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Stephen Harper and the Religious Right

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

What is the religious right?


Anti-bullying too radical for Ontario religious right

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

303.1 Every board shall support pupils who want to establish and lead,(a) activities or organizations that promote gender equity;(b) activities or organizations that promote anti-racism;(c) activities or organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people with disabilities; or(d) activities or organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name.

Ontario Legislature
The first week of December Charles McVety and friends, including his provincial political sidekick Rondo Thomas held a news conference sponsored at Queen’s Park by MPP Frank Klees to express his and their displeasure of Bill C-13,  Accepting Schools Act, or the anti-bullying bill, which is supported by the Ontario opposition parties.  As well the bill is supported by public and Catholic educators.

The religious right news conference was called because of upset over the last clause above – which gets twisted into the most God-awful anti-gay nonsense in McVetys fundamentalist world. His website, Stop Corrupting Children, set up to oppose anti-bullying, blends gay-straight alliances into persecution of churches using school properties to curriculum guides for Ontario schools. Never mind what one has to do with the other as long as enough outrage and confusion can be generated. Jack Fonseca, (Campaign Life Catholic) who is not a Catholic educator stated that parents are outraged.  Not so fast Jack. Stick with the legislation and stop attacking anothers Catholic  faith.

“With respect to the premier being Catholic, the Catholic Church has very clear moral doctrine … And it’s not changeable,” Fonseca said Tuesday. “Dalton McGuinty, nor any other person that wears the cultural badge of Catholic and goes to church in order to look good come election time — they don’t have the right to change Catholic teaching.

“So, Dalton McGuinty, unfortunately, he’s not a great Catholic on the moral issues. He supports abortion on demand, he supports taxpayer funding of abortion, he supports gay marriage, he opposes the traditional definition of marriage in law. That’s not a very strong Catholic.”

Rondo Thomas came out with some whoppers such as: The premier’s mother said to him, ‘Dalton, I didn’t raise you this way.’ I rest my case.” The Premier’s mother did no such thing. James Bow at Bow. James Bow. was outraged at the Rondo Thomas performance, but not for reasons the men at the table think. The media conference below did not get quite the outraged support that I think was the objective. The support of MPPs on both sides of the aisle is not there.

This media conference is an education on the religious right, complete with buzzwords, the muddling and misinformation.

The next step is the email blasts, (the severe ‘backlash of the 10s of thousands’!) through the various groups McVety represents, including his Institute for Canadian Values. This one went out this week.

I want to personally thank you for taking a stand to protect children from Dalton McGuinty’s radical six gender education.

Your voice is making a difference.

Many people ask me why McGuinty is forcing every child in Ontario schools to question his or her gender and for Catholic Christian schools to have homosexual clubs.

I believe the answer is that he is giving in to very aggressive special interest groups that want to indoctrinate our children to their way of thinking.
Since we alerted parents to this problem the Premier has been flooded with calls and emails. He needs more.
MPP’s with last names starting with letters N – Z did not receive your email.

The ‘unstoppable groundswell’ for MPP’s with last names starting with the letters N-Z just hasn’t happened yet. Heaven only knows what MPP’s with last names starting with A-M have received, if online reaction at McVety’s Canadian Times is any indication, even McVety Institute for Canadian Values supporters are wary this go-around.

The Ontario legislature is in recess until February 21st.


Hill Times interview with Dennis Gruending

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

How much real influence do these advocacy and lobby groups have at influencing public policy, such as the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada; the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies; the Institute for Canadian Values, the National House of Prayer, and 4MyCanada, Campaign for Life, the Catholic Civil Rights League, and REAL Women of Canada?

“Well, they believe they have much more traction with the Harper government than they had with the Liberals. I have seen a number of statements to this effect. But they win some and they lose some on the issues. The Institute of Marriage and the Family provides research and strategic advice for conservative causes and lobbied hard on the issue of same sex marriage, but they lost that one.

