Andrew Cohen writes that Stephen Harper has had Irwin Cotler in his sights for some time. Two months ago, the Conservatives spread the rumour that Cotler --three and a half years before the next election -- was about to resign. It wasn't the first time they had been so underhanded. Cohen writes:
Cotler’s stature among Jews notwithstanding, the Conservatives brazenly distributed a flyer to his constituents in 2009 claiming that he had attended “the anti-Semitic” human rights conference in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. Didn’t you know that Cotler is a closet anti-Semite?
The Harper line is that anyone who doesn't support the present government of Israel is anti-Semitic. And, their candidate, Saulie Zajdel, spouts that line. Cohen writes:
Zajdel, you should know, couldn’t carry Cotler’s briefcase. He is all-Israel all the time, convinced that it’s the only issue of interest to Jews in Canada. Or should be.
Behold, the Conservative Jewish strategy: outflank the Liberals on Israel. Paint them soft on security. Be more Zionist than Theodor Herzl.
The point is to make Canadian Jews — who have historically supported the Liberals as urban, progressive, internationalist centrists — one-issue voters.
It's classic Harper wedge issue politics. And it has nothing to do with Israel. For the Conservatives, Stephen Harper is the anti-Trudeau; and Pierre Trudeau is the Anti-Christ. Irwin Cotler sits in Pierre Trudeau's old seat, which they covet. Their goal is to plant their flag on Mount Royal. And they will stop at nothing in their quest to raise it there.