Stephen Harper was already portrayed, and not always in a positive light, as the most staunch supporter of Israel; so to build on that, they had to select candidates with the same commitment.
In the Toronto riding of York Centre, that candidate was Mark Adler, who had at least one friend in a high place, Nathan Jacobson; who was somewhat of a kingmaker for the Harper Conservatives. A described "philanthropist" Jacobson had all of the right connections, both in Canada and Israel.
Jacobson hosted a number of Canadian-Israeli receptions on Parliament Hill, and said that people from the Prime Minister's Office attended, as well as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird ... A photograph has circulated in the media of Jacobson standing between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Harper ...
Jacobson also said that he had introduced Kenney to top-level politicians in Israel. "Jason and I have spent a little time in Israel on several occasions when he's been there. And I've hosted dinners in Israel with senior government people. I, in fact, took Jason to meet Netanyahu his first time, meeting Netanyahu and other people within the security and political environment within Israel."
But soon a scandal would break that would prove to be more of an embarrassment for the Conservatives. Seems their bridge to the vote rich Jewish community might collapse, when it was discovered that Jacobson was wanted in the United States on a charge of money laundering.
Harper, Kenney and Baird claimed not to know of his criminal past, which begs the question: why is there no screening of people getting this close to the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet?
A Bizarre Election Campaign
Mark Adler would go on to defeat the incumbent, hockey legend Ken Dryden. However, what made the campaign bizarre, was the issue of who was the biggest supporter of a foreign country.
York Centre has a large Jewish population and a key issue, Dryden told CBC News, is the two parties' positions on Israel.
Standing outside Kiva's Bagels on Steeles Avenue, Howard Cohen is one such voter. He said Conservative Stephen Harper's consistent backing of Israel has won him over to the Conservative camp. "We need all the friends we can get and he's the leading supporter of Israel in the western world," said Cohen.Ironically, key players in both the war in Lebanon and attacks on Gaza, are being investigated by the Israeli courts.
Voters like Cohen have not forgotten Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's labelling of an Israeli military action in Lebanon as a war crime back in 2006, and he said Dryden could end up paying the price. "He's on the wrong side this time," Cohen said.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09.I hardly think that Dalal is anti-Israel. He just knows that if they don't address this issue themselves, the International Criminal Court will take over.
The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands.
Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel's Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country's population. He said he had based his petition to the court on "strong factual and legal findings" from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries.
His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions - including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure - not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.
So apparently Michael Ignatieff was on the right side of this issue after all.
Robocall Scandal and Republican Canvassers
Mark Adler may have been the Belle of the Ball after his stunning victory, but the glow would soon fade from his tiara, when it was discovered that his riding was one being investigated in the Robocall election fraud scandal.
He was also one of the Conservative candidates who used the Republican Front Porch Strategies to canvas for him, but failed to mention that on his Elections Canada financial report. Would that invoice have put him over his legally allowable limit? He spent more than $94,000.
In Hot Water Again
Adler would continue to play off the Israel connection to ensure his political fortune, especially given the bad press he'd received after the election.
When Stephen Harper visited Israel for the first time in January of this year, Adler was heard on tape begging to have his picture taken with him at the sacred Western Wall.
A month later, he barred Liberal MP and human rights activist, Irwin Cotler, from an Israel charity event.
Global News reported last week that Adler told Cotler – a well-known human rights activist – he was not welcome at the event on Jan.19. Rabbis said they heard about the incident and were upset that Cotler was not invited to attend – one even calling it senseless hatred.
Senseless hatred indeed. Nothing new for the Harper clan though, as they also tried to ban Michael Ignatieff from attending a Hanukkah ceremony at a school for disabled children.
But aside from the gaffes, Adler's integrity is again put into question, with a pending and controversial fundraiser that he will be hosting.
He settled the lawsuit with Nathan Jacobson, by agreeing to pay $114,962, hence the need for the fundraiser.
However, this has now become an issue for the ethics commissioner.
The Conservatives themselves, questioned how NDP Pat Martin was going to pay a $100,000 settlement, and according to Martin: “It’s wrong to use subsidized public dollars for personal private use,” he said. “I’ve got tons of money in my riding association coffers and they can’t spend a single nickel to help me with my legal problems or the debt from my lawsuit"
Donations made are tax receipted meaning that 75% of the donations would be made by us, and it's pretty clear that this fundraiser is being conducted by the riding association. Says Steve Maher:
Mark Adler’s brother, Paul, is the treasurer of the York Centre Conservative Association. Martin Rosenbaum, who handled Adler’s defence in the Jacobson lawsuit, is a former president of the association. The invitation to the fundraiser is headlined: Fundraiser in support of Mark Adler.Glover wouldn't want to remind the public of her own lobbyist invited fundraiser. It's important to note that this is not the first time that Adler has been in trouble over fundraisers.
The “confirmed guests” at the event are Industry Minister Christian Paradis, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, Senator Linda Frum and parliamentary secretary Pierre Poilievre. Shelly Glover withdrew on Wednesday. Her office said she has events in her riding to attend.
How much does he think he can get away with?
Hopefully, by 2015, the voters of York Centre will have had enough of Mark Adler. I know I have.