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Christian activists capturing Tory races

Some in party worry new riding nominees will reinforce notion of 'hidden agenda'

By GLORIA GALLOWAY

Friday, May 27, 2005 Updated at 4:28 AM EDT

From Friday's Globe and Mail


Ottawa — Christian activists have secured Conservative nominations in clusters of ridings from Vancouver to Halifax -- a political penetration that has occurred even as the party tries to distance itself from hard-line social conservatism.

At least three riding associations in Nova Scotia, four in British Columbia, and one in suburban Toronto have nominated candidates with ties to groups like Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes same-sex marriage.

But organizers say many more will be on the ballot during the next federal election, a feat achieved by persuading parishioners, particularly new Canadians, to join the party and vote for recommended candidates.


Some Conservatives argue that the selection of a large number of candidates from the religious right is an unfortunate turn for a party that was accused in last year's election campaign of harbouring a socially conservative "hidden agenda."

"The difficulty, from a party perspective, is that it begins to hijack the other agendas that parties have," said Ross Haynes, who lost the Conservative nomination in the riding of Halifax to one of three "Christian, pro-family people" recommended by a minister at a religious rally this spring in Kentville, N.S.


Candidates who are running on single issues such as opposition to same-sex marriage "probably can't get elected because they certainly don't represent any mainstream population view," Mr. Haynes said.


Others within the party say they are extremely concerned and wished the party leaders had been more involved in the nominations.

But Tristan Emmanuel -- the Presbyterian minister whose endorsement at the Kentville rally aided the nominations of Andrew House in Halifax, Rakesh Khosla in Halifax West and Paul Francis in Sackville-Eastern Shore -- makes no apologies.

"It's time we stopped apologizing and started defending who we are," he said. "The evangelical community in Canada, by and large, and socially conservative Catholics, are saying we have been far too heavenly minded and thus we have been of no earthly value for far too long, on too many fronts."

Mr. Emmanuel runs the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre, which teaches people of his faith to become political. He is reluctant to say how many adherents have obtained Conservative nominations because he is afraid the news media will portray the campaign as the infiltration of the party by "right-wing fanatics."

But "it's happening everywhere, especially in urban ridings and in Ontario," he said. "Even in Toronto we have incredible people from the immigrant community who are stepping up to the plate who are just awesome candidates and sincere Christians."

Mr. Emmanuel said Christians have been allowed to believe that "to be a genuine citizen of the nation we need to check our religion at the political door. And I'm saying no, that's fundamentally flawed. You may participate in the public square as a religious individual and be not ashamed."

John Reynolds, the retiring Conservative MP who ran the party's nomination process, said the fact that social conservatives have won his party's nominations is simply a function of democracy.

"I don't believe in appointments and neither does our party, so we get some real battles," Mr. Reynolds said. "People say, 'Can't you do something about these guys running?' and I say 'Hey, you can do something: go out and sign up some more people.' "

That said, Mr. Reynolds is offended by attempts to paint the Conservative party as a harbour for religious zealots.

"There were three dozen Liberals who voted with us on the same-sex thing," he said. "Nobody is going after them and saying, 'Look at these far-right Christians that got into the Liberal Party.' "

If reporters who write about Christian fundamentalists taking over his party were to "insert the word Jew everywhere you've put Christian, do you think they would let you print it?" he asked. "I doubt it."

Darrel Reid, the party's candidate in Richmond, B.C., is a past president of Focus on the Family. Cindy Silver, who will run for the Tories in North Vancouver, was the executive director of the Christian Legal Fellowship for two years in the 1990s. Marc Dalton in New Westminster-Burnaby has been the pastor of a community church in Burnaby.

Mr. Reid, a former chief of staff to then Reform leader Preston Manning, said it is easy to label a person with his background a single-issue candidate.

"But the reason I entered this nomination contest is because I am really concerned about the direction our government is going," Mr. Reid said.

"In politics, people call you names. And sometimes it's not very pretty, but in the meantime I'm going to talk about the big issues and marriage is one issue out there. I know Canadians are concerned about it, a lot of people are talking about it, but it's just one of a whole range of issues that I went into politics to discuss."

