Dear God

Four months ago, Andrew Nikiforuk theorized that the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs explained the Harper government’s approach to environmental issues. Lawrence Martin picked up the theory this week and concluded that “if his government’s policy-making in important areas like the environment is being motivated by religious faith at the expense of reason, it is cause for debate.” The Post’s Charlie Lewis then raised a number of issues with this theorizing and wondering. And now Lorna Dueck adds her thoughts.

In 2007, Mr. Harper said climate change was “perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today.” And when last I checked, the Prime Minister believed that “preponderance of scientific evidence and opinion is that climate change is a very real challenge.”

But ultimately leaders have to translate the necessity of dealing with the challenge in the science of climate change with the very real impacts that trying to deal with it will have on our economy. And we should not try and kid people on this. I know people… there’ll be people running out there saying targets are not hard enough. But let me assure you what we and others are committed to do over the next decade will have real impacts and real challenges on players and the Canadian economy, but we’ll obviously work with them to ensure that we balance these objectives of environmental protection and progress with economic growth.

That seems a fairly straightforward explanation of the Harper government’s environmental policy: something should be done about climate change, but that something should be balanced against the need for economic growth. (The debate about the environment isn’t really about whether something should be done anymore, but rather what constitutes “balance.”)

Nonetheless, is the Harper government’s approach to climate change informed by religious belief? No one really knows. Nikiforuk concedes as much. He just then proceeds to substitute his own answer.

Faith is not the concern here. But transparency and full disclosure has become the issue of paramount importance. To date, Harper has refused to answer media questions about his beliefs or which groups inform them. If he answered media queries about his minority creed (and fewer than 10 per cent of Canadians would call themselves evangelicals) he’d have to admit that he openly sympathizes if not endorses what’s known as “evangelical climate skepticism.”

That’s one theory. Another is that he openly sympathizes with public opinion and enjoys winning the necessary number of votes to remain Prime Minister.

Mr. Harper outlined his thoughts on religion and politics in response to a question from Faith Today in 2007. He and Jack Layton seemed to agree that faith could inform public policy. Mr. Layton’s upbringing around the United Church was explained in John Geddes’ 2011 profile. No doubt Mr. Harper is somehow influenced by his own religious experiences as well and further understanding that would further our understanding of him.

So, by all means, the Prime Minister might be asked to explain his faith, his views on climate change and if or how those two things overlap. Indeed, if his religious beliefs have policy implications in this regard it would actually mark a pretty significant break from his handling of other issues. A sidebar to Nikiforuk’s essay, notes that Mr. Harper’s church opposes homosexual relationships and abortion, but the Prime Minister hasn’t given any indication that he’s interested in using his majority mandate to outlaw same-sex marriage or restrict access to abortion.

One other thought: What would it matter if it turned out that the Harper government’s approach to environmental issues was informed by religious belief? Would anyone’s opinion of the government’s approach be changed? Would anyone think differently of the Prime Minister as a result?




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Dear God

  1. Canada has had 22 prime ministers. As far as we know, all of them were religious.

    It’s never been a question or a problem before. All former PMs have managed to separate their job from their personal beliefs.

    It has become a topic now because everyone is aware of how Harper’s religion shapes his policies, and how dangerous that is.

  2. Dear God, you Liberals are still dragging out the old secret religious agenda after Canadians have rejected you 3 elections in a row.
    Let me try to connect Harper`s religious beliefs with his actions: If a slippery character like Adam Carroll were to work for the Conservative Party and commit personal attacks against a political opponent that Carroll did to Toews, then Harper`s religious beliefs would convince him to fire his sorry a$$ and not rehire him month`s later.
    Now, let`s talk about the lack of religious beliefs of Liberal Party leaders that would lead them to rehire this character.

    • Apart from acting without the authority of his superiors, what exactly did Carroll do wrong?

      • You’re absolutely right, Carroll did nothing wrong. I for one am looking forward to the next election when every candidates previous divorce filings will be made public and we’ll find out why it is that Mulcair had to re-mortgage his house a dozen times.

        And I guess it’ll be okay for government staffers to use any and all government IT equipment all day long on partisan campaign activities. Surely this will raise the political discourse in Canada by leaps and bounds.

        Should be great!

        • Isn’t tht what that assistant of Jason Kenney’s was doing?

          • I don’t know what you’re talking about, but apparently you’re OK with it. Unless you’re saying it’s wrong for one side to do it but OK for the other.

          • No Rick, I’ll go for your challenge: if any other candidates have impregnated a teenage babysitter while in Cabinet, I would be ok with them having to declare it.

