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Pray: Canada's social conservatives are anxious to have their voices heard
Vancouver Sun ^ | July 23, 2005 | Peter O'Neil

Posted on 07/23/2005 7:55:41 PM PDT by ConservativeStatement

But some of the more aggressive Canadian activists are taking pages from the political strategies of the American religious right.

Their campaign against the Liberal gay marriage bill has included provocative direct-mail campaigns, creation of policy think-tanks and lobbying centres, and the deliberate targeting for defeat of politicians they oppose.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: canada; canadianchristians; evangelicals; moralmajority; pray; prayer; religion
The title was altered to fit in the space required.
1 posted on 07/23/2005 7:55:42 PM PDT by ConservativeStatement
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To: MassRepublicanFlyersFan

Canada is a country lost to depravity and corruption. I don't think there is any hope for that country.

That is, unless it breaks up or a revolution occurs.

2 posted on 07/23/2005 8:02:08 PM PDT by adorno (The democrats are the best recruiting tool the terrorists could ever have.)
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To: adorno
Yes. Social Conservatives must relocate to one or two provinces that can be detached from Canada without much fear of military retaliation.

Maybe three.

I was thinking of BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Might take a while, but in the meantime there's plenty of beef to eat, and there's always oil shale and the tar sands.

We would be happy to provide Librul substitutes out of the plentiful population we have in the NE, or in Washington and Oregon.

3 posted on 07/23/2005 8:07:23 PM PDT by muawiyah (/ hey coach do I gotta' put in that "/sarcasm " thing again?)
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To: muawiyah

"without much fear of military retaliation..."

Canada has a military?

4 posted on 07/23/2005 8:30:43 PM PDT by Brilliant
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To: MassRepublicanFlyersFan

Conservatives in Canada?

Jeeze, just when it seemed like they were going to attract
all the gays from the states....

5 posted on 07/23/2005 8:43:11 PM PDT by konaice
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To: MassRepublicanFlyersFan

Good news. Look for the next Parliamentary election to be a Canadian version of 1994.

6 posted on 07/23/2005 9:10:36 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued (Mike DeWine for retirement, John Kasich for Senate)
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To: MassRepublicanFlyersFan

Toronto BUMP!

7 posted on 07/24/2005 5:10:54 AM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: ConservativeStLouisGuy
Pray: Canada's Social Conservatives Are Anxious THave Their Voices Heard Where IReally Counts IA Democracy: AThe Ballot Box

Canada's version of the U.S. "culture wars," which began in the 1970s when Christian right leaders like Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell launched campaigns against the gay rights movement, is more moderate and tends to avoid blatant attacks on homosexuality itself.

But some of the more aggressive Canadian activists are taking pages from the political strategies of the American religious right.

Their campaign against the Liberal gay marriage bill has included provocative direct-mail campaigns, creation of policy think-tanks and lobbying centres, and the deliberate targeting for defeat of politicians they oppose.

One shadowy group, which calls itself Concerned Canadian Parents and is linked only to a post office box in a Toronto 7-Eleven, is spending significant cash on advertisements and a direct mail campaign that has angered citizens and MPs from several parties across Canada. The Sun has learned that the group is backed by members of the Exclusive Brethren, a reclusive evangelical Christian sect with anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 adherents, mostly in North America, England, and Australia.

The Exclusive Brethren, who have historically refused to participate in politics, sidestepped that tradition in order to fund a $500,000 US ad campaign for President George W. Bush last year, with most of that money coming from a British businessman named Bruce Hazell.

Other groups, like Rev. Charles McVety's Defend Marriage coalition and Langley-based Focus on the Family (Canada), founded by American religious right potentate James Dobson, are, like their American counterparts, more outspoken in response to media coverage.

They and others, including some MPs, have suggested that the movement is being unfairly targeted simply for being Christian, and have argued that racial minority groups active in politics would never receive such coverage.

