One of the underlying strengths of the Canada-Israel bilateral relationship lies in extensive people-to-people ties. Historically, the Canadian Jewish community has acted as an important bridge between Canada and Israel. Indeed, Israel as a concept and even a “spiritual” homeland has had an increasingly important impact in shaping the identity of Canadian Jews. However, support for Israel is not just a Jewish value, it is a Canadian value. Proud of Israel’s accomplishments over the last six decades, Canadians – Jewish and otherwise – continue to celebrate the shared values that bind both democracies.
Canada and Israel are both family-oriented societies that pursue peace to ensure a nourishing environment for the next generation. Both are not only concerned with building a better future for their own citizens but also with proactive, international initiatives to solve the most pressing problems facing the world and cooperative responses to crises that threaten the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations. As world leaders in science, medicine, agriculture and innovation, Canada and Israel are uniquely equipped to effectively mobilize vital assistance to address these challenges. Reflecting this shared commitment, both countries are part of the Grand Challenges coalition that seeks to develop and support innovative solutions to urgent world health issues.
As vibrant multi-cultural democracies dedicated to the rule of law and protection of minority rights, the two countries also share a great deal in common at the domestic level. Both countries welcome, protect and celebrate the cultures of minorities, guaranteeing equal rights and freedoms for all – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Both Canada and Israel also share the policy of two official languages – English and French in Canada, and Hebrew and Arabic in Israel – exemplifying the institutionalized inclusiveness to which both societies aspire. Given all of these shared values, it is unsurprising that Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws were modeled on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Canada-Israel bilateral relationship continues to flourish and expand today as it has under the leadership of successive Prime Ministers since the Jewish State was established in 1948. Canada and Israel have developed a long list of formal and informal ties, advancing mutual interests and common objectives. This has led to frequent consultation and partnership on global issues based on shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The Canada-Israel friendship continues to manifest itself in burgeoning economic, scientific, medical, cultural, political, defence, juridical, agricultural and trade ties between the two countries. There are also a number of sub-national agreements between Israel and Canadian provinces – including Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario – and leading academic institutions in both countries.
Canada-Israel bilateral trade has more than doubled, from $507 million in 1996 to $1.4 billion in 2010, since the inception of the Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement. CIFTA was Canada’s first free trade accord extending beyond North America, eliminating tariffs on all industrial products manufactured in Canada and Israel in addition to a limited number of agricultural and fisheries products. Between 1999 and 2003 the agreement was expanded to include preferential standing for many of Canada’s top agricultural and agri-food exports to Israel.
In October 2010 the governments of Canada and Israel announced a plan to expand, update and modernize CIFTA with a focus on bringing significant economic, health and environmental benefits to both countries through the commercialization of science, innovation, technology, and research and development.