Ms. Silver, a lawyer in the federal Justice Department, objects to being labelled a Christian candidate. "That's a form of discrimination," she said. "That's putting them in a class of people and ascribing to them the characteristics of that class without ever giving them a chance to stand on their own merits."

But other candidates clearly relied on their churches to promote their nomination.

Rondo Thomas beat former Conservative MP René Soetens for the nomination in Ajax, on the eastern edge of Toronto. Dr. Thomas is a top official with the Canada Christian College, which is run by Charles McVety, a senior director of the Defend Marriage Coalition.

"The Defend Marriage Coalition engaged in a concerted effort to help pro-marriage candidates become nominated," Dr. McVety said.

"There is a desire to see pro-marriage nominees as candidates right across the country. We know that we have 141 pro-marriage MPs now and our hope is to achieve a pro-marriage Parliament."

There has been no specific drive to infiltrate the Conservatives, Dr. McVety said. Some religious Liberals have been nominated as well. But the Tories have taken the lion's share, he said, probably because of the party's opposition to changing the definition of marriage.

Like Mr. Emmanuel, Dr. McVety expresses no uneasiness with his efforts.

"The distortion of the separation of church and state has driven people of faith out of leadership and this is very wrong," he said.

And now that the government has decided to redefine marriage, faith leaders have been forced to urge their congregations to mobilize politically, Dr. McVety said.

As a result, they "are typically signing up as members of political parties, some of them for the first time in their lives. Many of them even signing up for political parties that they've never voted for in their lives before."
 

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I don't think that this comes as a surprise to anybody. What they're trying to do is emulate the success of the right in the united states, but they don't realize that these things are what makes canadians nervous. Surely Harper can see that Canadians overwhelmingly don't like Bush.
 

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Mr. Haney(Cruz) for Pres.
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Yes, it's similar to the "religious right" in the US, but what works in the US will not work in Canada. The US is much more religious.
 

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BTW, I was being sarcastic up there.

Anyway, I don't think that these guys will be fair comparisons to their ilk in the US. For one thing they've got more legitimate beefs. Secondly this country is decidedly more liberal than the US even on the right and I doubt these guys are any exception.
 

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More liberal? How so? They want to follow the US wherever they go.
 

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LooselogInThePeg said:
BTW, I was being sarcastic up there.

Anyway, I don't think that these guys will be fair comparisons to their ilk in the US. For one thing they've got more legitimate beefs. Secondly this country is decidedly more liberal than the US even on the right and I doubt these guys are any exception.
No, these guys are surely an exception:

rt_0891 said:
At least three riding associations in Nova Scotia, four in British Columbia, and one in suburban Toronto have nominated candidates with ties to groups like Focus on the Family, a Christian organization that opposes same-sex marriage.
Any candidate that elects to affiliate themselves with a far right, gay bashing organization like Focus on the Family does not have a legitimate beef. I'll respect their right to freedom of speech. However, it doesn't mean that what they stand for, gay hate (and I'm not being too harsh, Focus on the Family represents gay hate), is a legitimate viewpoint.
 

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In just completely against any religious group promoting candidates. Religion and Politics must stay 100% seperate.
 

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oceanmdx said:
More liberal? How so? They want to follow the US wherever they go.
You mean to tell me that you disagree that Canada is more liberal than the US ?

Either way, allow me to clarify : I have yet to hear of any sizeable group of Christians pushing for the teaching of creation in the Canadian classroom as opposed to evolution. Maybe we'll call Canada more progressive then.

As far as these guys associating themselves with a group such as Focus on the Family, I visited the FotF site just to see what these guys had to say. Well, I saw the usual Christian proselytizing stuff but as far as gay bashing I beg to differ. I would definitely concede that they are against gay marriage (I figured as much before I even went there) but there was certainly no hint of preaching violence against homosexuals. If that's gay bashing (it's not) then we are overly sensitive.