And the Canadian groups are also increasingly involved directly in the political process, taking advantage of links with church ministers and members to help social conservatives win nominations to run for Parliament --usually, but not exclusively, for Stephen Harper's Conservative party.

But the social conservative movement, despite being increasingly vocal, can still be characterized as a rag-tag lobbying operation in Ottawa compared to major business lobbyists.

Veteran Ottawa lobbyist Randy Pettipas said social conservative groups have made a lot of media noise in recent months, but failed to block the gay marriage bill.

Lower-profile industry groups and lobbyists representing the energy, pharmaceutical, medical, and defence industries are better organized and much more effective, said Pettipas, president of Global Public Affairs.

"But watch out for them in the future, because I think they've learned a lot from this," he said, suggesting that the disparate groups could become more influential if they were better coordinated.

Many of the most prominent social conservative groups don't have offices in the nation's capital, relying on activists who work from home or on cell phones.

The Campaign Life Coalition, which has a tiny suite of basement offices far from Parliament Hill, proudly boasts of a visit by the late Mother Teresa, who complimented the CLC on its frugality.

While Focus Canada is planning to open a nine-person research office in Ottawa that would be roughly twice the size of any existing social conservative lobby group in the city, Focus's presence would be dwarfed by that of U.S. religious lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

There are literally hundreds of Christian right activists who meet to coordinate plans to lobby Congress and the White House several times a week in the U.S. capital, says Christian Coalition lobbyist Jim Backlin.

The largest group in Washington is a Focus on the Family-affiliated entity called the Family Research Council.

FRC owns its own six-storey building, which has an assessed value of $10.7 million US, has 50 employees and is headed by high-profile former Louisiana politician Tony Perkins, who earns $171,000 US a year, according to public records.

One of the Canadian movement's leading voices, the relatively low-profile Bruce Clemenger, is president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, a national organization with five employees in a modest downtown Ottawa office.

"There are more evangelical politicians in Ottawa than there used to be," Clemenger said. "I think evangelicals are engaging."

Clemenger's organization helped fund an Ipsos-Reid poll in 2003 that found 19 per cent of Canadians are deeply religious Christians, including 12 per cent who are evangelical Protestant and seven per cent Roman Catholic.

Canadian evangelical Christians are, Clemenger believes, more moderate and politically diverse than their American counterparts -- many vote Liberal and NDP -- and are divided on issues such as capital punishment and the war in Iraq.

"A lot of it depends on, are we welcome to continue to participate?" said Clemenger, whose group is a registered charity that represents more than three million Canadians from 40 denominations and 6,000 churches.

"We're not trying to impose. We're trying to engage, to participate, to take Canada seriously. If we are a plural and multi-religious, multicultural society, then we need to have a place at the table.

"We need to be able to engage in the debates, and do so being authentically who we are."

He said organizations like EFC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops differ from the more aggressive lobby groups like Defend Marriage because they try to influence policy, but don't get involved in actual politics.

The evangelical Christian Trinity Western University in Langley is also becoming more active on the federal scene, although not at the political level.

In 2002, TWU established the Ottawa-based Laurentian Leadership Centre, where up to 23 students each semester take politics courses and intern with MPs or in some cases with businesses and governmental institutions.

The students, like the university, are Christian in orientation but have politically diverse views and are being groomed to be active citizens, guided by their faith and education, said Laurentian executive director Paul Wilson.

While some TWU student interns there have political aspirations, they aren't being urged to enter the field and many don't, he said.

Wilson, former official opposition director when Preston Manning was Reform leader, bristles at the suggestion that Laurentian can be tied to the expansion attempts of some of the more aggressive social conservative organizations.

"Some evangelicals see 'defending marriage'' as a vital priority. I'm sure this includes some people at TWU," he wrote in an e-mail.

"But lots of other evangelical social conservatives -- again, including people at TWU -- have different priorities. They prefer to focus on third world debt repayment, environmental responsibility, child poverty, rescuing children from child prostitution in South East Asia, developing third world water projects, and on and on."

