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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Israeli ambassador cracks Maclean’s Power 25 list

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Miriam Ziv

Late last year, Israeli Ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv received an unexpected honour: she was selected by Maclean’s magazine for its annual “Power 25” list.

The list is a who’s who of influential power players in the nation’s capital and on Parliament Hill.

Ziv, now in her fifth and final year as ambassador, told The CJN she had never been nominated for anything like the “Power 25” before and that it came as a surprise.

“It was a ‘wow’ moment for me. But it was a great compliment, not only for me, but for Israel. Being the sole non-Canadian on the list in the company of 24 Canadians and having Israel represented out of all the other countries that work with Canada, is a special thing,” she said on a recent phone call from the embassy in Ottawa.

Others on the list included Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal leadership front-runner Justin Trudeau, NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Beverley McLachlin, to name a few.

The magazine nicknamed Ziv “the dogged envoy” in a nod to her tireless efforts to increase bilateral trade and strengthen cultural bonds between the countries.

Relations between Israel and Canada “have rarely been as warm” as they have been under the current Conservative government, which has helped the ambassador immensely in her role.

“As I said in my interview with the magazine, the relationship between our countries is exceptional. It was there when I came [to Canada]. It was my job to bring this relationship even closer,” she said.

“And there were so many opportunities to do this. Everybody acknowledged the fact that [Israel] is a start-up nation… we have shared values and so much in common. Even with this, it takes time and it’s a process to build on the existing relationships with politicians and ministers and also with Canadians as a whole.”

Ziv noted how her work extends beyond the boundaries of Ottawa and the halls of power in Parliament. She also travels extensively throughout the country, meeting with universities, working with granting councils, and liaising with the premiers and legislatures of all the provinces and territories.

Her work, Ziv said, is “based on the fact that there is so much commonality between Canada and Israel in all areas.”

As of last week, the ambassador was unsure when her superiors in Israel’s foreign ministry would be calling to let her know her exact end date in Canada and who her replacement will be.

In the meantime, she continues to work a full schedule to bring Canadians and Israelis closer together.

“As I look back at 2012, we had a very busy year with visits from [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in March, [Israeli President] Shimon Peres in May and many other [Israeli diplomats and Knesset members] who came on working visits,” she said.

“This is a sign of what kind of special relationship we have now with Canada, and it will continue.”

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