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Meet Mr. Integrity

Yisroel Besser

Stephen Harper says what he means and means what he says. Not everyone talks that way, but it’s endeared him to Canada’s Jewish community, who see him as that rare international leader proud to defend Israel on moral grounds. Perhaps that’s why he chose a Jewish community event to serve his opening volley on foreign policy in the 2015 campaign.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

In the elevator headed to the fourth floor of Montreal’s Sheraton Four Points Hotel, an elated Prime Minister Stephen Harper looked at his aides. “Wow,” he said, “that was remarkable.” He stepped out and headed toward his suite, shaking his head in wonder. Rather than politics or world events, the Canadian prime minister wanted to talk about the dinner he’d just attended downstairs. It wasn’t just the adulation or warmth of the crowd that captured him or the applause that punctuated his speech like a steady roll of thunder. Most of all, it was the authenticity of the people and their gratitude. It wasn’t an evening of political glad-handing and shoulder-rubbing, not another round of photo ops for sale and meaningless banter; many in the audience had never before participated in a political event, but this was different. Those who managed to approach the leader and those chosen to do so from behind the lectern all echoed the very same message: thank you. The event, billed as the King David Gala, was conceived by the Jewish Community Council of Montreal — the umbrella organization that deals with a wide range of communal religious needs, from beis din to kashrus supervision — as a means of expressing communal hakaras hatov. With elections slated for October 2015, and most polls showing the Conservative leader running neck and neck with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair not far behind), every seat in parliament is significant. Over the years, the prime minister has faced much opposition for his hard-line approach to terrorism — but tonight, he is among friends. What better place to serve the opening volley in the upcoming debate on foreign policy?  

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