While EFC and Trinity play down the idea of a social conservative "sleeping giant," groups like the Defend Marriage coalition coined the phrase and suggest Canada is at the same place the U.S. was in the late 1970s during the Bryant-Falwell era.

Defend Marriage, led by evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, orthodox Jew Joseph Ben-Ami, and Vancouver evangelical Christian K-John Cheung, are rallying around Conservative leader Stephen Harper's promise to consider repealing the gay marriage law if he becomes prime minister after the next election, expected in early 2006.

"Paul Martin has been able to do what no man has done in the history of this country -- unite the various faiths for one cause," said Rev. Charles McVety, a spokesman for Defend Marriage and president of the Toronto-based Canada Christian College.

"We're very encouraged by the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs all working together for a common cause."

Ben-Ami, former Ottawa director of B'nai Brith, is establishing a separate social conservative lobby in Ottawa called the Institute for Canadian Values.

He told The Sun that his institute, and other groups, plan to coordinate efforts to bring a social conservative viewpoint to issues beyond opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

A social conservative perspective can be brought to a wide variety of issues, from health care and child care to foreign policy and foreign aid, he said.

Defend Marriage, which includes the anti-abortion Campaign Life Coalition, is hoping to increase the number of social conservatives in the next Parliament and is urging members to vote against pro-gay marriage candidates in any party.

There are close to 100 religious conservatives in the 308-seat House of Commons, of whom about 50 are in the 98-person Conservative caucus, according to an analysis done for The Vancouver Sun by journalist Lloyd Mackey, who covers faith and politics on Parliament Hill for several Christian publications and websites.

Nine of 18 new Conservative candidates running in B.C. have also been identified as social conservatives, the most prominent being former Focus Canada president Darrel Reid, running against Liberal Raymond Chan in Richmond, and Cindy Silver, a former Focus Canada legal adviser going against Liberal Don Bell in North Vancouver.

(Both Chan and Bell, members of evangelical Christian churches themselves, are being attacked for voting in favour of the gay marriage bill.)

Mackey, whose book The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper is to be released next month, said the public's view of the so-called "so-con" movement is strongly influenced by the high-profile activities of groups such as Defend Marriage.

That group's outspoken leader, Charles McVety, has appeared on national television expressing a desire to defeat any politician who doesn't support his understanding of marriage.

McVety, who had controversial U.S. evangelist Jerry Falwell fly up in a private jet to speak at a college event last year, is more reflective of the new wave of religious activists who became politically involved while helping Stockwell Day defeat Preston Manning in the 2000 Canadian Alliance leadership race, Mackey said.

Manning, an evangelical Christian, wooed like-minded people to the old Reform party but was always clear that issues like abortion couldn't be pushed without clear support from mainstream Canadians.

"Some of the more ideological religious social conservatives saw the incrementalism of Manning as being insufficient for real reform on life and marriage issues," Mackey said.

While Defend Marriage is arguably the most vocal of the new groups, B.C.-based Focus on the Family (Canada) is better financed and is more likely to have greater staying power.

Focus Canada, created by Dobson in 1983 and raising most of its $11 million in annual revenues from Canadian donors, is a registered charity dedicated to producing research that might influence politicians and the media.

Focus's key to success in North American politics has been to build a following based on non-political issues. Dobson's radio programs, books, and other material are aimed at aiding families on issues such as raising children, keeping marriages together, eating disorders, Hollywood films, teenage sex, drug abuse, and second marriages.

But Focus, in both Canada and the U.S., is able to galvanize its followers to contact politicians on key legislation.

Liberal Don Boudria complained in the House of Commons in the spring that his fax machine was paralysed for several days by a flood of Focus-inspired appeals to vote against gay marriage.

