Under Stephen Harper, Canada stood out as a resolute friend of Israel and the Jewish people in Canada and around the world. Sadly, under Justin Trudeau, this strong support has weakened.

Prime Minister Harper refused to let Canada engage in the anti-Israel United Nations General Assembly motions that take place each fall. He didn’t allow it because it goes against our values, and it singles out one country at the UN which happens to be a democracy and an ally of Canada.

For four years, Justin Trudeau agreed and continued the tradition of not engaging in these anti-Israel motions. But this past year, that changed. The Liberals flipped. They voted in favour of some of these motions.

The only thing that has changed has been Justin Trudeau’s failing bid for a UN Security Council seat. The Liberals are willing to flip Canadian foreign policy going back to 2004 in order to curry favour with dictators to gain a few votes. They let down allies in the process of reversing Canada’s foreign policy, all to make Justin Trudeau look good on the world stage.

And for what? What principles will Trudeau stand up for if Canada does win a Security Council seat? Will he use it to stand up for Israel? Will he use it to champion the rights of the Uyghur minority oppressed by China? Will he stand up for the people of Iran crying out for democracy and an end to theocratic rule? Or will he have had to sacrifice all of these principles in order to win votes?

It doesn’t need to be this way. We need a principled Conservative leader who will make Canada a true champion of freedom and defender of democracies – including Israel – around the world. We need a return to the principled foreign policy of John Baird and Stephen Harper – Conservatives who stood up to Vladimir Putin and championed freedom, instead of desperately trying to win favour from dictators.

Canada can play a strong role in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, as that champion of freedom, standing resolutely with our allies. One of the first ways it can do so is with regard to the status of Jerusalem.

I have been absolutely clear about this and my views have not changed. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. I was proud to have been the caucus sponsor of the 2018 resolution brought forward in part by the NDG-Westmount and Mount-Royal Conservative riding associations to enshrine this position in our party's policy document and I will continue to defend it if I am elected leader.

The strong presence of the Jewish people there is thousands of years old. And in the modern era of Israel, the Knesset is in Jerusalem, the Supreme Court, most of the foreign affairs and government ministries, in West Jerusalem.

I believe that we need more of a presence on the ground in Jerusalem. It is crazy that our Ambassador has to drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to meet with government officials just to preserve a diplomatic fiction. It is time to recognize reality and move our Embassy.

I also understand the increasing threat of anti-Semitism around the world, including sadly here in Canada. I will stand with the Jewish community against this ancient hatred, unafraid to call it out wherever it comes from. Anti-Zionism has far too often been allowed to become a thinly veiled cover for anti-Semitism. Politicians need to unite in calling this out. You can count on me to make this clear.

Erin O’Toole is a candidate for Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

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