2018-2019 University of Victoria CAMERA Fellow Misha Yaroslavsky

Justin Trudeau has been facing a major scandal for his alleged role in the SNC Lavalin matter – thankfully, our country is having an open discussion about it. Jodie Wilson, the former Attorney General, accused Trudeau of helping SNC Lavalin evade possible criminal prosecution for their possible corrupt dealings in Libya.

Wilson claims that Trudeau interfered in her role as Attorney General by forcing her to waver SNC’s possible crimes. She decided not to, and as a result, she was (according to her) required to resign as Attorney General.

Whether this story is true or not, Canada’s democracy is clearly thriving and strong – the media is able to independently report this incident, the citizens of this country are able to protest the Trudeau government, and the incident could potentially end Trudeau’s future electoral ambitions. This is what makes Canada a functioning democracy.

Others are not so lucky

Many people around the world are not granted the freedom inherent to a democratic society. In the Middle East, almost every nation lacks democratic freedoms. Iran, for example, is led by an Ayatollah who imposes a ruthless dictatorship over his people. Despite their elections, they prove to be meaningless, as the Ayatollah has so much power.

He uses the revolutionary guard to implement restrictive religious rulings; for example, he requires women to cover up with veils, despite protests in Iran against the policy. He has also implemented rules that sanction the murder of LGBTQ+ individuals simply for their sexuality. In September 2011, they murdered three men on “homosexuality charges.”

Syria is ruled by Bashar Al-Assad, a president who massacred his own people to prevent protests against him. The chaos of the Syrian war has devastated the country entirely and has created a massive refugee crisis that has driven almost a third of the country away.

The Syrian civil war has devastated the country and perpetuated a significant refugee crisis (independent.co.uk).

In Gaza, the officially-elected Hamas government, which is now an autocratic regime, is suppressing dissent in their territory. Recently, after major uprisings, the Hamas government cracked down with violent arrests and illegal detentions. The Hamas government is notorious for murdering those who oppose their rule and stifling dissent.

For example, in March, Hamas beat and murdered dissenters, human rights activists, and journalists. In fact, they continue to detain seven Palestinian journalists. Their government is also listed as an official terrorist organization, making them incompatible to democratic principles.

These countries have no democratic rights; dissent and minority communities are subjugated to gruesome treatment, such as stoning, unfair prison sentences, and even death. There is only one country in the Middle East that is unique. That country is Israel – a country founded on democratic principles.

Israel’s laws include multiple measures that keep the executive branch from overreaching its power, and the country’s Supreme Court frequently challenges government decisions. These are just some of the values that Israel is founded on.

In Israel today, the country’s prime minister is facing a similar corruption scandal to Canada’s. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is being accused of various corruption scandals and has been indicted. Whether this is true or not, just as in Canada, Israel enjoys the freedoms of a democratic state. The media has the authority to criticize Netanyahu, the people have the freedom to protest, the Prime Minister is innocent before proven guilty, and the country enjoys honest democratic elections.

Both Canadians and Israelis have a special relationship with their governments because of the fact that these nations are liberal democracies. Both countries grant equal rights to their citizens, have fair elections, and always hold their leaders accountable. This level of respect for democratic institutions makes Canada and Israel successful nations. The people’s interests are respected; therefore, both nations are capable of moving forward.

Contributed by president of the CAMERA-supported group UVic Friends of Israel and 2018-2019 University of Victoria CAMERA Fellow Misha Yaroslavsky.

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