“They did win, however, on having the Conservatives ditch the public childcare initiative negotiated by Paul Martin with the provinces and territories, replacing it with a tax credit to middle class and wealthier families. REAL Women lobbied the Conservatives to have the Court Challenges Program eliminated and it was. They also wanted the Status of Women offices shut down. The Conservatives did not eliminate Status of Women entirely but they did cut them back severely and weakened their mandate. Religious conservatives seem to be getting pretty well everything they want on crime and Canadian support for Israel.

“But they should be careful. They have cast their lot with the Mr. Harper but he is playing a game with them. He wants them to think he is solidly on their side but he can’t give them everything that they want because that would turn off a majority of Canadians who want nothing to do with religious conservatives or with their agenda. Mr. Harper has disappointed religious conservatives on both the same-sex marriage and abortion issues. Some of them are beginning to believe that he is taking them for granted.”

Hill Times: Competition among religious ideologies will continue with ‘an enduring intensity,’ says Gruending

Pulpit and Politics: Competing Religious Ideologies in Canadian Public Life is available at Alpine Book Peddlers and will be available as an ebook .

Dennis blogs at Pulpit and Politics


National Post runs McVety family values ad

Friday, September 30th, 2011

An Ontario election ad placed in The National Post by Charles McVety’s  Institute for Family Values is being protested around Canada.

This is a continuation of McVety’s campaign started last year against proposed revisions to Ontario’s sex ed program, including classic ‘family value’ false claims. A few:

-optional lessons aren’t mandatory
- like other Canadian provinces education is age appropriate
-teaching resource guide material is not curriculum

You can contact Enzo Loschiavo, Advertising Manager of The National Post.

The National Post’s manager of advertising sales Enzo Loschiavo says the newspaper has received many complaints about the ad and he’s not sure how it ended up in the newspaper.

“The Post wouldn’t generally run this,” Loschiavo says. “We’ll probably take a stance on not running it again.”


You can contact Advertising Standards Canada  (14. Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals)


The Canadian Values campaign is particularly disappointing given that the province has yet to restart consultations or reintroduce its new curriculum as it had promised when it postponed the launch last year.

I think Christians need to stand with GLBT and human rights activists in denouncing this latest attention grabber by McVety’s  Institute for Canadian Values. No other media outlet in Canada ran this ad (think about that for a moment), nor has any media outlet promoted the running of this ad.* (*See comments – BD)

Update: Kudos. The National Post apologizes.

Update: The Toronto Sun runs McVety’s ad, slightly altered.

Update: During the Ontario provincial election the Tories put out flyers with similar claims to the McVety ads. The Toronto District School Board asked for an apology, the Conservatives say they won’t give one. A formal complaint will be filed, with the option of a lawsuit.


Update to Cranmer Foundation activist Mike Daley/Michael Bracci

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

My sincere thank you to Richard Bartholomew of  Barthlomew’s Notes on Religion for a followup on this post: The Anglican Right and the Cramner Foundation of Canada.

A commenter pointed out that Mike Daley was really a fellow named Michael Gordon Bracci. Bracci went to the UK and resurfaced on Twitter as Lord Credo. He’s been a busy guy since his cyber-squatting and deception in Canada. The Blog That Peter Wrote chronicles  Bracci’s lies as Lord Credo:

In brief this is the picture of how he has portrayed of himself:

- He was David Cameron’s personal advisor and representative
- He reported only and personally to David Cameron and the Chief Whip
- Only the Chief Whip and his “good friend” William Hague knew his identity online
- He was on the same level with Andy Coulson, was offered his job, but refused it
- He previously worked for the Canadian PM and was personally head-hunted to work for ours
- Somehow, however, he also fitted in working for the Archbishop of Canterbury in comms
- He had read theology, trained as a priest, worked as a policeman briefly in Ontario, then as a pilot, before going into politics/ communications. He suffers from MS.

Credo resigned his job for David Cameron in May, but is currently on gardening leave.  This was because of a personal falling out, even though the Prime Minister has apparently called him and begged him to return to his job.  It coincides with the diagnosis of a brain tumour (more on this later).

Credo’s “offline” name is Mike Paterson.  He has always taken pains to protect his identity, because he is so “high level”.  I did hear him give this name, however, in my presence to officers of the Essex Constabulary in May 2011.

Mike Daley/Paterson/Lord Credo/Bracci landed himself an interview at The Huffington Post as one of four high level Tories Who Tweet Anonymously.

