B’nai Brith: PM Harper has reached out over Sukkot election call

Will the Tories pick up a Parliamentary majority in the snap elections called for October 14th?

B’nai Brith says Orthodox voters can and should participate. Canadian Jews were a bit miffed that the snap election call in Canada set for mid October falls in line with Sukkot this year, making it more difficult for Orthodox Canadians to head out to polling stations. It would be a big stretch however to paint Harper & the conservatives as anything but welcoming and friendly to the Canadian Jewish community and by extension Israel.

Canada has made big strides in its Israeli relationship over the past 2-3 years with Harper at the helm of a minority govt, compared to a 12 year plus Liberal reign that was at times nearly hostile.. Under Harper the Hezbollah conflict and a much more balanced stance at the UN come to mind.

B’nai Brith has issued a statement on the matter of the elections, highlighting new electoral options to ensure full & fair participation by Orthodox Canadians to the process..

OTTAWA, September 5, 2008 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in ongoing discussion with B’nai Brith Canada over his decision to hold an election on October 14, 2008, the Jewish holiday of Succot. The Jewish human rights organization, which would have preferred an election date that did not coincide with a significant day on the calendar of the Jewish religion, nevertheless characterized the Government’s decision as “understandable” in light of electoral campaign laws and international obligations. 

Prime Minister Harper has personally reached out to the Jewish communityand contacted B’nai Brith regarding his decision to hold the upcoming federal election on a date that falls on a Jewish holiday,” said Frank Dimant, Executive Vice President of B’nai Brith Canada. “While it is regrettable that the Prime Minister ultimately settled on the date of Succot, we understand that the government had only the narrowest window of opportunity to schedule an election. We also recognize that the Prime Minister has made every sincere effort to arrive at a resolution that would not impose limitations on Orthodox Jews.

“Unlike previous elections, there is currently in place a new set of electoral laws that provide ample alternatives for voters to cast their ballot on days other than the scheduled election date. We appreciate the careful deliberation of the Prime Minster Harper on this sensitive matter to the Jewish community. B’nai Brith will work with Jewish community members to ensure their full participation in the election process.”

B’nai Brith Canada will be convening Town Hall pre-election debates across the country to bring issues of Jewish community concern to the fore. The first is to take place in Toronto on Wednesday, September 10 in the riding of Don Valley West. B’nai Brith will shortly release an Election Task Force Guide titled, ‘Issues of Concern and Recommendations for Action’ that will be accessible on the organization’s website www.bnaibrith.ca.

I will be voting by mail myself but not so much because of Sukkot per say, but because I’m in the holy land. It’s no secret who will be getting my vote either, despite the fact that Liberal opposition leader Stephan Dion is my riding’s representative / minister in Canada. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Canada hold conservative, the US hold conservative, and Israel usher in a new Likud govt? Trifecta.

  • Geoffrey Avraham L.

    Stephen Harper and his flunky Jim Flaherty are aiding and abetting a sworn enemy of Israel and a terrorist state, Iran, by their policy of condoning the selling out of PrimeWest Energy to Abu Dabhi, a supporter of Iran and their quest for nuclear weapons of mass destruction intended for Israel.  Jim Flaherty recently visited Abu Dabhi to personally tell them that our Canada, our country, is a nation of serfs that should be owned by Abu Dabhi.

    Follow the dots.

    Iran says Gulf shields its banks from U.S. pressure

    Tue Feb 5, 2008 1:32pm EST

    By Daliah Merzaban

    MANAMA (Reuters) – U.S. allies such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are helping shield Iran’s banking system from Washington’s “financial terrorism”, the governor of Iran’s central bank said on Tuesday.

    The United States has been trying to cut Iran’s access to the global financial system, including by putting pressure on Gulf Arab governments to isolate Iran, which it accuses of seeking nuclear weapons.

    The pressure is not working because cultural, political and economic ties between Gulf oil producers were too strong, Tahmasb Mazaheri told the Reuters Islamic Finance Summit.

