By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Editor
A woman from our community who is running as a candidate for the Conservative Party tried to explain her choice of political parties at a church event over the Easter weekend by saying that the Conservatives more closely reflect her Christian faith.
I have no problem with anyone supporting or running for any particular Canadian political party. In fact, I would like to see more of us get involved in the political process. Not to do so is very unhelpful as far as our community is concerned. Just look at the South Asian (Indian) community, for example, to see how they have engaged themselves in the political process. There are some 27 legislators of East Indian heritage sitting in Canadian parliaments. And this is a relatively new community, compared to the Black community. How many Black Canadians are there in our parliaments?
My problem with this candidate is her implied assumption that the Conservative Party is more Christian than all the others. (Actually, if she really wanted to run for a Christian party, why not the Christian Heritage Party? Never heard of them? No wonder, it is one of the fringe parties, but you get my point, I hope.)
The Conservative Party is no more a Christian party that the Marijuana Party. At their core, most politicians confess some form of religion. That does not mean that they are all as faithful to their professed religion as their fellow religionists may like. So, to choose – or to profess a choice – of a particular party based on the assumption that it is a Christian party is, well, not the brightest idea. Especially for Black folks.
This seems to be another twist on the Conservative Party’s ethnic campaign. Just as they have been diligently working to convince members of certain ethnic groups (not Christian groups, I might add) that they are now the party for ethnics (religious values also play a part here), they have been working the Christian angle. And a lot of Black people (many of us hold to very strong Christian beliefs and principles) might fall for it.
Some people will say and do anything to get your vote so that they can achieve power. Even pretend to be of your religion, if they feel that will work.
We need politicians. We need governments and opposition parties (hopefully, to try and keep governments in line). We need them to run our cities, our provinces and our country. We need them to fix our roads, to provide our medical coverage, to look after us when we are old, to guide our economy in a way that will protect us. We need them to look after the poor in our midst, those who need that extra little help. We need them to provide access for our children to a good education so that they, hopefully, will be able to carry on when this current crop of politicians move on.
The Conservatives speak of family values. Does that mean that the Liberals and the New Democrats – or even the Bloc and the Green Party are against family values? Does it mean that if the Conservatives don’t regain power, all hell will break loose?
Some say that their support for the Conservatives is based on the party’s stand against abortion and gay marriage. Do you really think, in this middle-of-the-political-spectrum Canada that the Conservatives will go against the will of Canadians and reverse current policies on these issues? Really?
All these politicians are cut from the same cloth, just different parts of the cloth with different colours – blue, red, orange, green, what have you. I will wager that there are Christians, Jews, Muslims and non-believers in all of the parties, some more devoted (or even zealous) than others. And enough secularists in each of them to keep us in the middle of the road, not too crazy to the left or the right.
We need to pay close attention to the promises the parties (and their leaders) are making. Do they make sense? How do you feel about the individuals and what they are saying? Do you think you can trust them with your and your children’s future?
What about our community? Have any of them shown any real interest in the issues of concern to Black people?
You might say that this isn’t the most important thing for you – as a Canadian – but that might be just a bit naive. Black folks have particular issues that need to be addressed. Employment, unemployment or under-employment for one. The unemployment rate among Blacks is much higher that that of Whites. What about housing and assistance for the poor among us. Many of our brothers and sisters in our churches are praying for a miracle in their lives such as a job, or a better job, housing or better housing, help with care for a special needs relative. Which of the parties has a genuine plan to help with these concerns?
The Conservatives want to spend some $30-billion on stealth fighter planes. Do they know something that we don’t? Is there some kind of a war coming for which we must prepare?
They want to build more jails. That’s right. And you know, unfortunately, who will be filling those jails.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he wants to win a majority government this time and there are those who believe that he deserves it. If you are one of them, vote for the Conservatives next Monday.
I am not so sure. Based on the behaviour of this government over the past few years, their disrespect for Parliament and for parliamentary process, for example, I shudder to think what would happen if Harper did win a majority.
The reality is that, in spite of what Harper may say about the Liberals and the New Democrats, these parties have been around for a long time and we know them. We know, to a large extent, what they will do and what they won’t do. Harper’s attempt to frighten voters into thinking the worse of the other parties is just another of his ploys to win votes – and, possibly, his majority.
There are very good options to the Harper government. Choose one of them if you are as concerned as I am about Harper.
By the way, there is nothing illegal (or even immoral) about opposition parties getting together to form a coalition government. Conservatives have been decrying what they say is a plan by the Liberals and the NDP to do just that and they say that is not respecting the will of the Canadian people. If the Conservatives win less seats than all the oppositions parties combined, isn’t that also an expression of the will of the people? And isn’t a majority of the seats in the House more than a minority, regardless of which party is in which position as long as all those parliamentarians were duly elected by the people?
Just goes to show how these things could be subject to interpretation.
Whatever you do, one choice you should not have next Monday is to not vote once you are eligible. This is your country too. Make your vote – and your voice – count. While you still can.
By the way, even if the candidate of the party you support doesn’t seem to have a chance of winning in your riding, still vote for him or her. By doing so, you will still be supporting your party since the parties receive a set fee for each vote they get. (Unless you are planning to vote strategically, that is, to vote for another candidate who has a better chance of winning in order to help defeat a candidate from a party you really don’t like.)