Canadian PM To Resign After Israel Visit?
Reports speculate that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a staunch ally of Israel, may announce his resignation from politics following his first visit to the Jewish state in January, a year and a half before the next general elections, according to Shalom Toronto.
John Ivison, a senior political commentator for the Canadian National Post, reported that a Conservative party source said Harper's Israel trip was pushed up from originally being planned for March.
The source added that big decisions are being put off, and that "there is open speculation that Mr. Harper will return from the Middle East in triumph and announce he plans to resign as Prime Minister before Parliament returns for the spring session."
Jason MacDonald, head of Harper's communications department, denied the claims, saying "the Prime Minister remains focused on ensuring our government delivers on the priorities of Canadians: jobs, the economy and keeping our communities safe."
However, Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau is favored in the polls, leading to speculation that Harper will not run in the upcoming elections.
During his speech at the Jewish National Fund's gala dinner December 1, Harper, after announcing his plans to visit Israel, said "Canada will always stand by Israel as a friend."
Harper emphasized in his speech that the group of people working with him all "hold the same position on this topic and are ready to fight for it."
"As long as there are people like (Minister of Employment and Multiculturalism) Jason Kenney, (Foreign Minister) John Baird, (Parliament member) Peter Kent, Joe Oliver (Minister of Energy), (Parliament member) Mark Adler and others, as long as they are around Canada will keep its strong stance regarding Israel," remarked Harper.
Some interpret the statement to be a hint at Harper's intention not to run in the next elections, particularly as Kenney is thought to have highest chances of succeeding the Prime Minister.
Harper, who has held his post since 2006, has been a firm ally of Israel.
The year he took office Harper supported Israel in the Lebanon War, and did so again in 2008 during Operation Cast Lead. He further voted against UN recognition of "Palestine" in November 2012, has cut ties with Iran over its nuclear program, and is noted for fighting anti-Semitism in Canada.
In speeches and interviews Harper consistently expresses support of Israel as the Jewish state, defines fundamental Islam as a security threat to Canada, and therefore expressed skepticism over the "Arab spring."