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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Four ‘Jewish’ battleground ridings to watch

It’s no secret that Jewish voters have apparently shifted from being largely supportive of the Liberal party to heartily supporting the Conservatives in what seems like majority numbers, due largely to the party’s full-throated support for Israel under Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and to a much lesser degree its commitment to security for religious institutions).

Irwin Cotler

Outgoing Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler

An Ipsos Reid exit poll in 2011 found that 52 per cent of Jews voted Conservative (versus 24 per cent Liberal and 16 per cent NDP), and in a number of ridings with concentrations of Jewish voters, recent drops in Liberal support have been accompanied by increases in the Conservative vote.

Mount Royal: With the retirement of former Liberal justice minister Irwin Cotler, the Tories are gunning for a win here, after chipping away at Cotler’s margin of victory in the last few elections. The one-third-Jewish riding has been Liberal since 1940 and was once represented by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Two strong Jewish candidates, Côte-Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather and former English rights activist and provincial Equality Party leader Robert Libman, both won their nominations in hard-fought fights and have been ready to do battle for months. Continue reading

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Free advice for the federal Liberal party

Bob Rae at wRanter.com

Finally, he’s done trying to be leader.

Well, well, well: it appears that Bob Rae has decided not to run for the federal Liberal leadership after all, despite rampant speculation over the past year that he would if the party let him.

This has to be a relief for people who’d like to see Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative wrecking crew defeated sometime before, oh, 2028.

That was unlikely to happen with the Liberals being led by Rae. Obviously, he carried too much baggage from his polarizing time as the NDP premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995. As well, he turns 64 in August and would be 67 at the time of the next election.

Justin Trudeau at wRanter.com

Saviour, pretty boy, both or neither?

These facts hardly scream “renewal” to a party sorely in need of just that.

The temptation for the party will be to go for what might appear to be the quick fix, namely choosing 40-year-old Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre and MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau, as its next leader.

That may or may not be a great idea.

At the very least, party members should take a collective deep breath, have a good debate about who they intend to choose and – above all – avoid handing the reins to Trudeau in a coronation, because we all know how that turned out with the last guy. Continue reading

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