Canada’s stridently pro-Israel prime minister won re-election, but is still shy of the majority he sought in Parliament.
Stephen Harper defied an election law his own Conservative government had passed that fixed a federal election date for more than a year from Tuesday’s election. In calling an early vote, the prime minister sought to transform his minority government into a majority.
Indeed, at the outset, polls showed Harper was poised to win a majority, but that momentum dwindled through the campaign. Still, he strengthened his party’s minority standing in the House of Commons, from
127 seats to 144.
Thousands of Jewish voters were forced to cast ballots at advance polls, as the election took place on the first day of Sukkot. Some Jewish observers derided the prime minister for scheduling the election on Sukkot – even as he courted Jewish voters.
For most of Canada’s Jews, Harper has been a breath of fresh air following years of Liberal rule. He has repeatedly voiced strong support for Israel, and Canada was the first country to withhold funds from the
Hamas-led government in Gaza.
Canada’s four Jewish members of Parliament in the previous government have now been reduced to three – all of them opposition Liberals (including Mount Royal’s Irwin Cotler).