Mount-Royal, once considered one of the safest Liberal seats since 1940. A riding once held by Pierre-Elliot Trudeau. Now, incumbent Irwin Cotler, while still popular and respected, has seen his vote counts decline steadily over past elections. The Harpercons have been doing their worst to put some of the final nails in the Liberal coffin in this riding. Mount-Royal home to many different ethnic groups, including a large Filippino community, who, by the way, seem to be left out of this campaign. Also home to one of Montreal’s largest Jewish communities. Yes, Jason Kenney had been targetting this riding to get out the multi-ethnic vote here, but in addition, this is also a riding where those nasty 10 percenters, depicting the Liberal party as Anti-Semitic and ‘soft on terrorism’ (click here if anyone really needs a visual of those nasty fliers) were circulated to most Jewish households before they were banned in parliament. Ten percenters that deeply offended Cotler–I seem to remember Harpercon cheerleaders back then referring to Cotler as “a Jewish uncle Tom”.
I honestly thought the matter had been put to rest since. Iggy had been staunchly supporting Israel as much Stevie Spiteful as well as the NDP (Tom Mulcair) have. Iggy too has denounced Anti-Semitism and such things as Israeli Apartheid. I would be proven wrong as recently as last February–about a month before the writ was dropped.
The Con riding association in Mount-Royal believed that now the time was ripe for the riding to go Tory again (should say ReformaTory now). Much of the Jewish community was fired up with more than glowing reviews for Stevie’s ‘loyalty’ to Israel-right or wrong. All they (Con riding association) needed was a star candidate to potentially topple the veteran MP Irwin Cotler.
For awhile, up until nearly the last minute, Robert Libman, architect, former mayor of Cote-St-Luc, founder of the now defunct provincial Equality Party was being heavily courted by the Harpercons. While he was “tempted”, he ultimately decided he was “happy working as an architect again”.
As many know, former popular municipal councillor from the area, Saulie Zajdel, an Orthodox Jewish version of John Baird, ended up with the Harpercon nomination to go head to head with Irwin Cotler.
Just to make it a three way race, another prominent Jewish Anglophone runs for the NDP in the area: Jeff Itcush, a teacher at a local Jewish high school.
Let the games begin.
Before I go on, Mount-Royal isn’t the only riding that was peppered with those scuzzy ten percenters or where a large Jewish demographic hasn’t been targetted by the Harpercons in some shape or form. Ridings like Toronto’s Eglinton-Lawrence and York-Center.
In fact, what really wasn’t helpful to the Liberals’ cause was the defection of some prominent Canadian Jewish celebs and business folks to the Harpercons. One such celeb, Robert Lantos, gives a particularly disturbing reason and talk about a warped priority to say the least:
“We are fortunate to live in a country whose Prime Minister is Israel’s closest friend,” Mr. Lantos said. “That outweighs all other considerations from my point of view – and should for all Jews.”
Wow! Nevermind that Lantos’ good friend Stevie cut funding to arts and culture, and yes, Bob, that means film makers too. Granted, Mr. Lantos has made his money and like many, perhaps he doesn’t show much solidarity with other rookie and/or struggling film makers trying to make a name for themselves. Then again, even if Mr. Lantos were a struggling indy film maker, would he be more angry at Steve for the cuts? Would that offset Steve’s loyalty for Israel? Probably not.
Even more disturbing, this whole ‘whose more loyal to Israel right or wrong’ has superceded issues like the economy, health care, pensions and the like. These people live, work, pay taxes in, have to rely on the health care system in, and need to rely on pensions here in Canada, not Israel. I know I’ve been troubled observing this since I went to an Irwin Cotler town hall weeks before the writ was even dropped. I have to wonder if the opposition incumbents or candidates in other targetted ridings like Eglinton-Lawrence and York-Center with large Jewish communities are facing these challenges Mr. Cotler is?
What has Mr. Lantos as well as many Jews pissed, what Iggy said to Radio Canada in 2006, when he was still a leadership hopeful before losing to Stephane Dion, was when he called the Israeli bombing of a Lebanese village a ‘war crime’. Iggy, of course, would end up having to retract that statement, but it obviously hasn’t made much difference in many minds of Jewish voters; they don’t trust Iggy to be loyal enough to Israel. It was clear on that fateful day of that town hall I attended, watching and listening to people ask questions and/or make comments to Mr. Cotler, that most of those Jews have not forgiven Iggy. Funny how Bevie Oda is forgiven for doctoring documents, as well as Stevie Spiteful and the rest of his flunkies; current and past, are so easily forgiven, but not Iggy for actually speaking his mind in 2006.
