Friday, May 27, 2005

Today America…

Not satisfied with turning the United States into a theocracy, the Religious Right has set their sights on Canada. From the Globe and Mail (note: a “riding” is the parliamentary equivalent to a congressional district):

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.”

I’ll give the Tories credit for being wary of the evangelicals. All they have to do is look at their cousins to the south and see what it’s done for the Republicans to get tied too closely to the nutsery. But when you have candidates already running for office, it’s a little late.