Canadian Jews in Israel could help Harper
Crowdsourcing effort aims to fly them here to vote and encourage support for Tories
MONTREAL— Conservative Leader Stephen Harper could be in line for a late-campaign boost in support from a group raising money so that Canadian citizens living in Israel can cast a ballot in the election and encourage Jews to get to the voting box.
The gesture is intended as political payback for a politician viewed as an unabashed ally of the Jewish state, one who has proven himself to be “Israel’s best friend among world leaders,” according to the fundraising campaign.
The online crowdsourcing effort has already solicited more than $4,700 to fly voters for the final week of the Oct. 19 election.
“Our project will send a group of 10 Canadian Israelis to fly to Canada in order to vote on election day,” the video says. “They will also hold a get-out-the-vote campaign in the Jewish community a week before the elections. Most importantly, this will give Prime Minister Harper a great loud message of well-deserved gratitude.”
The campaign is being managed by Dan Illouz, a Montreal-born lawyer and McGill University graduate who moved to Israel at the age of 23 and currently lives in Jerusalem, according to his personal website.
Illouz could not be reached for comment, but he recently told the Canadian Jewish News that he believes Harper is good for Canada, the Jewish community, Israel and the world.
Parties’ success in courting Jewish voters could prove crucial to the outcome in several ridings. Among them is the Montreal district of Mount Royal, a long-time Liberal riding held by Irwin Cotler, who is retiring from politics. The Ontario riding of Thornhill, which claims the highest percentage of Jewish voters, has been a GTA stronghold of the Tories since former television broadcaster Peter Kent was elected in 2008.
With some exceptions, Canadian citizens living abroad are allowed to vote in the election at their Canadian embassy so long as they have not been out of the country for more than five years. But conducting a formal campaign to ensure the re-election of Tory candidates could open up the group to third-party election advertising laws, which require groups to register with Elections Canada if they spend more than $500 in their ad campaign. They also have to comply with national and per-riding spending limits.
“The definition of advertising is promoting or opposing a party or candidate or an issue with which the party or candidate is associated,” said Diane Benson, a spokeswoman with Elections Canada.
Speaking about the law in general, not specifically about this particular group, Benson said it is more difficult to determine if speaking to crowds or encouraging people to vote by wordof-mouth or other methods constitutes advertising under the law
So far, only 20 individuals or groups registered with Elections Canada as third-parties for the upcoming vote. Illouz’s group is not among them.
Those third parties are permitted to spend up to $439,410.81 in total election ad expenses and no more than $8,788.22 in any one riding, according to calculation based on the length of the election.