    “Neither us nor our neighbors will sacrifice our long-term interests because of the unilateral pressures,” Mazaheri said.

    “Particularly in the region, Bahrain and the Emirates and other neighbors all around Iran’s borders, we have a lot of partners who are working with us in the long term,” he said.

    He did not explain what form their assistance took.

    Iran, which denies the nuclear charges, has long had close economic ties with Gulf states, especially in the UAE and Bahrain, Arab allies of Washington and home to the Middle East’s biggest financial centers.

    Even so, banks in the world’s top oil-exporting region have bowed to pressure from the United States to make doing business with the Islamic Republic more difficult.

    Bahrain’s largest lender by market value, Ahli United Bank AUBB.BH, had “frozen” banking activity with Iran, where it operates an affiliate Future Bank with two Iranian partners, two sources familiar with the matter said last month.

    Lenders in the UAE, meanwhile, have been holding off on issuing letters of credit to Iranian companies, bankers in the second-largest Arab economy said last month.[So that it doesn't look so bleeding obvious that they support Iran economically? GL]

    Foreign banks have been yielding to pressure, too. France’s BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Calyon, the investment banking arm of Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), stopped offering Letters of Credit on Iranian fuel imports because of pressure from Washington.

    “The pressure is a unilateral pressure,” Mazaheri said.

    “I call it kind of financial terrorism in the financial industry … and it cannot be tolerated by the global financial system,” he said.

    “The central bank assists Iranian private and state-owned banks to do their commitments regardless of the pressure on them,” he said.

    The U.S., which has a naval base in Bahrain, is pressing the United Nations to tighten sanctions on Iran, the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

    Iran, also holder of the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas, was retaliating by diversifying its more than $72 billion of reserves away from the weak U.S. currency, Mazaheri said.

    “We have tried to avoid keeping dollars and giving the dollar the benefit (of demand from our reserves),” he said, declining to give a breakdown of the reserves.

    The central bank’s motivations for diversifying its reserves were both “political and also because of the trend of the weakening dollar”, Mazaheri said. The dollar fell to record lows against the euro and a basket of major currencies last year.

    (Reporting by Daliah Merzaban, editing by Will Waterman)

    © Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

    Abu Dhabi

    (Arabic: أبو ظبي‎ ʼAbÅ« ẒabÄ«, literally Father of gazelle) is the capital and second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is also the seat of government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The city lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. Approximately 900,000 people lived in Abu Dhabi 2008, of whom 80% were expatriates. One of the world’s largest producers of oil, Abu Dhabi has actively attempted to diversfy it’s economy in recent years through investments in financial services and tourism. Abu Dhabi is ruled by Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the President of the UAE.

    As the wealthiest Emirate, Abu Dhabi is also considered the richest city in the world[2]. Each of Abu Dhabi’s 420,000 citizens is worth $17 million (AED 62 million), and more than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in this city alone. Yet according to CNN, “guest workers,” who constitute the majority of the population, “do not share the wealth.” The Gross Domestic Product per capita also reached $63,000 [3], which is far above the average income of the United Arab Emirates and which ranks third in the world after Luxembourg and Norway. Abu Dhabi is also planning many future projects sharing with the GCC and taking 29% of all the GCC future plannings. The United Arab Emirates is a fast-growing economy: in 2006 the per capita income grew by 9%, providing a GDP per capita of $49,700 and ranking third in the world at PPP.

