Thanks to an alert blogger.
In addition to the politicians, a delegation of 208 cultural, business and spiritual leaders has joined Harper for this trip, which also includes stops in West Bank and Jordan. The delegation includes 21 rabbis, several dozen more affiliated with Jewish organizations, such as B’Nai Brith Canada, the Jewish National Fund of Canada and the Jewish Federations of Canada. Other religious organizations are also represented, such as Crossroads Christian Communications, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Canada and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada. Business executives are also part of the delegation, including those from Suncor, Bombardier and Air Canada.
Don Simmonds, Chairman of the Board Crossroads Christian Communications Inc.
Rev. David Wells, General Superintentent Pentecostal Assemblies Of Canada
Don Hutchinson, Vice President, General Legal Counsel The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Rev. (and Mrs.) David Hearn, President Christian & Missionary Alliance Canada
Rev. Stephen Jones, President Fellowship of Evangelical Baptists in Canada
Shawn Ketcheson, pastor Trinity Bible Church, Ottawa
Harper’s spokesman said some of the organizations and community leaders who are on the trip helped choose other delegates.
“In a delegation of this size you will always find different views, including views you do not agree with. Members of the delegation do not speak for the Government of Canada,” Jason MacDonald said in an email to CBC News.
All 208 delegation members, plus the official delegation, have their accommodation paid for by the government.
Thirty members of the accompanying delegation have their travel paid for as well as their accommodation. The 31-person official delegation — including Harper and his wife Laureen — travel on the prime minister’s plane.
About 30 members of the delegation are religious leaders, while around 50 appear to represent Jewish or other religious organizations in Canada. Many work with religious organizations as well as represent Canadian law firms or businesses.
The above evangelical leaders don’t speak for many Canadian evangelicals either. I suspect some just think they do. All of the above organizations represented belong to The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
I don’t see Catholic, Methodist, United, Anglican, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, and moderate Baptist delegates. I fail to see how going on a Middle East trip with a PM is not perceived as pandering toward branches of Christian Zionism and as political.
Update: National Post columnist Fr. Raymond de Souza is Catholic. He was on the junket. He is in good standing with the church and serves as a parish priest and chaplain. He is well known in The Conservative Party.
Update: Don Simmonds uses 100 Huntley Street to praise Steven Harper, calls the trip exciting and history in the making, and talks about how proud he is to be Canadian.