    • So why wasn’t Soudas fired on the spot when this happened:

      “In 2009 Soudas was forced to apologize for providing incorrect information to Prime Minister Stephen Harper regarding statements attributed to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. At the G8 on the world stage, Harper was obliged to retract his statements about domestic political matters in the midst of a meeting surrounding the world’s current economic crisis”

      • Because the information Soudas gave wasn’t true. Obviously, if Ignatieff had really said those things, Soudas would have deserved to have been fired for making personal attacks. But because he didn’t, then Soudas was just making up fanciful tales.. nothing wrong with that, right?

    • Kasra Nejatian refutes you.

      • To say nothing of Ryan Sparrow.

    • What religious beliefs of Harper’s have him hiring and job creating for the likes of Bruce Carson?

  3. Stephen Harper is to Canada as Maurice Duplessis was to Quebec.

  4. “So, by all means, the Prime Minister might be asked to explain his faith, his views on climate change and if or how those two things overlap. Indeed, if his religious beliefs have policy implications in this regard it would actually mark a pretty significant break from his handling of other issues. A sidebar to Nikiforuk’s essay, notes that Mr. Harper’s church opposes homosexual relationships and abortion, but the Prime Minister hasn’t given any indication that he’s interested in using his majority mandate to outlaw same-sex marriage or restrict access to abortion.”

    Well you forgot to mention that Harper has used his position as PM to limit abortions over seas so while he may have not used the “majority” to restrict abortions he has formed policy based on his religious views contrary to your belief that hasn’t been the case.

    So that just leaves us with one policy that doesn’t jive with his religious views, same-sex marriage and I’m sure it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he hasn’t touched that. Is this really what the author is defending Harper on? That because he hasn’t touched same-sex marriage proves his religious views do not dictate his policy making?

    What about his attack on science, facts and truth?

    What about his ideology of lassize-fair economics, does it not reflect his religious belief?

    And please lets not forgot that trial balloons have been sent up in regards to abortion and same-sex marriage, for a very good reason.

    • *Sigh* Please explain how Harper used his position as PM to limit abortions overseas. Oh you can’t because he didn’t? Okay then, keep the lies coming.

        • So by funding Planned Parenthood, the government is “limiting abortions overseas”?

          Or are you trying to say that the federal government is “limiting abortions overseas” any time it doesn’t directly fund abortions overseas?

          Is the federal government “limiting access to clean water in Arizona”, just because they’re not providing funding for it? Is it your opinion that the government is limiting access to anything that it doesn’t directly pay for?

          QED.

          • Liberals are like Jehovah Witnesses:
            They believe that to be a true Witness (Liberal) you must not only live the life of a Liberal (Witness), you must spread your doctrine around the neighbourhood, around the world,—if you believe in Planned parenthood then it is your duty to encourage abortions globally.

          • I get it now – it’s Projection Thursday on here.

          • “In the beginning the universe was created. This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move”

            A.D.

  5. Too bad Marci McDonald is now among the disappeared. We could ask her
    what she thought.

  6. The NDP comes from the social gospel tradition and has had several ministers (and at least one Catholic priest) as MP’s. Of course policy can come from faith. People don’t live in intellectual silos.

    • Policy can come from astrology too, that doesn’t mean it should.

  7. Where his religious beliefs have policy implications only matters in the cases where the beliefs contradict scientific evidence.

    Honestly, I’ve seen little evidence of that.

    More concerning is where his ideological beliefs contradict science, statistics, and the logical consequences of action: his tough on crime legislation, his power centralization, his attacks on government transparency, and public accountability, and of course his outright lying on various things such as softwood lumber, appointed senators (I still remember you, Mr. Fortier!), etc.

  8. If the nation elected a Buddhist as PM, it would be punditpalooza. “What are the implications for the economy?” “What does this mean for foreign policy?” Gasp, gasp, hand-wring, speculate. Maybe that’s as it should be. Dunno.

    But what’s so different here?

  9. Of course Harper isn’t going to attack abortion, gay marriage, etc. That’s not going to win him any votes. In fact, it will lose him votes, and possibly his coveted position of PM. Religion shouldn’t matter unless you use it to justify violence, to push your beliefs onto others, or, in Harper’s case, to contradict facts and science. There is little evidence that Harper’s attack on science, facts, and the environment has anything to do with his religion…..but if it does, that is definitely cause for debate. I think Harper’s attack on science, facts and the environment stems from his economic beliefs and inability to balance economy, environment and social justice. His solution…..addicts are criminals, lock them up……the environment gets in the way of economic growth, so eliminate environmental regs, silence scientists, and try to eliminate environmental charities.

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