    TAQA completes acquisition of Primewest Energy Trust

    Posted: 17-01-2008 , 09:06 GMT

    The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA), a publicly listed company on the Abu Dhabi Securities Market, announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary TAQA North Ltd. (TAQA North) has closed its acquisition of PrimeWest Energy Trust (PrimeWest) by way of plan of arrangement.  The transaction was determined by the federal Minister of Industry to be of net benefit to Canada under the Investment Canada Act.
    Don Garner, currently President and Chief Executive Officer of PrimeWest Energy Inc., the manager of PrimeWest, has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TAQA North with immediate effect.   Don Garner will be responsible for leading the integration of PrimeWest into TAQA North.
    Don Garner will be joined by Tim Granger, who assumes the role of TAQA North’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). The team’s priorities will be maintaining continuity of the operations and implementing TAQA North’s 2008 development programme, while ensuring efficient integration of the Development and Operating Departments of TAQA North and PrimeWest.
    TAQA North’s 2008 development programme consists of a capital expenditure commitment of C$500 million, targeting reserve replacement of approximately 140%.  Commenting on the closing of the transaction, TAQA Chief Executive Officer, Peter Barker-Homek, said: “PrimeWest is undoubtedly a great addition to TAQA North’s existing operations in Canada, providing further scale to help us capitalise on new and diverse development opportunities.  It is also important not to underestimate the value we place on the people we now have within our group.  I feel confident we have the right team in place to implement TAQA North’s development programmes and pursue growth opportunities, as we target reserve replacement ratios in the region of 140%.
    “TAQA is a truly global company that prides itself on the diversity of its operations and workforce and being a meritocracy – women/men from all nationalities have the opportunity to reach their full potential.  Today we have over 2,500 employees who come from 38 nations and are employed in nine countries.  Our company values of transparency, accountability, health and safety standards and social responsibility are shared across the group and mean that we are rapidly earning a reputation as a best practice operator.
    “The closing of this transaction is an important milestone in our company’s history.  TAQA is one of the first state-backed enterprises to become a major oil and gas company outside its country of origin, and aspires to be a standard bearer for how such enterprises conduct themselves in overseas markets.
    “On behalf of all the employees of TAQA I would like to express our gratitude for the special trust and confidence the government authorities of Canada have placed in TAQA.  Be assured, we won’t let you down.”
    TAQA North now boasts P+P reserves in excess of 480 MMBOE and current production of over 105,000 boe/d, making it one of the top ten companies in Canada in terms of net proven natural gas reserves and in the top 12 companies in terms of oil and gas production. The C$4.6 billion acquisition of PrimeWest, a conventional oil and gas royalty trust that actively acquires, develops, produces and sells natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids, was announced on September 24, 2007.
    As a result of the acquisition all traded securities of PrimeWest will be delisted from the TSX and the NYSE within a few days of the close.  Effective of today’s close, no further distributions to Unitholders will be made.
    TD Securities Inc., Citigroup and Goldman Sachs International acted as financial advisors, Heenan Blaikie LLP & Latham & Watkins LLP as legal advisors and Ernst & Young as accounting and tax advisors to TAQA and TAQA North on the transaction.
    © 2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

    Canada’s Flaherty dismisses fears over foreign capital

    Posted by Christian Braun on January 29, 2008 at 07:31 AM

    The Globe and Mail reports that, “State-owned investment vehicles are good for the economies of countries they invest in, [Canadian] federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says, having recently met with officials from what’s believed to be the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund. ‘There is no doubt that sovereign wealth funds provide numerous economic benefits not only for the country of origin but for the countries they invest in,’ the Finance Minister told a Toronto conference yesterday.”
    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Flaherty dismisses fears over foreign capital

    Finance Minister backs injections of overseas cash; plans national security test for foreign takeovers


