As we Canadians prepare to go to the polls next week, we need to make ourselves aware of where the major political parties stand on the most significant issues of the day. The six parties we will see on our ballots are the currently governing Liberal Party, the Conservatives, the New Democrats, the Greens, the Bloc Québécois (only in Québec of course), and the hopefully named People’s Party, led by former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier. Despite the number of parties, we recognize that only the Liberals and Conservatives are likely to form a government, whether minority or majority. While other countries have had governing coalitions of two or more parties, our political leaders are severely allergic to this possibility, going into anaphylactic shock at even the thought of collaborating with the “enemy.”
What are the issues? When a current government is up for re-election, the major issue must be its record in leading the country. Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals been up to the task of governing? Have they fulfilled the promises they made two years ago? Are Canadians better off than they were in 2019? For most of us the answer to that last question is likely to be no, we’re not better off. Admittedly, of course, the COVID pandemic and its associated dislocations are not Trudeau’s fault. At issue is whether he has addressed them with wisdom and justice. Would the Conservatives have done better had they been in power? These are questions that voters will need to answer before they cast their votes.
COVID vaccinations are rapidly becoming an issue that many of us had not anticipated a short time ago. Should workplaces mandate vaccinations for their employees? For some this is a no brainer. Why should we not want a safer workplace with our colleagues properly inoculated against the worst effects of the virus? For others, mandating vaccination is a threat to our personal liberties and, for some groups, to their religious freedom. They fear being singled out for “persecution” by employers and government alike. In general, the Liberals and the New Democrats are more open to mandatory vaccines for government employees and for some people working in federally regulated industries. The Conservatives prefer to implement frequent testing for such workers, while the People’s Party opposes mandating either vaccination or testing.
In broad strokes
Whatever their views on vaccinations, many Christians judge that the Liberals have shown themselves to be less than fully committed to protecting the religious freedom of Canadians. It was not long ago that Trudeau’s government required would-be recipients of Canada Summer Jobs funding to attest to their acceptance of the party’s interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including “reproductive rights,” which effectively excluded pro-life organizations. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole differs little from Trudeau in his pro-choice credentials but promises to “defend conscience rights for our incredible men and women on the frontlines of our health care system.” While O’Toole is, of course, untested, he may be more flexible than Trudeau on this divisive issue.
As is generally the case, there is no obvious choice that is more Christian than the others. While the Liberals and the New Democrats are usually stronger on care for the poor and vulnerable in our society, their dogmatism on the so-called social issues, such as abortion, euthanasia and gender issues, makes them suspect to followers of the older faith traditions. Similarly, while Conservatives often, but not always, manifest a greater appreciation for the diversity of nonstate communities in Canada, they can just as easily appear insensitive to marginalized groups and to the physical environment.
Voting one way or the other will not usher in God’s kingdom, nor would we expect it to. We will thus likely vote in one of two ways: either for the party we think will do the least damage to the country, or for the best features of one party while hoping and praying that they will outweigh its negatives. Whichever way we vote, let us not forget that the destiny of Canada finally lies within God’s hands.
Editorial Content: An election carries our hope for the world
“An election offers an occasion to consider the political implications of our values,” the Mennonite Central Committee’s Election Resource Companion Guide says. It’s “an opportunity for our faith convictions and hopes for the world to be reflected in the public good. It can offer us a renewed perspective about how we show up in the world everyday – especially when it comes to divisive topics.”
How? By being aware of groupthink, MCC says; by doing the prep work; by identifying partiality; and by listening well. Find out more here.