“It's interesting when Conservatives go off their talking points and start speaking their mind...and disturbing.”
Thus spake MP Pat Martin (representing Winnipeg Centre for the NDP since 1993) yesterday afternoon on my Facebook wall. He was referring to recent effusings from Conservative Party of Canada MP Wai Young (Vancouver South) to attendees at Harvest City Church, a non-denominational Christian congregation in her riding.
Publicly revealing her peculiar understanding of the Christian Bible and applying it to recent Conservative Party of Canada initiatives, Ms. Young felt compelled to claim that “(w)e will always act and do the right thing.”
On behalf of the governing Conservatives Ms. Young could claim, “We believe that Jesus served, he saved, but he acted as well. And it’s because of these three things that his legacy has lasted over these millennia, over time.”
Upping the bells on the outrage-meter, Ms. Young continued:
“I want to share with you what I think about what our government is doing in the same vein. Jesus served and acted to always do the right thing, not the most popular thing and we know all the stories about the Bible that share with us about that. I want to let you know that our government will stand firm...
“We’ve done that recently by protecting Canadians. I mentioned the Victims’ Bill of Rights. We’ve strengthened the consequences for crime and dangerous offenders every turn where possible. We’ve enacted Bill C-51, which the media say is over-reaching and everything else.”
Needless to say, there is not much that I can add to the ridicule that has been levelled at Ms. Young and the CPC in the hours since her comments hit the Aether. It is right and proper to condemn nonsense when it is uttered, irrespective of the political underpinnings that such remarks issue from. It’s honest to call a spade a proverbial spade; or, more pointedly, to condemn cynical religious posturing for political ends in Canada’s houses of worship when they occur.
Of course, the taint of evangelical Christianity has long haunted the current iteration of Canada’s nominally Conservative Party.
Since getting hijacked by Reform Party populists and eventually the Canadian Alliance, today’s CPC is largely controlled by the Johnny-come-latelies that articulated the reactionary Weltanschauung of the likes of Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper and their ilk.
And they have always had a soft spot for the eager support they received from God-fearin’, gun-totin’, abortion-denyin', Bible-thumpin’, reborn-in-the-blood-of-the-Lamb Christians that have arrived in droves at polling stations across this land of ours to keep these cats in office for far too long.
Now, before you form a posse and come for me with a rope, let me assure you that I am not one of the guys that will tell you that religion has absolutely no place in the political life of our country. Some of Canada’s finest parliamentarians have been Christians, or Jews, or Muslims. And, in my view, it has been often the direct result of mature engagement with their faith traditions that have resulted in some mighty fine legislation being introduced by MPs of faith.
Regrettably, these days it is too often exclusively Christian religious values that are touted as pre-eminent. Often times, one wonders if the evangelical rightwing of Canadian Christendom feels a certain entitlement to espousing its views and understandings of the world at the expense of other faith traditions or at the expense of those who share no faith tradition at all.
Frankly, even other Christians find the CPC’s Christian posturing off-putting — so, how to put it, immodest, even un-Christian. But that’s the way some of the good Christians of the CPC roll.
One thing is certain: It is absurd to make claims about “what Jesus would do” in the post-modern, arguably post-democratic, Canadian political context. It’s even more absurd to speculate that Jesus would have been down with acts of parliament that would limit Canadian rights and freedoms, or that he would encourage trade initiatives that would make disenfranchised pawns and beggars of a Canada rich in God-created natural resources.
Here’s to the hope, then, that as the election campaign grinds on (and the writ has yet to be dropped, after all), that we will get to hear more from the backbench members of our Parliament.
It’s somehow refreshing to hear something other than the robotic recitations of talking points issued to all by the kids in the short pants — even if it is scurrilous cynicism and rubbish of the rankest grade.
At least we’ll know who not to vote for (or, more positively Christian: who to pray for) when our chance to mark the ballot comes in October.
— Jeffrey Loewen is a Kelowna-based writer to plays music by day and politics by night