TORONTO (JTA) — Canada’s staunchly pro-Israel prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been re-elected by a healthy margin.
Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has gone from heading two successive minority governments to a comfortable majority.
In Monday’s federal elections, Harper captured 167 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons, with 40 percent of the popular vote.
In a stunning reversal, the left-leaning New Democratic Party replaced the Liberal Party as the official opposition. The NDP won 102 seats and the Liberals dropped to 34.
Harper’s strong and clear support for Israel apparently drew many Jewish voters away from their traditional Liberal base. In heavily Jewish districts, Israel emerged as a key election issue.
In two Toronto-area electoral districts, Jewish Conservative challengers played up the government’s support for Israel and defeated longtime Liberal lawmakers.
In Montreal, Irwin Cotler, a former justice minister and well-known human rights advocate, won his district in a tough and close race against an Orthodox Jewish former city councillor. Cotler, whose victories in the past were assured, won by a narrow margin.
In Winnipeg, Jewish Liberal lawmaker Anita Neville lost to the Conservative candidate.
Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber told JTA that while Jewish voters may have have shifted away from the Liberals, "the Jewish community doesn’t determine any election."
"The voting pattern in the community really mirrors the rest of Canada," Farber said.
In a statement, B’nai Brith Canada congratulated Harper and said it looks "forward as always to working with the opposition parties as well."