During his time in the UK as Mike Paterson, he took advantage of people’s kindness this past summer, crashing at various homes, borrowing money and not paying it back, and escalating his deception. He announced on his Lord Credo twitter feed that he had a malignant brain tumour, telling his long suffering hosts offline about his ‘late’ wife, who turns out to be alive and well:

Mike is still married.  His wife is not a dead medical doctor in Sydney, but in fact teaches philosophy at an American university.  She is a former evangelical Christian, turned traditionalist.  From what I can see on line she appears to be very much alive.  She did grow up in the Black Forest, which he had mentioned a couple of times to me about his “late wife”.  She talks in one Canadian magazine interview about their traditional marriage and how her husband Mike has moved to London for a job in PR, but that they make things work.  I’ve no idea if she knows about his now girlfriend and how that fits in exactly with this viewpoint.

Before his deception in the UK unravelled  offline the past week, Bracci approached Richard Bartholmew as Lord Credo:

I became aware of “Lord Credo” a few months ago, when he offered to bring complaints by Tim Ireland about Nadine Dorries’ conduct and its consequences to the attention of Cameron’s office. Tim agreed to send him documentation in return for proof of delivery, at which point “Lord Credo” became hostile and jumped on the smear-against-Tim bandwagon (a bandwagon which more than one cyber-thug has found it convenient to join).

When his Lord Credo/Mike Paterson deception collapsed, Bracci, who had no “residency or work permit” to be in the UK,  hightailed it back to Canada. As Lord Credo, he tweeted that within a few hours of landing his mother died. His mother is alive and well. He deleted his Twitter account and threatened to commit suicide if  Peter at The Blog That Peter Wrote did not remove his post:

20/8 Additional Information: Credo admitted in public on his profile, after this post was published, that he was a liar.  He then deleted the profile.  He has been in constant IM contact with me throughout today, threatening suicide at one moment if I did not remove this blog (only to ask 10 minutes later: “are you still there?”), through to begging for forgiveness, and then justifying his actions.  He’s admitted that his wife is not dead and says he’s in contact with her.  I’m simply screen saving everything, refusing to let him manipulate me in the way he wants, and warning him to steer clear of anyone in my circle of friends.

For anyone thinking “whatever” I want to stress this is not about a fake Twitter account – it’s about a person who has used the medium to trick people in real life and caused massive upset.  Help he clearly needs, but my responsibility is to those I care about, which is why I published this.

21/8 Finally, according to his girfriend (and as tweeted by her) his mother is “very much alive” and she has spoken to her.  She has also tweeted that Michael conned her personally out of £15,000.

In the 2 years Michael Bracci was in the UK, he managed to deceive elected government officials, media and bureaucrats, and people who befriended him.  I’ve no doubt the PMO never heard of him. Given his years of fantasying, roleplaying and shit-disturbing, it’s likely Bracci will surface with another online confidence game sooner than later.

Who’s blogging?

Joshua Lachkovic’s Blog: How did Downing Street not know about Lord Credo?

Admiral PR: Out-twitted: how@Lord Credo used Twitter to con his friends and 4,400 followers


BC’s John Cummins says Canadian GLBT don’t need human rights protection

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

BC Conservative Party leader candidate John Cummins says being gay is a choice. Cummins is the uncontested candidate for leader of the party, which holds it’s leadership vote May 28th.  Cummins made the remark during an interview on CFAX. The Times Colonist:

“I’m not a scientist” but “some of the research tells me that there’s more of an indication that that’s a choice issue,” he said.

Cummins went on to say homosexuals and lesbians do not need special human rights protection because “people are already protected under the human rights code. In my view it was not necessary to add another category.

“They have the same rights under the Human Rights Act as you and I. Nobody is coming to me and saying whatever I do behind closed doors is somebody else’s business.”

Cummins would not explain the basis for his views when asked before a rally at the Salvation Army Victoria Citadel in Saanich Wednesday night.

“I’m pro-life, I’m protraditional marriage, that’s my view, I’m not a scientist,” he said. “I’m not going to discuss that, they’re personal issues, private issues.”

