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Harper a ‘steadfast friend’ to Israel

Canada’s prime minister told a Jewish group that Israel “will always have a steadfast friend” in the country’s Conservative government. “Over the past year, we got a pretty sharp reminder that it’s one thing to offer supportive words to Israel when it’s convenient, and quite another to stand firm in its hour of need,” Stephen Harper said Tuesday in an Ottawa speech to the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. “When it was not popular to do so, we stood and told the truth,” Harper said, referring to his government’s support of Israel during last summer’s war in Lebanon. “Israel had a friend that mattered. And that, my friends, is the only thing that really counts.” The Conservatives were the only Canadian political party to fully stand by Israel as it confronted a terrorist enemy in Lebanon, Harper said, adding that other parties were just “fairweather friends.” Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who also addressed the gathering, said his party “will continue to proudly support, as a cornerstone of our foreign policy, the right of Israel to exist in peace and security.”