| Elections get dirty and this one is no exception.
As the campaign comes down to the wire, policy and politeness
have been cast aside. Stockwell Day's "agenda of respect"
has degenerated into name-calling and innuendo from all directions.
invectives that are flying around are those pertaining to
Day's religious beliefs. Now, in fairness to him, he did make
the strength of his faith clear from the start by declaring
that, as leader of the Canadian Alliance, he would rest on
Sunday. But more recently, concern has been raised that his
values may foster a hidden agenda on serious issues such as
abortion, the death penalty and anti-Semitism. Day has responded
defensively, accusing the media of "yellow journalism"
and the other parties of smear tactics.
In a tone of
rationality, Joe Clark instilled the sobering reminder that
questions about a party leader's religious beliefs are legitimate
grounds for discussion. "All of us in public life have
to be judged by what we believe, what we do, how we perform,"
The real concern
for voters shouldn't be whether a leader is religious but
rather how his or her beliefs may affect performance and policies.
On that basis,
Day's religious values should spark concern for Canadians.
Based on his fundamentalist approach to Christianity, he is
bound to believe that his values are God's values (and vice
a logical progression for him to think that the only good
laws are those that agree with his values. The Puritans did
it, Prohibition was based on it and the "Religious Right"
is inspired by it. Day is their "man," their best
hope for establishing (some would say re-establishing) a country
based on Christian principles. For Day and his followers,
when push comes to shove, God takes priority over Nation.
The other party
leaders have taken strong exception to Day's religious stance.
NDP leader Alexa McDonough called it "super-religiosity,"
and Prime Minister Jean Chretien warned of "dark forces."
me is that both the Liberals and the NDP fail to recognize
the extent to which they are inspired by a modern form of
religious belief - worship of the Self. This adoration of
a consuming, narcissistic Self which wants everything "my
way" is no less morally opinionated than is the Bible
thumpers' adoration of God.
While Day might
put God above nation, those prone to this secular faith put
the diverse wants of the individual over the unified good
of the country. Acting as if they were the anointed, they
promote a vision based on cosmic justice, in which all are
not to be judged by the same rules or standards, and in which
therapeutic principles promise to heal society of all violence,
ignorance, anger and despair.
They are the ones who gave us equality instead of quality,
individual rights without corresponding responsibility and
exaggerated expectations without obligations. They abandoned
character building in favour of self-esteem and rewarded whining
instead of backbone. They have undermined the role of parents
by undermining discipline and establishing surrogate parenting
under the name of child protection.
They have isolated men from women, depicting male-female
relationships as violence-prone. They have taught us that
when things don't work, there is no need to assess our own
shortcomings. And, with their assistance, we have learned
how to blame others, all of society and even past generations.
They have opened the way for us to litigate our unhappiness
and set up vast systems of counseling and compensation to
"heal" our emotional "wounds."
We live in
perpetual dissatisfaction. Canadians have become consumers,
wanting more and more and more to make us happy. Lost in this
cult of the Self is any sense of honour, respect, duty or
national pride. As Herman Melville once put it: "We (have)
become sad in the first place because we have nothing stirring
Only the Bloc
and the Conservatives offer anything close to stirring. But unfortunately for the rest of Canadian, Bloc leader Gilles
Duceppe, with his calls for sovereignty, rouses only the spirit
of the Quebecois. As for poor Joe Clark, he touches some of
us, myself included, with a nostalgic longing for a bygone
era when a nation could be governed by reason. Alas, he is
a "dinosaur," a statesman and a certain loser.
What I long
for is a national ideal lesser than God but larger and more
enduring than any individual citizen. As election day approaches,
I feel caught between two groups of "true believers";
the moralists who take their orders from God (as they perceive
him) and the naive idealists who, taking "The Word"
of psychologists, sociologists and feminists, lead us further
and further astray.
We have leaders
who see visions but not one of them, it seems, has a vision