TORONTO — Two high-profile Jewish Liberals have thrown their support behind the Conservative candidate in the Feb. 13 byelection in Thornhill.
Susan Kadis, who represented the riding as a Liberal MP from 2004 to 2008, and Joel Hertz, vice-chair of the York Region District School Board, have endorsed Tory hopeful Gila Martow in the provincial vote.
“I believe in Gila,” Kadis to The CJN. “I believe in her capacity to bring the issues Thornhill cares about to the forefront. She has that strong desire and dedication to our community.”
Asked about a Liberal endorsing a Conservative, Kadis said, “I think it really speakers to her character, integrity and commitment she’s shown to our community.”
Kadis herself sought the provincial Liberal nomination in Thornhill in 2003, but was defeated by Mario Racco, who won and served as an MPP until 2007. Racco is the husband of the current Liberal candidate in the byelection, Vaughan city councillor Sandra Yeung Racco.
In 2006, Kadis withdrew her support for then-federal Liberal leadership hopeful Michael Ignatieff after he accused Israel of committing war crimes in Lebanon. Kadis later endorsed Bob Rae.
In an email to The CJN, Hertz said: “I believe Gila is the best person for the position of Thornhill MPP. She is extremely hard-working, very aware of the riding’s needs and excellent in communicating. That she is Jewish cannot but help her in a riding that is 40 per cent Jewish.
“I am normally a strong Liberal, federally and provincially,” Hertz continued. “However, in this byelection, I am making a selection not based on party, but based on the candidates.”
Yeung Racco downplayed the issue, telling The CJN she has been endorsed by other Liberals, including former MP Elinor Caplan and former Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ontario Liberals in the last election.
Also supporting Martow are Aaron Blumenfeld and Ira Walfish, advocates for public funding of Jewish day schools.
While government help for faith-based private schools is not a front-burner issue in this election, “it will be far better served down the road with the election of Gila Martow, who will not be shy about advocating for the issue,” Blumenfeld and Walfish said in a Jan. 27 statement.
Meanwhile, Martow’s Facebook page was scrubbed of an anti-Islamic group of which she had been a member.
The CJN noticed her membership in “Stop the creation of an Islamic State within Israel” hours after its Jan. 28 interview with her. The group was created in late December by Meir Weinstein, head of the militant Jewish Defence League in Canada.
After The CJN asked Kadis about the link, it was purged from Martow’s Facebook page.
In a subsequent email, Martow's spokesperson, Ari Laskin explained that Martow “is added to Facebook groups frequently. Due to the nature of groups on Facebook, one must opt out of the group and can be added by anyone at any time.”
Martow “is committed to representing all residents in this diverse riding,” Laskin added.
Hertz later wrote to say that while he supports Martow, he is “not in favour” of the JDL. “There is a limit to ‘just because it is Jewish, it is OK.’”