Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith has returned from a week-long trip to Israel as part of an outreach program through the Centre for Israeli and Jerusalem Affairs.
CIJA organizes about 20 trips a year however this was the first time they invited eight members of Ontario’s provincial parliament from all three parties. Four of the MPP’s spouses including Tawnya Smith took in the trip as well.
The trip which is not paid for by taxpayers, acts as an opportunity for CIJA to provide an avenue of outreach to grow business and partnerships with Canada.
Smith who is the Critic for Citizenship and Immigration and Chair of the Ethnic Community Outreach effort said they spent time in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He said they had a great opportunity with a tour guide and the CIJA host to understand the complex political dynamic in Israel plus take in the country rich in history and architecture. He visited the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and the parameter wall separating the West Bank in south Jerusalem. Smith met with the Canadian ambassador to Israel Deborah Lyons, the member of the Knesset, Sharren Haskel at the Israeli Parliament, Palestinian authorities, business leaders, innovators and healthcare officials.
Ranked fifth among the most innovative countries, Smith said he left with a better understanding of how Israel became so successful at becoming a leader in entrepreneurship and start-ups.
He said what he found remarkable was the vast amount of foreign capital that is ‘pouring’ into Israel, funding new business. MPP Smith explained how he would like to see his colleagues take what’s happening in Israel and apply it to business in Ontario.
He pointed to how the Quinte area is starting to see it with groups like QuinteVation, Trenval Business Development Corporation, Community Development Futures Corporation and the Innovation Centre in Prince Edward County.
When asked, Smith touched on how, tragically during their visit on January 9, a driver who may have been an ISIS sympathizer plowed a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring at least 10.