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
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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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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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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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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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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It’s time to mend fences in the Jewish community

Mark Adler at wRanter.com

Mark Adler’s Toronto campaign office

When we sat down in early summer to discuss how we’d cover what was expected to be a five-week fall campaign, CJN editor Yoni Goldstein asked me to write a weekly column about election topics of Jewish interest. The idea – a departure from past practice of mostly limiting ourselves to rather pedestrian riding profiles – made me a bit nervous.

To echo a current catchphrase, I felt like I was just not ready.

My main concern was finding material to write about, since Jews and Jewish issues had never figured very prominently in a federal election before, even in 2011, when exit polls suggested that for the first time, a majority of Jews had voted Conservative, largely on the strength of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s vocal support for Israel.

But after the longest campaign in modern Canadian history, I can declare that my anxiety was definitely misplaced. Jews and Jewish issues have been more conspicuous in this election than in any campaign in living memory. Jews were news, as they say. Continue reading


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Gaffes and ‘anti-Semitism’ on the campaign trail

In the Sept. 17 Globe and Mail leaders’ debate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made reference to “old-stock Canadians” in defending his government’s policy on health care for refugees and immigrants, saying it had only denied care to bogus claimants.

Stephen Harper at wRanter.com

Stephen Harper

“We do not offer them a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive,” Harper said. “I think that’s something that both new and existing and old-stock Canadians can agree with.”

Critics pounced, calling it either a lapse that showed Harper’s true racist colours or a deliberate, coded dog whistle to his intolerant party core.

But if you watched the debate, it was clear Harper was searching for a way to express how both new and old Canadians might agree with his policy. By the next day, he clarified that the phrase referred to “Canadians who have been the descendants of immigrants for one or more generations.” 

Under that definition, with four European-born grandparents, I and many other Jews qualify. As such, Walrus editor Jonathan Kay was right to say the comment was no big deal. Continue reading


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Can we talk politics without lashon hara?

The Chofetz Chaim

Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan

Over the course of the election campaign to this point, the Jewish community has seen repeated and sometimes flagrant violations of halachic and ethical prohibitions against lashon hara – wicked speech – and some of the 31 transgressions related to it, such as unnecessarily engendering controversy and division.

But although negative politicking has become more common in Canada – though perhaps not to the same debased degree as in the United States – it’s worth asking whether it’s even possible for political speech to conform to Jewish law regarding lashon hara?

Moreover, is it possible to engage in any journalism or political discourse at all in a way that doesn’t contravene this restrictive halachic precept?

In a nutshell, the laws of lashon hara, as laid out by Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, a.k.a. the Chofetz Chaim (1839-1933), the recognized authority on the subject, refer to speaking disparagingly of another person, even if the information is true. 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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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, we look at Jews running for all four major parties across the country.

Mira Oreck

Mira Oreck is running for the NDP in Vancouver

Jews have served in the House of Commons almost continuously since Harry Nathan Jr., British Columbia’s first MP, represented Victoria from 1871 to 1874.

For decades, Jews have run federally across the political spectrum, and with Jewish Canadians comprising about one per cent of the population nationally, the community certainly punches above its weight when it comes to prominent participation in electoral politics.

Think former Liberal cabinet ministers Robert Kaplan, Irwin Cotler, Barney Danson, Herb Gray and Elinor Caplan. Think David Lewis, the second national leader of the NDP. And think Mulroney-era cabinet minister Gerry Weiner and current Tory MP Joe Oliver, Canada’s first Jewish finance minister.

Who might be the next big-name Jewish MP? Let’s take a look. Continue reading


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