Friday, May 27, 2005

If the bunch of us all stick together, and we all go down as one

I'm not sure why the Globe & Mail finds it at all surprising that Conservative riding associations are more likely than other parties' to select socon candidates. 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." I'm not that socially conservative, and I have to admit occasional frustration at those who assume I am, merely because of party affiliation. However, I'd never begrudge anyone from holding whatever beliefs they want. Unlike the Canadian media, I don't automatically take the implicit position that the religiously conservative ought to be shunned from public life entirely. The overtly religious are entirely marginalized and ignored in the other major parties; where else are they going to go? The Bloc and NDP, for all their platitudes of equality and social justice, are pretty uniformly secularist. The Liberals actively suppress their socially conservative members, except when it's convenient to encourage them for the sake of winning the votes of particular ethnic communities. I'd rather see conservative Christians have a stake in a big-tent opposition party - albeit, for preference, a minor one; on most social policies, the status quo is certainly good enough for me - than have them feel so disenfranchised by all viable parties as to turn to fringe groups like the CHP; that way lies simmering resentment, and an creepily unhealthy sort, at that. In the matter of CPC policy, I'm willing to be open-minded towards religion, if the religious are willing to be open-minded towards live-and-let-live, moderately-libertarian secularism. Unlike this particular instance of religious conservatism, say: QUEBEC CITY – Members of the national assembly have given unanimous support across party lines to a motion blocking the use of Islamic courts in Quebec. Liberal MNA Fatima Houda-Pépin says the pro-Shariah lobby has a hidden agenda, and implementing the parallel justice system would infringe on Muslim women's rights. "Shariah law is not only a question of family mediation. It is a whole judicial system," Houda-Pépin said Thursday. There is a limit to how far I'm willing to extend that open-mindedness. If ever Christian Tory candidates start espousing the virtues of all-encompassing, theocratic, misogynist, homophobic and generally intolerant private law (and I have no reason to believe they would), you can count me out. (Via NealeNews.)

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