If this is merely his personal opinion what is he doing discussing rights and choices in media interviews?

Asked by the Times Colonist if he believes crimes against homosexuals should be prosecuted as hate crimes, he said: “If there’s a crime against anybody, that crime should be dealt with to the full extent of the law and that’s it. Trying to determine motive, it puts it to a whole different level and I’m not comfortable with that.”

Cummins was a MP for Delta-Richmond East for 18 years. The fractious BC Conservative Party supposedly has about 8% voter support in the province according to polls, (Globe and Mail 12/28/10), and has about two thousand members.
via: Ex-Gay Watch


Is Chapters Indigo playing politics with paperback release of The Armageddon Factor?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

As I noted last week – Marci McDonald’s revised edition of The Armageddon Factor was released by Random House April 13, 2011. Being that it is a revised trade paperback which according to Random House is available, where is it?

How come I can’t get a copy from Chapters Indigo?
It’s a fair question I posed to a clerk from my local outlet.
(The book is available at independent booksellers)

The clerk was unaware The Armageddon Factor was out in paperback and told me that their shipping takes about 3 weeks, which is normal for this time of year.  Because Chapters Indigo is a chain, the stores put the books out when everyone else in the chain gets them.

She offered that as far as she knew her employer was waiting on the publisher to ship them.

Okay. Chapters Indigo is owned by Heather Reisman (CEO). She is married to Gerry Schartwz who is the Board Chair, President and CEO of Onex. They are friends of Stephen and Laureen Harper, and have been Conservative Party backers since 2006.
Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, is on loan to Harper by the Onex Corporation. Wright’s appointment is noted in the afterword of the updated and revised trade paperback.

Given the paperback was updated and out in time for the election I have a question.
Where is it? Is the revised edition sitting in  Chapters-Indigo warehouses?  The chain is in approximately 131  cities across Canada and I can appreciate delays, but the next obvious question is this.

Is Chapters Indigo holding back stocking this book until after May 2nd?
As asked in the post headline. Is this bookstore chain playing politics?

How would you like to help out? Give the nearest Chapters Indigo store a call and ask if the paperback is in. If it isn’t ask why not.  If you have an independent bookstore in your location, give them a call and see if they have it on the shelves, or if they can get it to you within the next few days and post your findings in the comment section.

The e-book is available, since, as far as I can tell Random House released it, and online sales aren’t held up in warehouses. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon Canada. The unrevised hardcover is also available at my local store.

Unfortunately the Chapters Indigo non-fiction blog does not allow comments, so readers willing to find out if their Chapters Indigo has the revised edition on their shelf will have to leave their information in the BDBO comment section.  When you use the online store finder, every location you can key in, lists the availabilty as 0. Zero. Go ahead, try it.

Given the kerfuffle with the hardcover release of The Armageddon Factor last year, the delay reaching Reisman’s bookstore shelves deserves an explanation.

If you were able to purchase a copy of the paperback from a Chapters Indigo outlet, pop into the comments and let us know.


McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor revealed Planned Parenthood International defunding

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

In the revised and updated paperback edition of The Armageddon Factor, author Marci McDonald writes about the defunding of International Planned Parenthood Federation after 40 years of co-operation with the Canadian government. Along with new material on Brad Trost, McDonald writes this after recapping the hue and cry over Bev Oda’s announcement that abortion would not be part of the governments G-8 initiative. The IPPF had promised to contact McDonald when they heard from CIDA.  That call never came.

“The controversy also obscured the fact that the G8 initiative paved the way for a larger shift: a zero-tolerance policy for funding any outfit that provided abortion services abroad. Thus Harper accomplished what George Bush had pulled off in the U.S. with a contentious executive order, but, unlike Bush, he did so without a single piece of legislation. Instead, aid organizations simply found their grant requests left unanswered or nixed without explanation until they got the message. When the International Planned Parenthood Federation found its bid to renew an $18-million program had been left in limbo for more than a year–a bid that had been targeted in a petition circulated by Conservative MP Brad Trost–it finally gave up and submitted a new proposal without the offending abortion provision. “The government of Canada has made it clear that it does not fund abortions,” shrugged IPPF spokesman Paul Bell.”

