Canada Vows To Return to 'Honest Broker' Role on Israel

Canada’s just-elected Liberal government will stop making Israel a partisan issue, the country’s new foreign affairs minister said.

Stephane Dion, a former leader of the Liberal Party, said Canada can help Israel more by returning to its role as an “honest broker” and improving relations with other Middle East nations than continuing the staunchly pro-Israel policies of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Justin Trudeau defeated Harper in the Oct. 19 federal election.

“The main difference is that we will stop making it a partisan issue,” Dion told the news website in an interview published Wednesday. “Israel is a friend, it is an ally, but for us to be an effective ally, we need also to strengthen our relationship with the other legitimate partners in the region.

“For example, we need to strengthen our relationship with Lebanon, and this will help Lebanon but also Israel. To be helpful, you need to strengthen your relationship with the other legitimate partners, and that is what we will do.”

Dion, who spoke with the website following the swearing-in of Trudeau’s Cabinet, predicted that Israel will understand Canada strengthening its relationship with other Mideast countries. He said it has been Canada’s traditional role to be an “honest broker” on the world stage.

“I remember in the past, the minister of foreign affairs of Canada receiving a phone call from his counterpart in Israel, asking him to be in touch with a group in Lebanon that was legitimate but not willing to believe what the government of Israel was telling them,” he recalled. “He said to the minister of foreign affairs, ‘I think if it is coming from you, because you have strong links with them, it may help us.’

“I’m not sure today Canada is in a situation to do that anymore and I think we should, in order to help all our partners, including Israel.”

Prior to being sworn in, Trudeau reached out to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA, to reaffirm his support for Israel and his willingness to discuss broader social issues, the Canadian Jewish News reported. CIJA chair David Cape described the 10-minute phone call on Monday as “very warm and very friendly.”

“He reaffirmed his expectation for the government to work closely with the Jewish community and thanked us for all the work we had done,” Cape told the newspaper.

Trudeau said his government “would continue the tradition of multipartisan support for Israel,” Cape added, “but he said he specifically was hoping we could work together on a broader range of issues.”


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Canada Vows To Return to 'Honest Broker' Role on Israel

Thank you!

This article has been sent!