OTTAWA – Conservative MP Mark Adler has defended himself in a Jewish newspaper after it was alleged he barred Liberal MP Irwin Cotler from an event in Israel during the prime minister’s recent trip.
Although he does not deny the incident, Adler writes in a letter to Canada’s most-read weekly Jewish newspaper, the Canadian Jewish News, that he was “disappointed” in the media coverage and said the story attempted to pit Israel’s supporters against each other.
“I was disappointed to see the media coverage last week about the private welcome reception I co-hosted for some members of the Canadian delegation in Israel during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s recent visit,” Adler wrote in the letter published Monday.
“The national media story based on an unnamed source regrettably attempts to pit one supporter of Israel against another supporter. I co-hosted this event, outside of the official program for the historic visit to Israel, and there was no taxpayer money involved.”
Global News reported last week that Adler told Cotler – a well-known human rights activist – he was not welcome at the event on Jan.19. Rabbis said they heard about the incident and were upset that Cotler was not invited to attend – one even calling it senseless hatred.
Adler did not respond to interview requests about the incident. When reporters approached him after a committee meeting, he refused to answer questions and took a phone call from a constituent while standing in the middle of the room.
Cotler also declined to talk about the incident.
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The York Centre MP also caused a stir on the prime minister’s trip when he was caught on video asking one of Harper’s staff members if he could get the “million-dollar shot” – a photo with the prime minister in front of the Western Wall. He later said it was a joke.
WATCH: Conservative MP Mark Adler in Jerusalem pleas with one of the prime minister’s aides to be allowed in the restricted area to have his photo taken.
Adler goes on to say in the letter the trip to Israel was incredibly emotional for him.
“During my speech at this welcome reception, I even broke down as I spoke about my father, the only survivor from his family after the Holocaust, who always wanted to visit Israel but never made it before he passed,” he wrote.