August 22, 2012
Title: Trade ties underlie Canada-Israel defence rapprochement
Sub-title: Possible aircraft sales, naval upgrade work and other trade items provide sweeteners to closer ties.
Defence sector companies could be key winners in Canada’s Harper Government, ramped up stance on the war on terror. According to documents obtained under Access to Information Legislation by a university researcher, Defence Minister Peter MacKay recently equated an attack on Israel with an attack on Canada, in private discussions with Israeli Major-General Gabi Ashkenazi.
Canada’s has long been a big backer of Israel’s hard line on Iran. However MacKay’s latest assurances are controversial, as another Conservative minister, Peter Kent, got his hands slapped for making similar comments publicly last year. Both the Canadian and Israeli governments have withheld comment on the matter.
That said, the reports could not have come at a better time for defence sector officials in both countries, who have long been seeking ways to increase trade ties. For example Elsira Electronic Systems Ltd. has been angling to bid for work the Halifax Class Frigate upgrade program. In addition, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated interest in water-bombers made by Montreal-based Bombardier.
According to Michael Martin, president of Valley Associates, which represents several Israeli companies in Canada, including MaromDolphin, Rabintex, Fibrotex and Israeli Military Industries, rapprochement between the two countries is not surprising. “Canada’s relationship with Israel has always been strong and dates back to the Pearson (a former Canadian Prime Minister) days,” said Martin. “In addition, ties are particularly close between the two countries’ special forces, and Israel was an important supplier to Canada in its Afghanistan deployment. That those ties would lead to increased trade between the two should come as no surprise. For our part we expect to announce new contracts for our customers during the coming 12 to 24 months.”
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