MONTREAL — Jonathan Goldbloom kicked off his bid for the Liberal nomination in Mount Royal with a plea to seize an opportunity to improve relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada that has not been possible for a long while.
“Changing attitudes, particularly among young Quebecers, and the election of the Couillard and Coderre administrations means that for the first time in decades, we can move beyond the national unity debate and focus on rebuilding our city and our province, and on giving our children interesting opportunities and compelling reasons to stay in Quebec,” he told a standing-room only audience of about 150 in the YM-YWHA auditorium on Sept. 22, referring to the Liberal administration of Premier Philippe Couillard and that of former federal Liberal cabinet minister Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
The MC for the event was riding executive member Marjorie Michel.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not up to the task of repairing the ties between Quebec and Ottawa, Goldbloom suggested.
During Harper’s tenure, Quebec has been inadequately represented in Ottawa. “It’s not enough that the minister responsible for Montreal is the deputy from Roberval,” he said.
After many years as a backroom strategist for both the federal and the provincial Liberal parties, Goldbloom, 58, officially announced that he wants to be the Liberal candidate in the federal election next year in the riding that Irwin Cotler has held since 1999. Cotler announced in February that he would not be seeking re-election in Mount Royal, which has been Liberal for 75 years.
Goldbloom, a public relations consultant, is the second to seek the nomination. Côte St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather announced that he’s in the race back in March.
Cotler’s longtime chief of staff, Howard Liebman, said he is “mulling” over a bid for the nomination, even though he stated in February he would not do so because of his young family.
Former longtime Toronto member of Parliament Bob Rae, interim Liberal leader between 2011 and 2013, gave his wholehearted support to Goldbloom’s candidacy, praising his wisdom, integrity and ability to stay calm in the midst of difficulty. Goldbloom ran Rae’s unsuccessful bid for the party leadership in 2006.
His father, Victor Goldbloom, also spoke on his behalf, recalling that his son, from the age of 10, was politically astute, joining him during his campaigning for the first time in 1965-66.
Over the years, he said, he benefited from Jonathan’s counsel.
The elder Goldbloom, 91, was the member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee until 1979 and Quebec’s first Jewish cabinet minister. An interfaith dialogue pioneer, he is also a past Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec region president.
Speaking to a diverse audience, Jonathan Goldbloom said, “While remaining a strong supporter of Israel, we need to take steps to restore Canada’s international stature. It is shocking that Stephen Harper is refusing to participate in [the Sept. 23] UN conference on climate change.”
He added: “We also need a federal government that consults and builds consensus, that focuses on bringing Canadians together, not on creating wedge issues.”
Rae stressed that if Goldbloom is to win the nomination, his supporters must each sign up at least five new party members and ensure that they turn out at the nomination meeting. (No date has been set.) Goldbloom later suggested that that number be increased to 10 each.
As for policy, Goldbloom said the federal government must invest more in research and development, as well as in infrastructure, in Quebec and elsewhere in the country.
“Our gross expenditure on [R&D] dropped from two per cent of GDP in 2006 to 1.7 per cent in 2011. Countries such as South Korea, Japan, Germany, Finland, Denmark and the United States are all investing between 50 per cent and 100 per cent more in R&D than we are.”
Goldbloom listed his personal accomplishments, both as a professional and as a volunteer, as from “keeping the Shriners’ [Hospital] in Montreal to leading the fight for access to English schools, to securing the right for psychologists to diagnose children with autism.
“I have demonstrated that I can bring people together in common cause to make things better.”
Among his other supporters cited on his campaign website are Quebec Liberal Sen. Joan Fraser; Mount Royal resident Simon Bensimon; retired Liberal senator and Jewish community leader Yoine Goldstein; Jack Jedwab, executive vice-president of the Association of Canadian Studies; Dr. Nicolas Steinmetz, former head of the McGill University Health Centre; former St. Henri-Westmount MP and party president Donald Johnston; and former Notre-Dame-de-Grâce MP Marlene Jennings.
Among those in the audience cited by Goldbloom were former Liberal MNAs John Ciaccia and Lawrence Bergman, former Liberal MP and ambassador to Israel David Berger and current Quebec MP Alexandra Mendes.
Also present was Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron, who is a Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs board member.
“Jonathan is a friend, but I am not endorsing him. As a rabbi, I can’t endorse anybody,” Rabbi Poupko told The CJN.