Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Religion and politics in Canada

Tom Cerber calls our attention to this article about conservative Christian activists gaining a share of political influence in Canada. What’s noteworthy is that some of the candidates who have gained nominations are recent immigrants, who in previous generations would likely have found a home in Canada’s Liberal Party, rather than with the Conservatives.

For more on religion and politics in Canada, go here, here, and here.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Just enough "influence" to keep the Conservatives out of power--despite the scandals that have plagued the Liberals--by making moderates like Belinda Stronach uncomfortable in the Tory party!

"Moderate" is one of the most abused terms in Canadian politics. Robert Fulford, a editorialist for the National Post, once referred to self-styled "moderates" as extremist moderates. It’s another term for relativism. For example, the media like to spin Canada’s complete lack of abortion laws and regulations as "moderate." Well, if having an absolute ban on abortion is extreme, then having absolutely no ban on abortion is the other extreme.

Canada is run by liberal extremists who know nothing of sophrosyne.

True, but I myself would never confuse moderation and relativism. Moderation implies that a reasonable man or woman of state can weigh or balance the claims of the partisans and pure ideologists, giving each its due, but no more than its due. Relativism implies the opposite--tha the conflict of values is truly tragic and cannot be resolved by any kind of reasonableness, political or theoretical. (see Leo Strauss’s essay on Max Weber in Natural Right and History). The moderate man or woman of state is not inclined to dwell on issues like abortion, which almost necessarily excite and exacerbate sectarian passions, and which cannot be "happily" resolved by any overarching public policy, however "liberal" or "draconian" or in the middle.



I think then the issue of moderation as it pertains to abortion is one of strategy. Abortion *may* inflame sectarian passions, but not necessarily. In Canada and the US, a large segment in the political middle approves of some form of regulation - the extremes are on either side of the debate.

US legislators seem to have found productive ways to find this middle ground in their regulations especially of late-term and "partial birth" abortions. It’s pretty hard for even pro-choice extremists to defend partial birth abortions. Other legislative efforts have focused on parental notification.

In other words, one can avoid inflaming sectarian passions by showing how ridiculous they really are - by illuminating how they try to defend the indefensible.

The Canadian political system has fewer inputs for these forms of legislative efforts, though it’s not completely hopeless. However, proponents for abortion regulations have been slow to learn from the success of their American counterparts.

Moreover, Canadian socons tend not to understand the limitations of single-issue activism. The pressure to create coalitions - which facilitates moderation - seems to be more pronounced in the US system. I’m doubtful that the Canadian system, with its greater centralization of power, makes such coalition building as rewarding.

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