Canadian MP Erin O'Toole. (Courtesy) Courtesy

Erin O’Toole is running for the leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party and says he will move Canada’s embassy to Jerusalem if he defeats Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the next election.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Canada’s Conservative Party is electing a new national leader this summer, and if candidate Erin O’Toole wins he promises to follow in America’s footsteps and move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Under Stephen Harper, Canada stood out as a resolute friend of Israel. Sadly, under Justin Trudeau this strong support has weakened. We need a principled Conservative leader who will make Canada a true friend of Israel once again,” O’Toole said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

“I have been absolutely clear about this and my views have not changed. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he said.

“The strong presence of the Jewish people there is thousands of years old. But the modern era of Israel — the Knesset is in Jerusalem, the Supreme Court, most of the foreign affairs and government ministries in West Jerusalem.

“I believe that we need more of a presence on the ground in Jerusalem. It’s crazy that our ambassador has to drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to meet with government officials just to preserve a diplomatic fiction. It’s time to recognize reality and move our Embassy.”

Two years ago, during his first run at the party leadership, O’Toole made his support for Israel clear.

“You can support an ultimate two-state solution while also recognizing that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel,” said O’Toole, noting that Canada needs to have a larger presence there.

O’Toole, 47, was born in Montreal, is bilingual in English and French and spent 12 years in the Canadian air force before becoming a corporate lawyer. He was first elected in 2012, representing the Durham riding just east of Toronto, and served as a cabinet member under former Prime Minister Steven Harper, whose administration had a strong relationship with Israel.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservative Party leadership election will be held by postal ballot in August.

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