Nevertheless, I have nothing in common with these people. As such if the Conservatives only field candidates with this stance in my area I'll abstain from voting as none of the other parties have any appeal to me. It depends on just what these guys advocate though. If they are going to harp on about gay marriage then they can kiss my vote (and countless others) goodbye. If on the other hand they are going to base their campaigns on the promotion of some common sense in Parliament then I would consider them. Don't forget that although gay marriage is a contentious issue it is not the primary one to the majority of Canadians. Furthermore, I am satisfied that the Conservatives have no desire to claw back the rights of any group. They have already committed themselves to the adoption of civil unions for gays. For most Canadians (and I won't deny it, myself as well) this is satisfactory for the time being. Certainly no gay rights groups (or individuals probably either) will be content with this but as far as I'm concerned, if the right to a civil union for gays is at least achieved then I have far more pressing issues I'd like to see addressed. These candidates will not be able to stop at least that much. If however they start spouting about having any such legislation repealed then the voting public will likely shun them. As it stands civil unions at the very least are a done deal in this country. Since it's semantics to most people after that I submit that the public's attention will change focus.
 

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LooselogInThePeg said:
You mean to tell me that you disagree that Canada is more liberal than the US ?
Hell no, not Canada as a whole!!! It's only the religious zealots in the two countries that are similarly conservative.

Either way, allow me to clarify : I have yet to hear of any sizeable group of Christians pushing for the teaching of creation in the Canadian classroom as opposed to evolution. Maybe we'll call Canada more progressive then.
Just wait, they have to get to first base first (get elected), then Creationism will be next.

Furthermore, I am satisfied that the Conservatives have no desire to claw back the rights of any group.
This is where I differ from you. About a year ago, the Conservative MP for Abbotsford (I forget the guy's name) said "to heck with the Courts" with regard to the Charter of Rights. I know that since then they have had a policy convention, but once elected, Harper is not legally bound to those resolutions - he can do what he wants. He has been very dishonest on the whole issue of Charter Rights, and Harper has been very dishonest regarding his position on the war in Iraq. I don't trust the whole bunch of them.
 

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oceanmdx said:
Hell no, not Canada as a whole!!! It's only the religious zealots in the two countries that are similarly conservative.



Just wait, they have to get to first base first (get elected), then Creationism will be next.



This is where I differ from you. About a year ago, the Conservative MP for Abbotsford (I forget the guy's name) said "to heck with the Courts" with regard to the Charter of Rights. I know that since then they have had a policy convention, but once elected, Harper is not legally bound to those resolutions - he can do what he wants. He has been very dishonest on the whole issue of Charter Rights, and Harper has been very dishonest regarding his position on the war in Iraq. I don't trust the whole bunch of them.
Well Harper must be aware of the fact that to claw back this amendment would be political suicide. Frankly people are expecting him to put on a moderate face and if he blows it he knows perfectly well that it's the end of the Conservatives. There's no way he's going to allow that to happen.

As for creationism in the classroom....c'mon. lol. There's no way these guys would ever be able to get that in Canada. Again, Harper would never allow that to happen simply because it would be political suicide as well. In a private Christian school they can do it I suppose although I don't know any (nor have I ever met anyone) who actually takes Creationism literally. Most Christians are more than willing to accept that six days to bake up a fresh, still steaming world is an idea just a little too nutty to be taken literally.
 

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LooselogInThePeg said:
Well Harper must be aware of the fact that to claw back this amendment would be political suicide. Frankly people are expecting him to put on a moderate face and if he blows it he knows perfectly well that it's the end of the Conservatives. There's no way he's going to allow that to happen.

As for creationism in the classroom....c'mon. lol. There's no way these guys would ever be able to get that in Canada. Again, Harper would never allow that to happen simply because it would be political suicide as well. In a private Christian school they can do it I suppose although I don't know any (nor have I ever met anyone) who actually takes Creationism literally. Most Christians are more than willing to accept that six days to bake up a fresh, still steaming world is an idea just a little too nutty to be taken literally.
They (some of them) certainly would like to get creationism in the classroom. Are you suggesting that they don't believe in their religion?

Harper has done so many dumb things lately that I wouldn't be surprised.
 

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The US is much more religious than Canadians but it smuch more than that.The very right wing pentacostal christians in the US run the place. Our largest religion is Catholism....and no one goes and our largest protestant religion is United. United is VERY progressive and has been pushing for same-sex marriage for over a decade.
In Canada 8% of Canadians referred to themselves as "born again christians" while the rate in the US was 35%. A huge difference.
Americans also tend to see thing in more black and white while Canadians are more compramising. We don't have the moralistic dogma that is rampant in both Us government and society.
 

