Vince Byfield: Good news for Canadian Christians: We are not politically irrelevant!
The Toronto Star was forced to eat political crow over the weekend. On Friday they predicted federal Conservative candidate Maxime Bernier had the party leadership ‘almost in the bag’. Just one day later their follow-up article showed just how out of touch Toronto can be when it comes to the rest of Canada: “Andrew Scheer wins Conservative leadership in major upset.” What? Surely this is a misprint! How could the political shamans of the Toronto Star get it so horribly wrong? Answer: social conservatives.
This year Canada’s Conservatives went with a ranked balloting system. This means that, unlike first-past-the-post, your vote is not thrown away if your initial choice is a ‘no-name’ candidate. Instead, you are permitted to ‘rank’ your vote and select a second choice, a third, and so on for as many as you like. In each round the least popular candidate drops off and his or her supporters’ votes then shift to their next-best choice on their ballot.
In Round One Maxime Bernier, a popular secularist libertarian, nabbed 29% and Scheer 22%. Canada’s social conservatives initially threw support behind two candidates: Brad Trost from Saskatchewan and Pierre Lemieux from Ontario, who together took 16%. However, even though he started with a sizable seven percent head start, Bernier ultimately lost to Scheer simply because more voters had Scheer down as an alternative. An examination of the vote count reveals that most Trost/Lemieux supporters put Scheer down as their third option.
But Canada’s SoCons may want to restrain their cheers for the moment. Despite receiving about a third of his support from them, Scheer’s recent comments and his failure to defend the definition of traditional marriage two years ago exposes him as a fiscal conservative wearing SoCon clothing. Pundits and Scheer himself say his future support for the advancement of important issues like the protection of all human life will resemble that of Stephen Harper’s. In other words, almost no serious support at all.
So what are Christians to do? StatsCan’s latest census shows that an impressive 24 million Canadians continue to call themselves Christian. But how ‘Christian’ actually are they? A 2015 Angus Reid survey concluded that 23% of Canadian Christians claim to attend church regularly. In Alberta, with a population of four million, that means that over 600,000 Albertans still say they sit through sermons at least once a month. Sadly, only 2,200 of those Albertans — or one out of every 300 active Christians — actually took the few minutes needed to participate in the recent federal leadership race.
But what if that were to change? What if this recent political ‘upset’ were to inspire Canadian Christians to start flexing their political muscle? What if groups were to begin meeting across the nation on a regular basis to discuss the political issues of the day? (Meeting right after Sunday services would be ideal.) What if these same groups then took their engagement to the next level and became active in all of Canada’s political parties? If just one percent of inactive SoCons were to begin fulfilling their civic and Christian duty there would be 50,000 new Conservatives ready to further upset the establishment’s apple cart at the next federal leadership race. With just 2% of Christians engaged in federal affairs the Conservative party would have no choice but to begin addressing SoCon issues seriously.
This article continues at [CHRIAS] Good news for Canadian Christians: We are not politically irrelevant!