Stephen Harper
Stephen HarperReuters

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Israel Hayom newspaper that there is no reason why Canada shouldn’t follow in the footsteps of the US and relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Harper, considered one of the most pro-Israel prime ministers in Canada’s history, spoke with pride of the pro-Israel steps he took while in office.

"It really began at my first summit of [the International Organization of the] Francophonie, which I think was 2006, where at the last minute, after supposedly the decision was decided, a couple of countries came forward with an anti-Israeli resolution blaming Israel for the [2006] Second Lebanon War, and all these other things. You know, I thought the resolution was not only unfair, but actually untrue. And I am not a guy who when something is untrue just goes along because everyone else says I should,” he told Israel Hayom.

Harper noted he was consistently pro-Israel while in office, "whether it was when we became the first country to abandon the Durban II process, when we were the first country to walk out of [former Iranian President] Ahmadinejad's speech at the UN – these were the right thing to do. And frankly, they were in the interest of Canada because these are bad things. And they may be directed at Israel, but they are bad things for us, too. And as I say, it makes no sense, Israel is being singled out, but ultimately it could be launched at anyone of us."

Speaking of the two countries shared values, Harper said, "Certainly, I think people understand my view. I see Israel as a country – as a western democratic country that shares values, opportunities and threats with Canada. And I think western politicians who believe they can kind of abandon Israel on the front line of these threats are endangering the long-term security interests of their own countries."

He admitted his clear pro-Israel stance "was not popular among other Western countries. It is not the direction certainly of European countries, and it was not popular for much of the Canadian media. But the fact is that the position had very strong support from major elements in the Canadian population and is a position that many individual Western politicians do have and a lot of politicians outside the west have.”

Harper was asked that, if he were willing to be pro-Israel no matter the price he would have to pay, why did he not relocate the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as prime minister?

"There was a conservative prime minister many years ago who tried to do that, and it was a schlimazel, so no government wanted to touch it since ... At the time, it would have been a symbolic move, but with real serious security risks. And Canada doing it alone – the risk just did not match the reward,” he replied.

“Now that the US has done it, there is really every reason for the government of Canada to do it, and certainly my successor as leader of the Canadian parliament,” he continued.

"[Current Conservative Party leader] Andrew Scheer has committed to doing that, because this now is a very feasible thing to do. And it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do not just because Jerusalem – at least west Jerusalem is certainly the capital of Israel – but it is also the right thing to do because by not having the embassies in Jerusalem since 1948, I think we have inadvertently – Western countries have – sent the signal to extremists on the Palestinian side that someday Israel really won't exist. I think that by putting our embassies now that Donald Trump has made that possible really sends a signal that this is how we get peace," said the former Prime Minister.

Harper also praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was Israel’s premier for six of the 10 years in which Harper headed Canada's government.

"No Israeli leader has been as huge on the world stage. He is a commanding presence on the world stage. We were prime ministers together, Prime Minister Netanyahu and I. I am also the chairman of the IDU [International Democrat Union], which is a global federation of global right-wing parties, which [Netanyahu's] Likud [party] is a member of, as is the Conservative Party of Canada. So, we are sister parties. And we served together for six years, and we have become close personal friends. And I have tremendous admiration for what he has achieved."

Harper said he was personally supportive of Netanyahu "because I know him. I have witnessed his capabilities, I have witnessed somebody who faces, just pressures that are unimaginable in a country like Canada and most secure Western countries."

As Harper sees it, Israel and Canada are partners to the same fate because they have both managed to survive against all odds.

"Israel was founded by refugees. Canada, certainly the original British population in Canada, was a refugee population from the United States. … Israel was obviously in an ongoing struggle in a neighborhood that's often unwelcoming or unfriendly. Canada had a period really of 40 years that ended in 1815 where we had to defend our existence from the United States," he told Israel Hayom.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)