    State-owned investment vehicles are good for the economies of countries they invest in, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says, having recently met with officials from what’s believed to be the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund.
    “There is no doubt that sovereign wealth funds provide numerous economic benefits not only for the country of origin but for the countries they invest in,” the Finance Minister told a Toronto conference yesterday where hundreds of people gathered to debate whether the Canadian economy is being “hollowed out” by foreign takeovers.
    “As we have seen during the recent credit turbulence, sovereign wealth funds can be a constructive source of investment in financial markets at times when capital is at a premium,” Mr. Flaherty said.
    Many of the world’s most formidable banks have recently accepted needed cash injections from sovereign wealth funds in order to cope with the credit crunch. Mr. Flaherty met last week with directors of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which has put $7.5-billion (U.S.) into U.S. banking giant Citigroup Inc.
    “We had a candid discussion about the way forward,” Mr. Flaherty said.
    They discussed the importance of investments being commercial rather than political in nature; maintaining high standards of international integrity; competing fairly with the private sector with respect to interest rates; and respecting host country rules, he said.
    The idea of drafting rules for sovereign wealth funds was a hot topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which Mr. Flaherty also attended.
    The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Monetary Fund are working on a list of best practices, and Mr. Flaherty said he expects to see preliminary reports at a coming meeting of finance ministers and central banks in Tokyo.
    As many foreign banks soak up billions of dollars from sovereign wealth funds, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce received a $1.5-billion shot of equity from a group of private investors that was dominated by Canadians. Insurer Manulife Financial Corp. took up $500-million of the shares.
    He said the government plans to finish its work on a national security test for foreign takeovers of Canadian firms by halfway through the year.
    “Unlike other G7 countries, we actually don’t have a mechanism in place in Canada to review investment for national security implications,” he said.
    “That is something that is being worked on now, as are the guidelines with respect to investments by state-owned enterprises.”
    Mr. Flaherty said he told an investment audience in Dubai last week that “these new guidelines will in no way create obstacles or signal any change in the government’s openness to foreign investment in Canada.
    “Their intention is in fact to provide clarity to investors around the world so that we can continue to attract foreign investment that benefits Canada,” he said.
    He said the country will not achieve its goals by slamming the door to investment.

  • neil

    The criticism you raise of the Conservatives, especially Flaherty is a good one. 

    Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) offered $26.75 per unit for PrimeWest. That’s a 34 per cent premium to the $19.94 closing price of the Primewest units.  Saying no to the acquisition would have denied the unit-holders a fantastic return on their investment and that would have been difficult to do politically, and for the conservatives- philisophically.   But I agree with you that Flaherty is letting Canada’s head offices go at an alarming rate.  Oil money is not dirty money, but you hate to think that if Abu Dhabi profits from this purchase, those profits will end up supporting Iran.

    Despite his poor choice of finance ministers, Stephen Harper is still a breath of fresh air when compared with Stephane Dion and the Liberals.  Here’s what Dion wrote back in 2006 at the apex of Israel’s undermined foray into Lebanon:

    “Aug 06, 2006 statement by Stéphane Dion on the issue of The Second Lebanon War (2006)

    Statement by Stéphane Dion

    The Liberal Party and Israel: a friendship based on
    Special to Globe and Mail Update
    Some members of Canada’s Jewish community, including some
    prominent Liberals, are reportedly unhappy with the
    Liberal Party’s position on the Middle East.
    Following the position adopted by our interim leader, Bill
    Graham, many candidates for the leadership of the Liberal
    Party criticized the position taken by the Harper
    government — Stephen Harper’s unconditional approval of
    the Israeli government’s military strategy, his apparent
    indifference to the plight of the Lebanese people, and his
    refusal to call for a rapid cessation of hostilities.
    When one believes a friend to be mistaken, one should say
    so. In 2003, for example, the majority of Canadians and
    their Liberal government did not approve of the American
    invasion of Iraq. The government refused to take part,
    against the advice of Mr. Harper at the time. This was not
    because we chose to ignore Saddam Hussein’s crimes, but
    because we believed that such an invasion could only
    create more violence for the Iraqis and more political
    difficulties for the United States. The evolution of the
    situation over the past three years tells us that
    America’s best friends are not those who encouraged it to
    invade Iraq.
    In 1982, a previous Israeli government decided to invade
    Lebanon. A few years later, a majority of Israelis
    believed the invasion had created even more hostility
    against Israel among Lebanon’s population (notably the
    creation of Hezbollah), had resulted in unnecessary
    Israeli military casualties, and had accomplished none of
    the political objectives set out in 1982.
    Today, Israel’s population is united because, in times of
    war, solidarity with a country’s soldiers tends to drown
    out voices of dissent. But a few Israeli military and
    security experts have already criticized the current
    military operation. They believe the number of civilian
    Lebanese casualties and the breadth of destruction will
    increase support for Hezbollah, and that its nature as a
    guerrilla movement means its infrastructure cannot be
    dismantled through aerial bombardments. The result, in the
    medium term, can only be an even weaker Lebanese state and
    a strengthened Hezbollah.
    If, in a few months, it clearly appears that the current
    crisis has made possible real progress for the security of
    both Lebanon and Israel, I will be overjoyed and will
    gladly recognize that we were mistaken in our analysis.
    If, on the contrary, it is clear that it has produced only
    death and destruction and not really improved anybody’s
    security, then perhaps those who criticize us today will
    recognize that, by worrying about Lebanon’s fate, we were
    being lucid friends of Israel.”