Page 370 The Armageddon Factor Marci McDonald Paperback edition 2011 Random House
The paperback edition is on bookstore shelves now.

Paul Bell, International Planned Parenthood Federation spokesman confirmed what is in the revised edition of The Armageddon Factor to the  Saskatoon Star Phoenix today:

Bell said an $18-million application for a three-year core funding grant submitted in 2009 was ignored. The group also still hasn’t heard back from the Conservative government regarding its funding request in 2010, for a $6-million grant.

That application fell within the lines of the Muskoka Initiative and did not include funding for abortion, Bell said, in an interview from London.

“What this government has made clear is that it won’t fund actual abortions, so that is what our bid was based on,” Bell told Postmedia News. “I know that last year, (Brad Trost) was pushing this hard anti-Planned Parenthood agenda and it is the kind of rhetoric that we observe all the time coming out of the U.S.

“It is the same language, it is the same tactics.”

The Armageddon Factor The Rise of The Christian Right in Canadian Politics – Facebook

Update: Marci McDonald is blogging here.

News and Roundups

Vote Pray – Violating the Elections Act?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Who is behind this website?

Vote Pray Serve was set up by a person or persons unknown on March 21, 2011, five days before the write was dropped  and according to Whois was registered by  Sibername Internet and Software Technologies Inc.

The website states it is run by a group of volunteers who are soliciting donations which are not tax deductible. That means this is not a charity. But what I’m not clear about is why they need to solicit funds for a grassroots get out the vote web page.

What are the Election Canada Rules?

Anyone can volunteer during an election for whoever they chose.  However registration is required when an individual or group spends $500.00. Elections Canada:

Third party
A “third party” is a person or a group, other than a candidate, registered party or electoral district association of a registered party.

A “group” means an unincorporated trade union, trade association or other group of persons acting together by mutual consent for a common purpose.

A person or group is considered to be a “third party” when incurring electoral advertising expenses during an election period to promote or oppose a registered party or the election of a candidate, including taking a position on an issue with which a registered party or a candidate is associated.

So far this group has a web page, a Facebook and a YouTube channel with two videos. While I doubt the production costs of the two videos and a web page domain and hosting purchase amounts to $500.00, there is no way of knowing. There is no way of knowing how much the volunteer group has received in donations.

What is also troubling is the lack of identification.

Elections Canada:

7. Identification of Election Advertising

The Act requires that a third party identify itself in any election advertising it sponsors and indicate that it has authorized the advertising. Failure to do so is an offence.
[352, 496(1)(b)]

The following wording is suggested:

“Authorized by the Coalition for High Technology Investment”


“Authorized by the United Computer Workers Association, Local 2213″

My question is simple. Does this group fall under the criteria for registration? Are they violating the Election Act?

What does this volunteer group promote? They say they set themselves up to vote, pray and serve, and then they go off into some murky territory.

ON IT is a movement of Canadians that are committing to voting, praying and serving in this upcoming election. Stay tuned here for videos, resources and sweet things you can be a part of leading up to the 41st Canadian election!

A click on the prayer tab and up pops Proverbs 29:2.  Up pops links to various charismatic and pentecostal prayer groups, with a list of what to pray about from  Nation at Prayer out of Pickering Ontario. Nation at Prayer was registered as a charity in 2006, a quick glance at the directors, and a familiar name popped up. Kerry Carmichael was a board member of Crossroads Christian Communications Inc.  This charity has expenses and revenue of nearly 100 thousand dollars.

As a complete aside, the Vote Pray Serve site promotes Family Values. Sound suspiciously like the Hope for TV campaign which Crossroads Television Network said it was issuing tax receipts for – the campaign which did not get charitable status. This also sounds like Charles McVety language. I digressed. Back to the topic at hand.

The serve tab gets really interesting.  Family friendly candidates are listed, with an encouragement to readers to get out and help them. There is also a plug for The Conservative Party, thinly disguised:

Catch 22: An “anything but Conservative” campaign has been launched to oust Conservative MPs from 22 ridings by endorsing the next leading candidate regardless of where they stand on issues. We encourage you to check out these ridings, find out who the family friendly MP is (regardless of his/her party) and get behind them as these ridings will be a tough battle for all the candidates. Click here to see the ridings.