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Oceanmdx: I actually GO to a seperate school (READ: Roman Catholic; I just graduated a few days ago) and there are basically NO Catholics that take the story of creation literally. Very, very few Christians will. To continue to suggest that any sizable amount do is ridiculous. And this is from the perspective of somebody who is NOT Catholic, but has had countless opportunities to study the religion from inside the system.

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As far as 'Gay Bashing' goes, apparently in this country if you disagree with allowing the title of Marriage onto a Same-sex Union, then you are bashing homosexuals. Civil Unions are fine as it is.

What the hell are some of you smoking anyways? Hidden agendas? Defying the Charter of Rights? Are you guys completely mad? Harper can't afford to do anything radical, he would be shunted out of office faster than a Liberal could stuff his pockets full of cash! Canadians buy into Liberal propoganda so well that it would be political suicide for Harper to be anything but 'moderate'.
 

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delete.
 

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ssiguy2 said:
The US is much more religious than Canadians but it smuch more than that.The very right wing pentacostal christians in the US run the place. Our largest religion is Catholism....and no one goes and our largest protestant religion is United. United is VERY progressive and has been pushing for same-sex marriage for over a decade.
In Canada 8% of Canadians referred to themselves as "born again christians" while the rate in the US was 35%. A huge difference.
Americans also tend to see thing in more black and white while Canadians are more compramising. We don't have the moralistic dogma that is rampant in both Us government and society.

Yes, and that's why we have a Liberal government.
 

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firstly, canadian values are liberal values and liberal values are canadian values, so therefore conservatives are american ********....

secondly,
Oceanmdx said:
This is where I differ from you. About a year ago, the Conservative MP for Abbotsford (I forget the guy's name) said "to heck with the Courts" with regard to the Charter of Rights. I know that since then they have had a policy convention, but once elected, Harper is not legally bound to those resolutions - he can do what he wants. He has been very dishonest on the whole issue of Charter Rights, and Harper has been very dishonest regarding his position on the war in Iraq. I don't trust the whole bunch of them.
The MP is Randy White, and he's decided to quit politics after his term. secondly, i'm not completely familiar with the circumstances of that quote, but there's a fairly good chance in my mind that he was refering to some judment that was another lack of judgement....

also, after his comments in the last federal election, he was booted out of his position, and now sits as a backbencher... (the conservatives have to look acceptable to ontario)

i think that's all for now, but i would say generally that harper is a bit more trustworthy than martin...
 

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Boris550 said:
Oceanmdx: I actually GO to a seperate school (READ: Roman Catholic; I just graduated a few days ago) and there are basically NO Catholics that take the story of creation literally. Very, very few Christians will. To continue to suggest that any sizable amount do is ridiculous. And this is from the perspective of somebody who is NOT Catholic, but has had countless opportunities to study the religion from inside the system.
FYI, I attended Separate School too.

I don't think you understood what I have been saying. If Harper is ever elected due to the efforts of the religious groups, they will start to push their values on society.


What the hell are some of you smoking anyways? Hidden agendas? Defying the Charter of Rights? Are you guys completely mad? Harper can't afford to do anything radical, he would be shunted out of office faster than a Liberal could stuff his pockets full of cash! Canadians buy into Liberal propoganda so well that it would be political suicide for Harper to be anything but 'moderate'.
FYI, I don't smoke. :)

You are clearly wrong on many levels. You haven't listened to all that the Conservatives have said during the last few years. Clearly, you aren't aware of some of the things that they have said in the past.

Once Harper is elected with a majority government, he can do whatever in the hell he wants for 5 years!

Personally, gay civil unions is fine with me - I don't particularly care. However, Harper is clearly lying on the issue. The only way he can get around the gay marriage "right" is to use the nothwithstanding clause in the Constitution. In other words, he would be taking away a "right" by not permitting gay marriages and the only way he can to it is with the nothwithstanding clause. This is a legal fact.
 
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