Following my article in Convivium on making use of biblical precepts to inform our voting choices, Marking Your X With Neighbourly Love, Gloria challenged me to step beyond describing process to sharing my personal conclusions. Accordingly, I plan to share a few short pieces on issues important to me, starting today with two.
As noted in Marking Your X, politically I’m a Christian realist; I benefit from biblically informed policy considerations and exercise the practical understanding that one of two political parties is most likely to form government after the 2021 federal election.
Two issues important to me.
First, character matters.
I don’t personally know Justin Trudeau or Erin O’Toole. O’Toole is 48 years old, has served in the military, practiced law, and has been a Member of Parliament since 2012. Trudeau is 49 years old, was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and has been prime minister since October 2015. Both men are married, with children.
Trudeau has the disadvantage of his six-year history as Prime Minister. Significant promises were made in 2015 and 2019 then broken. Some of them are being made again in 2021. I wrote about this in more detail two years ago in All Men Are Liars. Some Are Politicians. and more recently in Pierre’s Vision Begot a Justin Society. I won’t make detailed comment here on promises made and broken (e.g. electoral reform, end to boil water advisories on First Nations reserves, balanced budget by 2019, increased transparency in government, pharmacare, lower cell phone bills) or promises being made again (e.g. national housing strategy 2015, criminalize conversion therapy 2019, end ban on gay blood donors 2015/19, new relationship with Indigenous peoples 2015)―the list in both categories is longer. And, there’s a different list of legislative initiatives and promises that would face court challenges for violation of Canadians’ rights and freedoms under the Charter (e.g. internet regulation, social media regulation, mandatory covid vaccination, domestic vaccine passports).
On matters of personal integrity: Trudeau was 18 the first reported time he wore blackface and 30 the last time he recalls wearing similar makeup for a brown-faced appearance shortly before leaving his employment at a private school in Vancouver; he was 29 when he groped a female reporter, noting he would not have done so if he had known she was reporting for a national newspaper. He did not disclose this behaviour on his candidate application to the Liberal Party. Trudeau has been found guilty of two ethics violations since becoming prime minister, including attempting to influence a criminal prosecution. His investigation and discipline of Liberal MPs alleged to have behaved inappropriately toward members of the opposite sex has been spotty at best.
As Trudeau said at a campaign stop on September 6, “It’s about leadership. It’s about integrity. It’s about saying what you mean and doing what you say.”
Second today, for me a vitally important issue in Canada’s foreign affairs is the role played by our nation on the issue of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). International FoRB is one wing of my work with Ansero Services.
Contemporary international political engagement requires understanding and action on the dynamics of religion. Whether assessing constitutionally Islamic states, the role of the church in Russia and former Soviet nations, or governments ideologically opposed to religion like those of China and North Korea, understanding the role of religion and FoRB in global affairs is no longer an option.
It took more than a decade of advocacy with Liberal and Conservative governments to gain recognition that Canada, and the world, would benefit from having a dedicated office within the Department of Foreign Affairs (now Global Affairs) focused on diplomacy and equipping the Canadian diplomatic corps on FoRB. When in 2013 Canada established the Office of Religious Freedom, with ambassador, our country quickly became a tier 1 leader in global conversations and action on FoRB. When Trudeau closed the office within months of becoming prime minister, Canada’s contribution and global respect was noticeably diminished. The Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion’s directorate for Democracy, Inclusion and Religious Freedom is staffed with a quality team that has kept Canada a solid tier 2 participant.
O’Toole has committed to establishing an Office of Religious Freedom and Conscience as part of a plan to re-establish Canada’s role on FoRB in the global community. In addition, he has committed to forming an International Human Rights Advisory Committee to advise the Government of Canada. (See pages 104 to 106 of the Conservative Party platform.)
On personal character and Canada’s contribution to religious freedom in the global arena, advantage Erin O’Toole.