I was at a great program on Thursday, November 29th at Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Toronto. Visions for Canada is billed as an opportunity to engage with senior politicians on issues of interest to the Jewish Community. The first program was that night, featuring Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. With almost 500 in attendance, I think we can call it a rousing success.
After Justin assisted in lighting the Hannukah candles (my 19 year old daughter, who voluntarily attended pointed out that Justin could not light the candles because he is not Jewish), the program truly got into gear. The format was straightforward. Five questions, discussed by the organizers and members of the synagogue, would be asked by Rabbi Jarrod Grover. After those questions were asked, the audience could pose questions to the aspiring Prime Minister.
One of the key questions regarded the work of the P5+1 in negotiating an agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear program and enrichment of materials. To be frank, I was worried that Justin would follow the path of other pols, giving a wishy washy answer designed to pander to the audience while saying nothing. I was pleased to hear him start his response with a direct statement. To me, that direct statement framed the rest of his response, building a strong foundation upon which additional nuance could bring value.
I agree with Justin on this statement and on the need to bring additional nuance to the discussion. When unequivocal support of Israel is a part of the foundation, diplomatic nuance becomes one of the key tools in moving from loud rhetoric to action. It is what allows diplomats to translate the bluster of leaders to the reality of success.
There is a road to travel before I am fully confident about Justin Trudeau. But even now, he stands above the leaders of the two other parties, one enmeshed in controversy and the other a pale shadow of his predecessor. I am a faithless man but I am increasingly confident that in 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada and its leader will be the right and best choice for Canada and for its support of our only democratic partner in the Middle East.