What particularly stuck in my head from that town hall was that it was obvious from Cotler’s body language, facial expressions and tone from the Q & A portion of the festivities, was that he wanted to talk about other subjects than Israel or the Middle-East. Not avoid it, just not continue to repeat himself as there were other issues on the table at risk of being neglected. He wanted to talk about the other constituents and their issues, health care, seniors and violence against women. Most who were in attendance, however, were Jewish; many of whom Orthodox. In fact, I never forgot how happy he appeared when someone would have something completely different to ask or comment about. Yep, troubling indeed.
After the writ was dropped, future events I would attend in Mount-Royal as well as information being given to me from friends in the riding would prove the campaign to get a whole lot more vicious, to say the least.
Even a veteran like Cotler must be finding this type of campaigning difficult. How do you pander to the Jewish community and sooth their fears without foresaking the rest of the constituency? He’s walking a very tight rope indeed.
Mr. Cotler would like to focus on issues he thinks are of concern to all his voters – like health and senior care – and issues close to his heart like Darfur, hate speech and violence against women. But he bemoans the fact that the Tories have caught him in a “pincer movement” where he has to devote a lot of time convincing his Jewish voters he cares for them without letting other voters feel that’s all he cares about.
NDP’s Jeff Itcush would attempt to play the idealist.
He said the Tory strategy also raised hackles among some Jews who bristle at any notion of “single-issue” politics. “There are some people who are saying we want to make certain that the Conservative Party does not use Israel to simply divide the community,” he said.
I’m sure Mr. Itcush is correct, but why aren’t they showing up to the town halls? Why don’t they speak out? Or is Mr. Itcush wrong?
Cotler, like other Liberal and NDP candidates across Canada, has had his signs vandalized, some with Hitler moustaches drawn on Cotler’s picture. Reportedly, those banned sleazy slanderous ten percenters depicting the Liberals as Anti-Semitic and “soft on terrorism” have been circulating again this election campaign. Have they reared their ugly heads in ridings like Eglinton-Lawr
The All Candidates Debate in Mount Royal
Well, boys ‘n’ girls, here’s the big news, Harpercon candidate Saulie Zajdel actually showed up! Really, he deserves points for that. Hell, he had laryngitis to boot!
In addition to Saulie Zajdel, Irwin Cotler and Jeff Itcush, Green candidate, Brian Sarwer-Foner was also at the festivities.
Saulie, in addition to laryngitis, the microphones really sucked! So, it was hard to understand everything he said word for word. Good. He’s so obnoxious, maybe he needs to be lower profile.
The moderators were Cote-St-Luc mayor, Anthony Housefather and the editor of The Suburban, that wretched, insufferable Beryl Wajsman (but wasn’t he actually one of those pinched in ADSCAM? If so, funny how Harpercons hold a long grudge about the scandal, yet welcome one who may have been actually implicated in it into their bosom); yes, he of the fellatio fest known as the Stevie endorsement earlier this week (sorry, after reading that endorsement, there is no other way to be than crass about it).
Jeff Itcush of the NDP, would learn a very hard lesson at the all-candidates debate held last night–at a Cote-St-Luc synagogue, no less. He clearly was out of his element, not knowing his audience. If Tom Mulcair were debating in his place, I suspect it would’ve been more competitive. Man, did I feel badly for Itcush! He held his own, but needs to learn a lesson in pandering. The room was clearly Jewish and Conservative and many of whom, hostile. When he said that he supported both a Palestinian and Israeli state, he got booed mercilessly. The loudest, coming from a yarmulke sporting man in his 60s a few rows in front of me. If I had something that could potentially be airborn in my purse, I would’ve thrown something at him! Yep, stay classy there, chappy!
Itcush would also mention abortion rights twice. Something important to me, but the room was clearly a fetus fetish fest. Oops! They behaved, but I could easily feel the room temperature drop a few degrees.
Brian Sarwer-Foner, not a contender, spoke well. He brought up environmental concerns as a good Green party member should. Oh, and by the by, guess who else isn’t in favour of the long form census? That’s right, Mr. Sarwer-Foner of the Green Party. Not sure if that’s the stand of Dizzy Miss Lizzy and the rest of ‘em, but he got a kudos from Saulie Zajdel.
