OTTAWA, Ontario, February 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Should Christians have a voice in the public square? Not according to some of Canada’s Bloc Quebecois Members of Parliament.
Rising in the House of Commons Thursday, Bloc MP Pierre Paquette (Joliette) questioned the Conservative government over the fact that some of its Christian MPs have met and worked with Christian groups - “the fringe of the Conservative Party,” in Paquette’s words.
“Is it not worrisome to see all these fundamentalist groups circling around the Conservative government, trying to change legislation to impose their religious values?” he asked.
The question came after an “exposé” Thursday on Radio Canada’s Enquête, purporting to show that evangelical leaders have been granted “privileged access” to Conservative MPs and senators.
The thirty-minute piece focused in particular on young preacher Faytene Kryskow, head of the Christian political group for youth 4MYCanada. The report alleged that Kryskow has had an inordinate influence on Rod Bruinooge, head of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus. Enquête pointed out that when Bruinooge brought forward Bill C-510 to ban abortion coercion, Kryskow urged her group’s members to lobby the government in favor of it.
“Each time a bill is deemed to go against their religious doctrine, the Conservatives bustle about to get it rejected,” said Paquette, mentioning the Conservatives’ rejection of the euthanasia bill (C-384) in 2010. That bill was defeated overwhelmingly by MPs from all parties in a vote of 228-59.
John Baird, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, responded to Paquette, saying, “As Canadians, people of faith, certainly have every right to be heard by their government.”
“In the last few months, I have had the pleasure to meet with Jewish groups, Muslim groups, Hindu groups and Sikh groups,” he continued. “I have had the pleasure to meet with Buddhist groups.”
“And I want to tell you something remarkable,” he added. “I have even met with a few Christian groups.”
Bloc MP Mario Laframboise (Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel) raised the issue again on Friday, specifically naming Kryskow. “Does the government not find it disturbing that so many fundamentalists gravitate to the Conservative Party to stack the government and impose their religious values?” he asked.
However, Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, asked, “[Are Christians] trying ‘to impose their religious values’ or simply participating in the democratic process?” in a blog post at ActivateCFPL Monday.
He said Paquette “must have mistakenly assumed the Radio-Canada creation was a reporting of the news,” and pointed out that the Supreme Court of Canada has consistently upheld the right of religious groups to influence public policy.
In its 2002 decision Chamberlain v. Surrey School District, the Court asserted that “nothing in the Charter ... demands that atheistically based moral positions trump religiously based moral positions on matters of public policy.”
“Everyone has ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ in something, be it atheistic, agnostic or religious,” the Court noted.
Hutchinson warned that the “silent majority” is wrong to assume that life will “proceed as usual” despite such attacks on religion. “As citizens, we are called upon to remain vigilant. It’s our Canada. It’s our land,” he said. “Let’s not be passive about keeping it ‘strong and free’ or in no time, it won’t be.”