Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 23, 2006
Make yours an informed vote
Election 2006 tells audience to get involved in politics
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
The Edmonton Archdiocese wants you to be informed and get involved in election campaigns so you can address the moral and ethical issues concerning Christians.
More than 30 people, including members of the Catholic Women's League, attended a three-hour political workshop Jan. 14 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre titled Election 2006 and Beyond.
"I wish there were 1,000 people here," said John MacDonald, director of family life and health care for the archdiocese. "Still, it's a good start. As Catholics, we need to be concerned with what the future of Canada will look like. We need to take an active interest and be a part of future developments."
MacDonald was instrumental in organizing the event that heard an abundance of ideas how men and women concerned with Christian values can take the first steps toward having an impact on the political process. The group offered numerous methods how to maximize awareness.
The workshop was conceived in the late stages of the current federal election. MacDonald wanted to develop a short-term strategy for the 2006 election and lay a foundation to address issues in future elections.
"Many of the other Christian denominations across the country are starting to get involved. They say it is time for us to speak up," MacDonald said.
"We have to have something in place that mobilizes our community to inform what the issues are out there.
"As the Church, we are not politicized toward any party or candidate. What we want are the very best people we can elect to represent us at all levels of government."
Invited speakers included former MLA Julius Yankowsky and Father Paul Moret, vocations director for the archdiocese.
Both men stressed that it is incumbent upon a person to vote and to do so with regard to fundamental human values. They presented observations from both state and Church viewpoints.
"I was born into a family that wasn't very political. We talked politics to some extent and my parents voted, but that's as far as it went," said Yankowsky, former MLA for Edmonton Beverly-Belmont.
Yankowsky is a pro-life advocate and a proponent of the traditional definition of marriage.
As a highway surveyor with the Alberta government, Yankowsky had no thoughts of a life in politics.
In the early 1980s while listening to a first minister's conference on television, Yankowsky was inspired to get involved. "It was a strong calling and I didn't give up," he said. "It was an awakening."
Yankowsky eventually went on to serve three terms in the legislature - first as a Liberal and later as a Progressive Conservative.
"People can make a change when they get involved. The key is to get involved early. Call the constituency office and say you would like to purchase a membership. Have a chat with the president.
"Gather some like-minded friends so they can get involved as well to support you because politics is a numbers game. Those who get the most votes win."
Spreading the Christian message can be done through fliers to high schools, special Masses or further workshops. Telephone calls to politicians or establishing small parish groups centred around political issues are ways to heighten awareness of the concerns of Christians.
MacDonald said prayer is an unused resource.
Moret said some people are willing to vote in an election but are reluctant to run as candidates because of the effort and time commitment required.
"We must look back to the history of the saints who were not so heavenly minded that they were of no earthly good. The fact is that because they were so heavenly minded, they made it their business to get involved in the things of this world, like setting up schools and hospitals in order to help people."
The nature of the Catholic faith means to get involved, Moret said.
"Running for office is tremendous, but there are many ways each of us can be involved. There is the whole reality of casting an informed vote.
"Voting for someone because he is Catholic does not necessarily mean he is going to stand up for what is right and to allow for his Christian principles. This is not the basis to be electing people."
Catholic Women's League
Mable Solomon is president of the archdiocesan Catholic Women's League. "I put the call out to the CWL members to come to this workshop because we are voters and we can make a difference if we put our minds to it," she said.
Mario Nardelli knows first-hand what impact a letter to a member of Parliament can have. He is campaign co-manager for Rona Ambrose, MP for Edmonton-Spruce Grove.
"We have very little democracy left and our senior citizens are very upset," he said, passionately.
"For God's sake, get involved. Sending a letter to your MP costs you nothing. You do not have to put a stamp on the envelope."