Someone is not happy with some members of The Conservative Party, because when you check this list of approved candidates who ‘stand for morality you get what may be the parliamentary pro-life caucus;

THE VOTE THAT SHOWED THEIR TRUE COLOURS: Whether or not a candidate is truly strong on family issues comes through in the “tough” votes where an MP is challenged to choose between their conscience and party/political pressure. A vote that put MPs in this situation was Roxanne’s Law (C-510). Through Roxanne’s Law we clearly saw who the strong family values MPs were and who simply professed to be but were not willing to put their neck on the line when it mattered most (for women wanting to choose life).

Yes, the page claims Roxanne’s Law is not the key issue, but it’s the key issue. The message is, vote for these candidates if you are Christian who cares about righteous people ruling Canada.  REAL Women Canada and Campaign Life Canada are mentioned. REAL Women Canada is the Canadian arm of a right wing US group Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. REAL Women Canada is a registered lobby group.
Campaign Life Canada is a well known anti-abortion group run by Jim Hughes. They are running a get out the vote video on their site.

There are 89 candidates listed of family friendly. from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. I have no idea where Atlantic Canada candidates are.  They are listed, back on blue, web error. No NDP, Green or Independent candidates were listed.

One Conservative Party incumbent listed, voted for Roxanne’s Law.

New Brunswick
4 Conservative Party incumbents listed. All voted for Roxanne’s Law.

No incumbents listed. One ‘family friendly’ candidate.

7 Liberals are listed for Ontario. All 7 voted for Roxanne’s Law. All the Conservative incumbents listed voted for Roxanne’s Law.

7 Conservative Party incumbents are listed, all voted for Roxanne’s Law.

13 Conservative Party incumbents are listed, all voted for Roxanne’s Law.

18 Conservative Party incumbents are listed, 17 voted for Roxanne’s Law.

British Columbia
13 Conservative Party incumbents are listed, 12 voted for Roxanne’s Law.

The voting record for Roxanne’s Law is here. Any mistakes in counting above are mine. Assuming the best a group of eager volunteers culled their information from the same sources I did. But why cull names from Roxanne’s Law which was introduced by Rod Bruinooge, pro-life caucus chair?

Is this Vote Pray Serve web site just a group of volunteers?

On to the Facebook page. One of the first names which pops up is Faytene Grasseschi (nee Kryskow) of MyCanada. Rod Bruinooge has spent a fair amount of time onstage with Faytene and she was a strong supporter of Roxanne’s Law.
Did MyCanada put together the Vote Pray Serve website? The single Facebook admin is Judy K Jo out of Toronto Ontario. That’s it. That’s all there is.  And the fact she lists CTS (Crossroads Christian Television) on her about page along side Crossroads It’s Your Call and John Haggees CUFI situated at Canada Christian College, just means she likes religious television and is obviously a neo-charismatic. She also lists Faytenes group Bound4Life which is another right wing US offshoot founded by hard core dominionist Lou Engle. And I may not be fair, the names are familiar to me and pop off the page quickly. At least she is openly listed as admin. It’s one more person than the Vote Pray Serve website discloses.
While being a friend of a Facebook page is hardly sinister or a breach of lobbying or election laws, I find myself wondering who else listed as a friend may be financing and supporting this ‘group of volunteers.’

At the very least, I am troubled because the people behind this web page are not disclosing.
Unknown people are asking for your money and sending  the message that if you are a caring Christian – vote Conservative.

The lack of disclosure is disturbing. The solicitation of funds is disturbing.  To that end, I’ve written the volunteers at Vote Pray Serve and asked the following: Who are you and have you spent $500.00 on this election?  When I get a response, I’ll post it.

