Examining Canada's position on Israel

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Israel over the weekend for his first official. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is delighted to welcome the Prime Minister and says it's been a long time coming. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been welcomed as a hero with unprecedented enthusiasm on his first official trip to Israel. Since his time in office the Prime Minister's stand on Israel has moved beyond his own government's stated policies. Those watching the start of his first Middle East tour are divided on the foreign policy implications.

"Prime minister Harper, my good friend Stephen, welcome to Jerusalem. It's been long in coming, this visit. We've spoken about it many times. And we're delighted to see you both here. I have to say, Stephen, that you are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. I'm not just saying that, I mean it deeply, from the bottom of my heart, and I speak for all the people of Israel."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Few will doubt the Prime Minister's support for Israel. Ever since Stephen Harper came to office, he and his caucus have frequently abandoned the diplomatic language of previous governments ... in favour of strong words in support of Israel and its right to self-defense.

Terry Milewski: Harper government zigzags on way to a Mideast policy -- CBC News

This morning, Prime Minister Harper is in Israel on a high profile diplomatic visit. About 200 Canadian delegates are along for the ride, including senior cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister is set to receive an honourary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. And he will make history as the first Canadian leader to address the Israeli legislature.

In Canada, there's disagreement about what's been gained and lost as Canada shifts approach.

  • Harold Walleris a professor of political science at McGill University. He's the author of several books and articles about Canada's relationship with Israel, and he was in Montreal.

  • Paul Heinbecker was Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. He's now with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. He was in Ottawa.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott.

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