A new debate is emerging concerning the relation between religion and politics in Canada, brought on in part by NDP MP Pat Martin’s comments that Opus Dei gives him ‘the creeps’, and closely related to Marci MacDonald’s recent book about the Christian Right’s influence in Parliament.
Voting for Jesus: Marci McDonald’s ‘The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada’ – Nick Dion
If we are to believe Tuesday’s Toronto Star, the release of Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor this past week was a much-anticipated event. Building on an article that she wrote a few years back for The Walrus magazine, McDonald’s book charts the rise of Christian nationalism in Canada and demonstrates the extent of its political influence over the current federal government. In this respect, I was expecting something similar to Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, which dealt with the influence of the religious right in US politics from Reagan onwards.My curiosity was sufficiently peaked to pick up a copy of the book on its release date. I was not expecting an academic text; McDonald made no pretensions of presenting one.
After years of litigation, Gurbaj Singh Multani, a Sikh student in a Montreal-area high school, wins his appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada and is allowed to wear his kirpan to school, provided it remains safely strapped to his body, beneath his clothing. Hérouxville, a small town in rural Quebec, passes a town charter that forbids, among other things, the stoning of women. A sugar shack closes its dance room temporarily so that Muslim patrons can pray. A YMCA in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood frosts its windows after worshippers from the Orthodox Jewish synagogue across the street complain that the scantily clad women on the gym’s treadmills offend their religious sensibilities.
On a purely aesthetic level, all symbolism aside, there’s something awfully beautiful about a burning church. Well, about any burning stone structure really, but how often do we see stone these days other than in churches? The fire spills out the windows and eventually out the roof, but the walls stand firm as the glow emerges from within.
In June of 2008 the federal government of Canada formally established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as a part of the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The TRC is meant to be a body independent of the government that will allow former students of the schools to share their experiences, while at the same time educating the Canadian public about the history of these schools in Canada. The TRC claims to have the following mandate: (1) create a historical record of the policies and operations of residential schools; (2) make a public report that includes recommendations to the government in regards to the residential schools and the their legacy; (3) establish a research centre as a permanent resource; (4) hold 7 national events to promote awareness and education about the schools and their impact; (5) support events for individual First Nations communities; (6) honour and pay tribute to former students in a permanent way. The TRC, after two years of “growing pains” and false starts, seems prepared to finally take off and begin its work. Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, Commissioner Marie Wilson, and Commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild are set to begin holding the commission’s first national event June 15-19 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The TRC and those supporting it appear hopeful, even after the change of Commissioners through out the last 2 years, and the stalled beginning.