Binkley Report — On religion and politics

 

Alex Binkley is a foremost political and economic analyst. Readers will be aware that his columns in True North Perspective have foreseen political and economic developments in Canada. This week in ... 

The Binkley Report

Is this religious belief at its best?

Now would be a good time to get to know your MP

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

There’s an intriguing sidebar to the Parliamentary report Not to be Forgotten about caring for vulnerable Canadians.

The three co-chairs of the all-party committee that prepared the 191-page report are real Christians. They don’t come with the in-your-face preachy annoyance of so many evangelicals and fundamentalists.

They are the walk-the-talk of your religion kind. Many of the 55 MPs who participated in the committee’s deliberations would fall in that camp as well.

Now you didn’t read about this in the mainstream media. The person who connected the dots is author and Parliamentary Press Gallery colleague Lloyd Mackey, who writes an Ottawa Watch column for Christian newspapers.

He’s also written several books on Canadian politics including More Faithful Than We Think about the influence of Christian beliefs on Canadian politics.

One of the intriguing aspects of modern society is the abundance of these kinds of folks from all religions who are motivated to public and community service by their beliefs. Their contribution can be as modest as volunteering or as high profile as holding elected office.

We hear plenty from the atheists, agnostics and other sorts of non believers just as we do the thumpers of holy books. And skeptics abound along with lots of the plain old disinterested. One wonders if their record of public service is comparable.

Most of our recent prime ministers were influenced by their religious beliefs.

To Mackey, the significant point of the mix of religion and politics is that the three MPs who co-chaired the committee — Conservative Harold Albrecht, Liberal Frank Valeriote and NDPer Joe Comartin “can talk and work together across party lines — with the tacit approval of the leaders of their parties. And, arguably, one of the reasons they can do so is because of the collaborative and conciliatory concepts that are integral to their commonly-held, if slightly divergent, faith.

“If you watch for any of the three in parliamentary debate, you will find that they will stoutly defend their own parties’ positions and even take gentle digs at their opponents,” Mackey says. “That is all part of the adversarial nature of our Parliamentary system.”

But when not having to perform for the show, these MPs could discuss the weighty matters that appear in the pages of Not to be Forgotten. And if they can do that in the nasty atmosphere of the current Parliament, then there’s some hope that it will rise above its current distasteful level of discourse. Perhaps, they will even have a response from the Harper government that matches the tone of the report.

My father would have appreciated Messer’s Albrecht, Comartin and Valeriote. Like them, he was a walk-the-talk, actions speak louder than words gentleman who was motivated by his religious beliefs.

He acted on them rather than wear them on his sleeve.

The report is available online at http://pcpcc-cpspsc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ReportEN.pdf or ask your MP to get a copy. If you don’t know who your MP is, this would be a good time to find out. One way is at www.parl.gc.ca.

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