Friday, September 26, 2008

Election Fever

In general, I have kept this blog focussed on ecclesiastical issues.

That said, I have always been passionate and partisan about secular politics.

For me, the connection between faith and politics is fundamental. While recognizing that people of faith may disagree on which approach to public policy best serves the common good, I find the suggestion that people of faith should check their beliefs at the door is nothing short of bizarre.

Politically, I am a social democrat - which makes me a New Democrat up this way. For my American readers, that's a completely different thing than an American New Democrat and more like Senator Bernie Sanders - who I met when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Tommy Douglas - former premier of Saskatchewan, former federal New Democrat leader and a frequent visitor at our house when I was a child - had a very useful fable to explain why progressives should be wary of right wing parties that pretend to be progressive. (American friends may recognize the person who introduces the video.)

Over the past few elections, the Liberal Party of Canada has spent a lot of its time squeaking like mice. Squeaking like mice and claiming that the Conservative government was so very, very bad that New Democrats should abandon our own party and align ourselves with the Liberals. During this election, they are claiming that there is nothing in the world more dangerous than a Conservative majority government.

The last Canadian Parliament was a minority - meaning that the governing Conservative Party depended on one or another of the three opposition parties to get its legislation passed. Defeat on any major issue would mean that the government would fall, Parliament would be dissolved and an election would ensue.

Now, if the Liberals really believed that the Conservatives were so very, very bad, you'd think they would have sought every possible opportunity to defeat the government. You'd think that they would be in their places for every single vote, boldly attempting to bring the government down.

You'd think so.

You'd be wrong.

On 43 different occasions, the Liberals ensured that the Conservative government would survive - either by voting with them, by sitting on their hands and abstaining or, most often, by skulking behind the curtains and refusing to vote at all.

In essence, the Liberal Party gave the Conservatives a majority.

Despite however much they squeaked like mice, it turns out they still thought, and behaved, and ate like cats.

Over on my sidebar, you will see an icon for The Absent Opposition. There, you will be able to select one of 43 different videos showing how the Liberals compliantly handed the Conservatives a majority. Enjoy.

And if you are a progressive Canadian voter, don't be fooled by squeaking cats,

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Here is a letter that we'll be sending out over my signature early in the week. It is addressed to those who have presented their children for baptism at our parish between about 1998 and 2005.

Dear friends in Christ:

It’s that time of year again: back to school time for families with school aged children. Our children may or may not be excited about their return to the classroom, but we parents are well aware of the importance of education in preparing them for adult life.

Our Book of Alternative Services includes a prayer that schools may be “lively centres for sound learning, new discovery and the pursuit of wisdom.” That, surely, reflects the hope of every parent as we send our children off to begin the school year.

I’m writing to remind you of one other aspect of your child’s education – their Christian education.

Our regular Church School program at St. James will begin again on Sunday, September 14, 2008, in conjunction with the regular 10:30 service.

There are a lot of good reasons for you to register your child in our Church School – and, of course, to bring your child to Church. For the purposes of this letter, I will only refer to two.

There is a direct correlation between Church attendance and higher grades. That may seem startling, but that is what a recent US study shows. Children who go to Church regularly have higher grades, lower drop-out rates and are more likely to feel like they are part of their school community. They also breathe easier, live longer, are better behaved and more well adjusted. You can find the LiveScience article online (

Okay, so that was several good reasons all rolled up in one. But here is the other reason: because you promised.

A few years ago, you came to St. James of a Sunday morning, bearing a precious bundle, and asking that your son or daughter be made a member of the Church through Baptism. At that time, you made certain affirmations and commitments on behalf of your child. You also made one commitment on your own behalf. The priest asked you, “will you be responsible that the child you present is nurtured in the faith and love of the Christian community?” And you answered, “I will, with God’s help.” Bringing your child to attend Church School allows the rest of us in the St. James family to help you with that promise.

St. James aspires to be a welcoming community, offering spiritual nourishment for all people. We look forward to seeing you.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Malcolm French
Interim Priest