Back to the most heated portion of the debate-Foreign Policy, which turned ultimately into “Who’s most loyal to Israel?” Who’s the best leader for Israel? As someone pointed out to me, this may have well been a debate between Likud, the Israeli Labour Party and whatever equivalent to the Liberals in Israel.
While Zajdel chided, Cotler would successfully refute him, often with zingers. In fact, at one segment, Zajdel appeared to want Cotler to speak first. Of course he did! If Zajdel speaks after him, he wins the argument!
They each had one minute for closing remarks at the end of it all. Zajdel, like a typical Harpercon, lacked originality, he spent his minute regurgitating the endorsements of Stevie Spiteful from The Grope & Fail and The Suburban. Really, Saulie, you need to leave a lasting impression on voters in under 60 seconds, and all you can do is regurgitate a brown nose fest of your boss in the corporate media? Ain’t that precious?
Thankfully, due to the structure of the debate, Cotler and the others could touch on other issues besides Israel.
Who won? IMHO, Cotler did as he proved himself not only the more experienced and multi-faceted candidate, but also in the way he was able to refute much of what Zajdel said with facts. However, it doesn’t matter what I think. It’s all those people in the room that evening. Misinformation is most powerful and as they say, it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be plausible–the mantra of the far right. I would say most in the room believed Zajdel more, so in that respect, he wins. Plus, Cotler, in proving how loyal he and Iggy really are to Israel, he was really dancing to Zajdel’s tune, but I guess to make the audience happy, it was the only way. See how twisted this is?
Jeff Itcush deserves applause for his integrity, but he clearly didn’t know his audience.
Is it Ethical For Any Clergyman to Tell Their Congregation How to Vote?
Yes, I was horrified when I read this:
At a recent Sabbath ceremony, a rabbi at one Sephardic synagogue used exceptionally strong language to praise Mr. Harper as a “prophet of Israel” – and urged his congregants to vote accordingly.
When I learned of this rabbi basically not only preaching that Stevie spiteful is a “prophet of Israel”, which in itself is pretty delusional, but the fact that any clergyman of any denomination telling his flock how to vote on election day. I have heard them urging their congregations to get out and vote, as many feel it is our civic duty to do so, but never how to vote.
CK’ s Projection for May 2
Both 308.com and Election Prediction Project as well as others are giving it to Cotler.
Despite the fact that a good chunk of the Jewish community have clearly swallowed the “Prophet Harper” kool-aid, many of them will vote for other parties. Irwin Cotler is obviously still very much respected by Jews and non-Jews alike in the riding. Maybe that’ll help him maintain the riding. However, with that group still harbouring a grudge against Iggy for daring to criticize Israel for the illegal bombing of that Lebanese village, it may well harm him. They will flock to Zajdel, surely.
I have noticed glaringly other ethnic communities from the riding not showing up to these events, such as the Filippino community. As such, I wonder if they have been entirely foresaken by team Zajdel? A group that is mostly of lower income, working class, but their devout Catholics and as such, they tend to be socially conservative. They’ve voted Liberal in the past, could they switch to the NDP? Anything’s possible, I suppose, but they’re socially conservative sensabilities may well turn them off the Orange team.
A friend of mine who voted in the advanced polls last week-end told me that she had overheard a few Elections Canada employees conversing amongst themselves about how the election result may be so close as there may be a recount. I found that disturbing as well. I worked as a scrutineer in a few election campaigns. I remember one of the rules that was drilled into us–no partisan chatter in the place; not even amongst ourselves. I’m not saying that was partisan chat, but it’s certainly a projection that could unduly influence a voter within earshot.
Nonetheless, I, too, believe this riding could be a squeaker between Cotler and Zajdel. The strategic voting sites do not have this riding targetted as many have projected Cotler to retain it, but I will say that folks of Mount-Royal, if you don’t like the Harpercons and don’t wish for them to have a majority, I think strategic voting will apply here and I will say vote for Cotler as he has the best chance to take Zajdel here.
The ballot question in Mount-Royal and no doubt in many Jewish ridings; which MP has the best leader for Israel? As Lantos suggested to Canadian Jews, Stevie’s loyalty to Israel must outweigh other issues; including democracy right here in our backyard, including even the economy. Every other issue and demographic taking a distant second. Disturbing and twisted indeed. As twisted as candidates like Navdeep Baines and Tim Uppal campaigning to be who’s best for the Sikkh part of India.