Fortunately, other Jewish leaders strongly denounced the decision to hold a political protest outside the private home of a fellow Jew. Continue reading


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Jewish issues at centre of partisan sniping

Jewish issues and candidates made headlines last week and became the subject of some distasteful political rhetoric on the campaign trail.

York Centre Tory MP Mark Adler

Mark Adler

In Alberta, a 21-year-old hijab-wearing university student resigned Aug. 18 as the Liberal candidate in the Tory stronghold of Calgary Nose Hill a day after conservative activists publicized noxious tweets from her past.

Ala Buzreba apologized for the posts, including one from 2011 in which she told a supporter of Israel his mother should have aborted him with a coat hanger. She said she made the comments “a long time ago, as a teenager, but that is no excuse.”

One wonders how her party managed to miss Buzreba’s outbursts when it vetted her candidacy, but more troubling was Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s initial response to them. Instead of simply condemning her remarks, he initially defended Buzreba. “Ala has unreservedly apologized for her comments, and I think it’s important to point out that she was a teenager and that we all make mistakes,” he said.

Meanwhile, York Centre Conservative MP Mark Adler became mired in a controversy that began when Walrus editor Jonathan Kay tweeted a picture of a 20-foot-high campaign poster outside Adler’s re-election office that noted Adler is the son of a Holocaust survivor.

The Twittersphere quickly erupted in righteous indignation, and by the next day, Adler was being widely accused of exploiting the Shoah for political gain.  Continue reading


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