I am an ex Conservative voter. I maintain that I didn’t leave them, they left me.
I have voted for three different parties in the four federal elections I’ve participated in, only the Conservatives twice. The two Conservative MPs I’ve voted for both have my respect. They are good people. They have done great things for their constituents. One of them was such a great MP I debated becoming a party member. The conservatives have done some good things while they’ve been in power. The repealing of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was a good move. I was writing about it back in 2008. I also have high praise for Jim Flaherty. He was a great finance minister and I feel that the Conservatives successes with the Canadian economy should be attached to him and not to Stephen Harper. I also wonder what he would have thought about Harper criticizing Trudeau that you shouldn’t run a deficit in a recession, when that is exactly what Flaherty did to help the Canadian economy during the recession in 2008.
But, I can’t vote Conservative again.
I can’t vote Conservative because I can’t align my faith and beliefs with it.
I feel that a Christian, especially one who holds political power, must follow the command from Micah “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
In addition to justice and mercy I believe in peace and non-resistance.
With that in mind I turn my attention to bills C-24 & C-44, calling for more military action in response to the crisis in Syria, and in general to the Conservatives “Law and Order” agenda
Bill C-24: Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act
This act actually does a few good things, such as properly defining residency, but it also allows the government to strip the citizenship away from dual citizens or people who are eligible for dual citizenship without them ever going before a Canadian judge. One of the first people it’s being used against was born right here in Canada.
If someone is convicted of a terrorism related offence in Canada or overseas, or it is believed by the Minister (not a judge, but a politician) that they have been involved terrorism related activity or “may engage” in it in the future their citizenship may be stripped from them by order of the Minister.
This law could be used against journalists like Mohamed Fahmy, or against young offenders like Omar Khadr. I don’t believe the current government would do it, but when a law has to rely on the benevolence of the government in power there’s a problem.
But it can only be used against terrorists you say? Mohamed Fahmy was convicted of terrorism for being critical of the government. Turkey is now considering possession of a device with encryption on it as terrorism (most of our smart phones will have encryption in the next two years). Other countries are using “terrorism” as the charge when arresting peaceful protesters.
This is not justice in any way. If you want to keep this as a penalty there might be a way to do it, but not when you’re allowing this to happen to people who have never been in front of a Canadian judge.
Bill C-44 Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act
I’ve written about Bill C-44 before. This is the bill that will allow the CSIS to not divulge the identity of their witnesses to the accused, the accused’s lawyer, or the judge. Bill C-51 part 4 makes appealing this even harder. Yes, the Conservatives have decided that judges are a security risk. Again, this is an affront to both Justice and to Mercy. There are reasons why we’re allowed to confront our accusers and a law like this seems designed to be abused.
I wrote about this last week, but the key bit is that in response to the refugee crisis in Syria on Thursday Stephen Harper said this:
“And I don’t know how you look at these images and conclude we should walk away and let those people be killed because we don’t want to participate in a military engagement. I think that’s completely irresponsible. Our reaction is we’re doing everything. We need to do more. We will do more on every front” source
I categorically reject the call for more military action. MCC has put out many good statements on this but I feel that they were right to begin with Psalm 33:17 “The war horse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save”. We can stand with MCC on this, calling on the Canadian government to work toward a ceasefire and a negotiated peace settlement. Or even to focus on humanitarian aid, food, clothing, ensuring safe passage to refugee accepting countries, helping with security checks, in general I want a government that works for Peace, not War.
Law and Order
In addition to instituting mandatory sentences and increasing the length of other sentences the government’s has recently decreased funding for criminal rehabilitation programs. Apparently the money has been redirected into programs aimed at stopping people from becoming criminals in the first place, which is admirable, but working to rehabilitate criminals is just as important. Canada had one of the lowest re-offend rates in the world. Our prison programs ensured that those who had paid their debts to society had the skills and education to find a life outside of crime. There is no tempering of mercy to the Conservatives justice. And for that alone it is counter to what God asks us to do.
That lack of mercy is with Canadian prisoners. Regarding foreign prisoners, and not even getting into the lack of concern they showed for Canadians imprisoned on false pretenses overseas, such as Mohamed Fahmy, the Conservatives have allowed CSIS to work with other countries to receive and obtain information acquired through torture (2010 directive by Minister of Public Safety). That alone was the biggest reason I didn’t vote for the Conservatives last time.
Bill C-51 is also a problematic bill but I won’t get into it here except to point out that it includes a worrying removal of one of the most basic checks in our justice system, the warrant, and also redefines “terrorism related offenses” to be so broad that certain types of protest or criticism of diplomatic allies may now be illegal (there’s some debate on this point still).
I have three reasons not to vote Conservative again: Justice, Mercy, and Peace.