LAST WEEK, federal Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announced that, if elected, a Conservative government would move the Canadian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
With that, Scheer announced he supports what few other countries have done. As in almost none.
In 2017, U.S. President Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Prior to that, there were no embassies in that divided city. Prior to that, all countries with embassies in Israel were located in Tel Aviv.
After Trump’s announcement, Honduras and Romania joined the U.S. in Jerusalem. Australia also stated they would move their embassy, but would locate theirs in West Jersualem.
Since 1967, the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab forces, Israel has occupied East Jerusalem. That war saw Israel capture considerable territory including the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Since then, Israel has occupied all of those territories. Palestinians have lived as perpetual refugees. Many on both sides talk of a two-state solution, but peace has remained elusive.
Brokering a two-state solution has been intransigent, but countries around the world have acknowledged placing embassies in Jerusalem would not help the process. Jerusalem is too important to both Israel and Palestine.
Back to Scheer, and his alignment with Trump’s policy. This is an election year. Scheer may well think it is important on the foreign stage to choose a pro-Israel position over a middle approach that gives space for a two-state solution of Israel and Palestine to be brokered. A pro-Israel stance may be to his advantage in getting votes, especially in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec. But it harms Canada’s place on the world stage.
Canada is not the superpower of the US. Canada is a middle power. Moving the Canadian embassy to Jerusalem would appease Israel and the U.S. But Canada would lose its place in the world of bringing partners together, of brokering peace, and building capacity for democracy.
Scheer wants to differentiate himself from Trudeau, as being seen as a strong statesman outside of Canada. But posturing for election votes is a poor reason to turn his back on virtually all of the countries of the world, with the exception of the U.S. Choosing to parrot Trump is not strong statesmanship at all, but pandering to Scheer’s base.
Back in Kamloops, far from the halls of power in Ottawa, the location Canada’s embassy in Israel might not seem that important to us here. In fact, in must not be that important for our MP Cathy McLeod. She has neither tweeted nor retweeted anything about Scheer’s goal of moving the embassy for the last week.
She’s tweeted and retweeted about LNG, the carbon tax, and pipelines, as well as Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, and local fundraisers. But she tweeted nothing about moving Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem. One can only assume that silence means while she may consent to Scheer’s idea, she isn’t planning on campaigning on it.
But we must remember that whoever we elect locally will help to decide who forms the next government in our fall 2019 federal elections. And we must remember that if Scheer has no problem aligning himself with Trump with respect to Canada’s embassy in Israel, one wonders, if elected, how many other policies would Scheer kowtow to Trump on as well.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.