Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sick of Politicians Using Religion to Acquire Power

4MyCanada, a non-profit organization that helps Christian youth become engaged in politics, wants its members to attend a Campaign School organized by the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this. But 4MyCanada claims to be non-partisan and the Campaign School is for social and fiscal conservatives. The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, says it`s not associated with the Conservative Party of Canada. Maybe not officially, but in truth it`s a Conservative, not conservative, think tank, run by one of Prime Minister Harper`s long-time organizers.

Joseph C.Ben-Ami is President of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies. Mr. Ben-Ami`s resume credits include the following: Policy Aid to Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day; National Director of Operations in Stockwell Day`s 2002 Leadership Campaign.

Also speaking at the Campaign School: Rod Bruinooge, Conservative Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South; Activist Tristan Emmanuel who recently headed up Conservative MPP, Randy Hillier`s Campaign to lead the Ontario Tories, and Faytene Kryskow, founder and director of 4MyCanada (While Kryskow may not be officially tied to the Tory party, her session focuses on turning youth into socially conservative activists.)

Most Campaign School sessions reflect the right of the Conservative Party of Canada. Sessions include Running Right: Lessons from the Hillier Campaign; Winning as a Pro-Life Candidate; Campaign Essentials for Social Conservatives:In Search of Unity: Fiscal Conservatives & Social Conservatives - Myths & Facts; Communication Essentials for Social Conservatives (aka.Spin Doctoring)

No Red Tories, Liberals, New Democrats, or Greens will speak at the Campaign School. The sessions reflect only the right of the Conservative party. So, this Campaign School is obviously designed to recruit staff and volunteers for candidates in a narrow spectrum within the Conservative Party of Canada.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies isn't encouraging the vast majority of Canadian Christians, who do not suscribe to its ideology, to become activists. (Christians in Canada span the political spectrum.) Since this Campaign school will train only Christians who are fiscal and social conservatives, it is not about turning the faithful into voters. It`s about political ideologues using religion to gain political power.

As a Christian, I want to point out something to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mr. Ben-Ami, and Ms. Faytene Krystow: Cynical attempts by church `leaders` and their allied political cronies to manipulate people into giving political power to ideological elites have a long history of destroying churches, worldwide. In Canada, we need only to look to Quebec, where manipulation by priests and their political allies played a key role in the complete secularization of that province.

Duplessis`s Quebec was faith based and ideologically conservative. It was also repressive and corrupt. Both Duplessis era religion and politics have been totally rejected by modern Quebecois. The `Quiet Revolution` nearly destroyed Confederation. And it's something 21st century preachers and political recruiters should think about when they are tempted confuse political affiliation with Judeo-Christian faith.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Fourth of July from Canada

I hope Americans have a wonderful holiday, celebrating their achievements, their families and their country. But I wish Canadians, in their quest to be friends or do business with Americans, would drop the neo-colonial mindset and stand up for themselves.

I wish Canadians would insist events, like the American Revolution, are portrayed in popular media and books accurately and, at least occasionally, from our perspective. I wish Americans would stop revelling in the fact that they don't know what a Governor General or a Member of Parliament does.

Most of all I wish Canadians would stop excusing this and allowing it to happen.

It's time Canadian actors and writers told publishers and producers that our words, our spelling, our accents, our places, and our perspective are too important to exchange for money. It's time Canadians backed them up and refused to watch, read or listen to media that does not portray Canadian perspectives accurately.

Let's be honest: The United States of America is not the only freedom loving country birthed in that bloody war between brothers now called the American Revolution. The Americans did not teach the United Empire Loyalists about freedom or hardwork or fighting for what they believed.

Those who opposed American rebels had to found another country to find freedom. There was little dissent allowed during the rebellion in the thirteen colonies.

Here's what loyalists -- mostly tradesmen and farmers with diverse ethnic backgrounds, not wealthy landowners, endured: jail, hanging, confiscation of property, forced renunciation of their beliefs, tar and feathering, and eventually exile to the wilderness.

That's our history. We have no reason to hide it, but we do for fear of offense and something we call a 'friendship.' But is, what Father of Confederation Sir Alexander Galt called 'a servile fear' of American anger really a friendship?

Friends treat each other with respect. Friends are equal. Friends aren't afraid of telling their own story, using their own accent, saying their own words. Friends don't hide who they are from each other. Friends want to learn about each other.

When Canadians can talk to the Americans honestly about our shared history, then we might be able to call each other friends.

When Canadian actors are no long asked to change their accent in order to get a job in their own country; when Canadian authors, screen-writers, and producers are no longer asked to use American spelling or turn Canadian stories into American ones (as Paul Gross was when he made Passchendaele and when Americans and Canadians can see movies and read books about the United Empire Loyalists, Canadian regiments in WW I, or the colonists battles in the War of 1812, made from a Canadian perspective, we'll be getting somewhere close to friendship.

Until then, we are merely polite acquaintances condemned to repeat our mistakes. Pity.