    Unfortunately Israel didn’t finish what it started and Dion didn’t get to eat his words / “be overjoyed”.  I hope he’s not too overjoyed when he gets fed to the wolves by his own party when he loses the next election.

  • Heh! Dion’s right, other than ousting the ENTIRE PLO to another continent in Tunis, creating a security buffer zone, and securing a 15 year alliance with Christian Lebanese - Israel’s 82 Lebanon foray was a total waste of time. Why bother with this sort of thing if you can onlymeet 3 out of 3 primary objectives. Olmert’s administration is a different matter sadly, a Begin/Sharon tandem he is not..

    I hope your read of the election cycle proves true Neil, aside from the Israel topic which is a given, everyone I speak too tells me the small c minority govt Conservatives have been doing a good job. My understanding of all matters Liberal points to Michael Ignatieff being even worse than Dion on Israel (should he be ousted, and of course barring a win he’s likely gonzo.)

  • neil


    The only way you can see the Liberals as being more pro-Israel than the Conservatives is if you think the carbon tax Dion wants to impose will reduce fuel consumption and thereby reduce reliance on arab oil- whose proceeds have a tendency to fund terrorist enterprises / endeavours.  For me, that’s a real stretch.  If you buy this line of thinking, you might as well label me anti-Israel for filling up my car with gas and buying the occasional shawarma.  I’d rather have more meaningful, direct support, as the Conservatives have shown by leading Canada’s turn-around on issues dealing with Israel before the UN.  The tone at the Department of Foreign Affairs has noticeably changed for the better, since they took office.

  • Geoffrey A L

    @ neil:
    It looks like the Harpercon “net benefit test” and “national security test” for foreign equity buyouts of Canadian businesses is falling a little short for Canada. Why were the Harpercons so keen on killing publicly traded Canadian income trusts, that Canadian pension funds and Canadians could buy for their retirement accounts, and allow Abu Dabhi to buy it and pay no tax on the revenues. Now UAE lobbied against Canada’s UN bid. How does this help Israel?

    UAE lobbied against Canada’s UN bid amid dispute: Official
    Published On Thu Oct 14 2010
    Dignitaries disembark from an Emirates Airbus A380 passenger jet during a hand-over ceremony in Hamburg in this 2008 photo. The UAE has pushed back hard against Ottawa for not opening up more routes for its airlines Emirates and Etihad.

    Dignitaries disembark from an Emirates Airbus A380 passenger jet during a hand-over ceremony in Hamburg in this 2008 photo. The UAE has pushed back hard against Ottawa for not opening up more routes for its airlines Emirates and Etihad.

    Brian Murphy Associated Press

    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—A UAE official says the country lobbied against Canada’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat in the latest blow to relations that have soured after disputes over airline routes.

    The official says that the United Arab Emirates opposed Canada’s UN effort in part because of its trade policies. Canada failed earlier this week to win one of the non-permanent Security Council seats.

    The UAE has pushed back hard against Ottawa for not opening up more routes for its airlines Emirates and Etihad. Canadian troops are being forced to leave a UAE military base used to supply Canadian forces in Afghanistan.

    The UAE official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because of standing government rules on behind-the-scenes briefings.