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Wild Rose MP returns from ‘life-changing’ trip

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Monday, Feb 10, 2014 06:00 am

Blake Richards visited the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the historical birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, during his week-long Middle East trip with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Blake Richards visited the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, the historical birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, during his week-long Middle East trip with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
SUBMITTED/For Rocky View Publishing

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Wild Rose MP Blake Richards called his seven-day trip to Middle East with Prime Minister Stephen Harper a “life-changing experience.”

Richards – chair of the Parliamentary Tourism Caucus - which was along for Harpers first official visit to Israel to help promote trade between the two allies – was moved by a two-day experience at a refuge camp in Jordan, he said.

“We arrived as several hundred refuges came to the camp,” Richards said.

“They had walked across the desert with all the belongings they could carry. It’s really a life-changing experience, it puts a lot of things into perspective and shows us how lucky we are to live in a country like Canada.”

Richard’s tour included five days in Israel and the West Bank where the two countries counterparts discussed promoting trade and increasing tourism.

“Progress was made in terms of relations and the expansion of trade agreements,” Richards said.

Israel is Canada’s fourth-largest merchandise export market in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2011, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Israel was valued at $1.38 billion. Canada’s exports to Israel - valued at nearly $400 million in 2011 - consist primarily of precious metals and stones, electrical machinery, sulphurs, paper and paper products, and medical instruments. Canada’s imports from Israel - valued at $982 million in 2011 - consist primarily of pharmaceutical products, electrical machinery, precious metals and stones, machinery and medical instruments.

Richards was on hand to listen to Harper’s now infamous speech to the Knesset -Israel parliament - where he was heckled by two MPs over statements they believed to be anti-Semitic, but later received a standing ovation from the caucus.


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