Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay arrived in Israel Friday with a large business and academic delegation coincidentally on the day that Canada decided to cut off ties with Iran.

This is the first visit by a Montreal mayor in nearly 20 years.

The 50-plus delegation also includes heads of the Montreal chamber of commerce, hi-tech entrepreneurs, textile and cosmetic factory owners, the assistant deans at McGill University and the Université de Montreal and a number of academics.

“Israeli culture is very similar to our own,” Tremblay said.

“We hope to develop sustainable, mutually beneficial business ties. We can get inspiration from the Israeli innovation model that binds the private sector, the universities and government offices.”

Israel’s consul-general in Montreal, Yoel Lion, said the trip began to come together after Tremblay read the 2009 book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

“A visit like this with such a large delegation strengthens even more the existing connection between Israel and Canada, Quebec and Montreal,” he said.

“We have a lot to offer them and I am glad that we succeeded in convincing the mayor and the delegation members to come learn from our experience and promote cooperation in academics, innovation and hitech.”

During the six-day trip, the delegation will meet President Shimon Peres, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov and leading figures in hi-tech and Israeli academia.

Tremblay will also meet with the mayors of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba.

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