Political action is a tactic not used by more established elements of the movement such as the EFC, which says even an informal alignment with a particular political party -- in addition to threatening its charitable status under Canada Revenue Agency rules -- could harm the group's overall credibility.

"It hurts us if evangelicals are seen to be the Conservative party of prayer, or the United Church becomes the NDP party of prayer," Clemenger said.

While most activists acknowledge that strong religious conservatives represent a minority of the Canadian population, many say the movement can expand its influence by exploiting the federal party nomination process to eventually get a majority of like-minded supporters in Parliament.

"Just voting in the federal election is the least of our duties," Defend Marriage's McVety said in an interview, adding that the candidates in ridings that usually have 100,000 constituents get the party nomination with the support of about 200 voting members.

"We know that it takes very small numbers to join a political party and engage in choosing the local candidate for that party. So we are educating Canadians of faith and goodwill to join the political party of their choice and to be a part of the decision-making" process.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes predicted the real breakthrough will come when the Liberal and Conservative parties allow party members to challenge incumbent MPs, who are currently protected from nomination battles because of an expected election in early 2006.

"That'll be something quite interesting and obviously something we've never seen before," Hughes said, predicting that many pro-gay marriage MPs will be dumped.

8 posted on 07/24/2005 5:11:59 AM PDT by ConservativeStLouisGuy (11th FReeper Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Unnecessarily Excerpt)
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To: MassRepublicanFlyersFan

Both of them?

9 posted on 07/24/2005 6:20:45 AM PDT by Buckeye Battle Cry (Life is too short to go through it clenched of sphincter and void of humor - it's okay to laugh.)
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To: konaice

Our next Prime Minister will overturn gay marriage and ban it once again...

10 posted on 07/24/2005 8:34:16 AM PDT by Heartofsong83
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To: muawiyah

Actually, Quebec (who hates religion now) should separate and take all the gays and ultra-liberal secular extremists...while everyone else can keep all our religious folks.

Remember: even the "blue states" are more religious than you think as well...

11 posted on 07/24/2005 8:35:51 AM PDT by Heartofsong83
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To: Heartofsong83
Our next Prime Minister will overturn gay marriage and ban it once again...

Pretty hard to do once the cat is out of the bag.

12 posted on 07/24/2005 5:17:25 PM PDT by konaice
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To: adorno

Social Conservatism will never catch on in Canada. If the Conservative Party was smart they would go for the Libertarian Vote.

13 posted on 07/25/2005 3:29:07 PM PDT by rasblue (What would Barry Goldwater do?)
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To: rasblue

The Conservative Party was called the Conservative Party and not The Libertarian party for a REASON. The Conservative Party would be smart going after both fiscal and social conservatives.

14 posted on 07/25/2005 7:28:46 PM PDT by youngtory (Kick the Red Tories out of the Conservative Party!)
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To: youngtory

Many social conservatives in Canada have already moved to the US, and many more will follow (including yourself probably). They have given up on Canada. Fact is there are just not enough so-cons in Canada. There are not enough libertarians in Canada either (30%+ of Canadians work for the gov't directly or indirectly) but at least we have a shot with the "South Park Republican" types.

15 posted on 07/26/2005 4:13:43 PM PDT by rasblue (What would Barry Goldwater do?)
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To: adorno

yup...all one must do is look at the long forgotten Adscam scandal...teh conservative party actually saw its poll numbers fall, the more the scandal was revealed.

What happened was people feared that the conservative might win and their welfare gravy train would come to an end. Thus support for conservative actually fell the more people learned how corrupt the liberals were.

16 posted on 07/26/2005 4:15:34 PM PDT by atlanta67
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To: Clintonfatigued

""Good news. Look for the next Parliamentary election to be a Canadian version of 1994.""

dream on.

17 posted on 07/26/2005 4:15:53 PM PDT by atlanta67
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To: konaice

overturning gay marriage is harder than making abortion illeagal again

18 posted on 07/26/2005 4:16:51 PM PDT by atlanta67
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