Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 26, 2005
Be involved in political process
Fed up with politicians and the federal election? If so, you're one of the majority. Seventy per cent of Canadians say they don't believe politicians will keep their promises. And with good reason.
It all started with Pierre Trudeau's vigorous 1974 campaign against wage and price controls. It won Trudeau the election and then, less than two years later, he implemented those wage and price controls he had campaigned against. Most recently, Dalton McGuinty signed a document saying he would not raise taxes without approval from voters in a referendum. It helped make him premier of Ontario. Two years later . . . he raised taxes without holding a referendum.
Broken promises are only one thing. There was also the siphoning off of millions of taxpayer dollars in the sponsorship scandal. Then there is the daily posturing, bombastic attacks and feigned indignation that can only leave voters feeling like they live in a house of mirrors.
Politicians themselves seem oblivious to the contempt and disbelief in which millions of Canadians hold them. No doubt, most who enter political life are well-intentioned; many make notable personal sacrifices. But it would seem that the closer one gets to having one's hand on the levers of power, the more principles take a back seat to power.
One may well be inclined to turn one's back on this circus and pretend it doesn't exist. On Jan. 23, voter turnout may well drop close to 50 per cent.
But take courage from Pope John Paul's 1988 advice to the laity: "Charges of careerism, idolatry of power, egoism and corruption that are oftentimes directed at persons in government, parliaments, the ruling classes or political parties, as well as the common opinion that participating in politics is an absolute moral danger, does not in the least justify either skepticism or an absence of Christians in public life" (The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, 42).
Christians must be involved in the political process, the late pope argued. Their participation must be grounded in their own participation in the life of the Church and in knowledge of Church social doctrine.
Moreover, politically involved Christians must avoid any split between faith and life. They cannot believe that faith is a private affair which should have no effect on how they act in public life. Faith must illuminate and guide their every step - just as it must guide the steps of parents and people in every other career. Otherwise, what is the point of being a Christian?
While the Church does not endorse any political party or ideology, Christians must bear witness to their faith through their actions, the pope said. "The lay faithful must bear witness to those human and Gospel values that are intimately connected with political activity itself, such as liberty and justice, solidarity, faithful and unselfish dedication for the good of all, a simple lifestyle, and a preferential option for the poor and the least."
Christians cannot leave the field of politics to secular humanists and those who cast morality aside in the quest for power. We need to be involved as candidates, campaign workers, donors, electoral officials and, especially, as voters.
It is not easy to provide guidance on which candidate or party a Christian should support. One can take one's cue from those "human and Gospel values" mentioned by the late pope. Moreover, one should steer clear of those who support abortion, euthanasia, or a distorted understanding of marriage and family.
The decision is not an easy one. One should not automatically support one party election after election without serious reflection on the parties, Church teaching and the changing situation of the country. But involved we must be. Our involvement must be conscientious and it must reflect our commitment to Jesus and his Church.
- Glen Argan
Letter to the Editor - 01/16/06
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