News and Roundups

Canada celebrates Israel: Christian Zionism and the election

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Dennis Gruending. April 2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

On day 12 of the federal election campaign Stephen Harper was in Markham, Ontario wooing immigrant voters. That same evening in Ottawa several hundred people gathered at a church called the Peace Tower on Bronson Avenue not far from Parliament Hill. There they pledged fealty to the state of Israel and praised Stephen Harper as that country’s Canadian benefactor. The event, called Canada Celebrates Israel, was one of four that occurred in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver within a few days in early April. The rallies featured three Israeli politicians who are members of the Israeli Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, as well as a cast of fundamentalist Christians from Canada. The four events received virtually no coverage in the mainstream media but an Ottawa-based student newspaper did a look-ahead piece in March. In that story one of the tour’s organizers said it was an outreach effort to Jewish and Christian communities to show support for Israel, but it certainly was not political.

Perhaps. But the Conservatives happened to be well represented. Jim Abbott brought greetings on behalf of the federal government. Abbott was the longtime Reform, Canadian Alliance and later Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia but has chosen not to run again in the 2011 election. Stockwell Day, the recently retired minister of the Treasury Board, had been billed as a guest speaker at the Ottawa event, but instead he provided a message on videotape. Day was available in person at the Canada Celebrates Israel event in Montreal on the previous evening. The Canadian Jewish News reported on it and described Day as giving “a strongly pro-Israel speech” which earned him a standing ovation. The newspaper described part of his speech as follows: “Day earned wide applause when he said Israel, as a Jewish state, has ‘an aboriginal right to exist’ and that the Hebrew scriptures, written as far back as 1,000 years BCE, provide historically accurate evidence of the Jewish presence in what is now Israel.”
Christian Zionists

According to the newspaper, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus and “several Canadian fundamentalist Christian groups” had organized the tour. Those Canadian groups included Christians for Israel, For Zion’s Sake, and Return Ministries, an Ontario-based organization whose website mission statement says the group “encourages Jews and Christians to work together to fulfill God’s plans and purposes for Israel and the nations according to the Word of God.” These fundamentalist groups are Christian Zionists, who believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the establishment of the state of Israel are prerequisites for the second coming of Christ. These Christians have found an eager ally in the state of Israel, which is desperate to avoid being diplomatically isolated for its shabby treatment of Palestinians and its continuing illegal occupation of their land. In Canada, the Conservatives court both Christian Zionists and the Jewish vote — hence the appearance of Jim Abbott and Stockwell Day at a thinly disguised political event.

The Ottawa rally had received little advance publicity but the main floor of the church was almost full and there was a scattering of people in the balcony as well, a testament to the networking ability of the groups involved. A single bagpiper and a red-coated RCMP constable accompanied the dignitaries, including Miriam Ziv, Israeli’s ambassador to Canada, as they walked to the front. There was a procession of flags, Klezmer music, speeches, and two videos extolling the virtues of Israel. Near the end of the evening, everyone was asked to stand and to recite in unison a Canada-Israel Declaration, whose words were projected on a screen in the church. People were also asked to sign a pledge sheet containing the declaration, which was left on a table at the back of the church.

The Canada-Israel Declaration reads, in part:

Whereas we the undersigned, friends of Israel, affirm the eternal and steadfast love of God for Israel and the Jewish People as clearly decreed in the Word of God. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

We affirm the noble stand that our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper has taken in support and solidarity of Israel: “The Jewish state can expect the full support and friendship of Canada.” Oct. 19, 2009, Toronto.

We affirm our Prime Minister’s explicit statement in his speech addressing the delegation of International Parliamentarians and global leaders at the International Conference to Combat Anti-Semitism . . .

We affirm, as stated in the Bible, that people, nations and leaders will be blessed when they bless Israel. “I will bless those that bless you (Israel) and whoever curses you (Israel) I will curse.” (Genesis 12:3)

We affirm that the State of Israel, like Canada, has a right to exist, prosper, thrive and defend her people against the pernicious onslaught of terror, racism and anti-Semitism targeted against them.

We affirm the Abrahamic Covenant of God with Israel, and His promises, and in the giving of the land to the Jewish People as their everlasting homeland and eternal inheritance. “I will give you this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:8)

Crude Biblical literalism

This, of course, is a crude form of Biblical literalism and Stockwell Day’s remarks represent an equally selective history. The noted writer William Dalrymple says that when the state of Israel was created in 1948, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians (Muslim and Christian) were driven from their homes and land. There was no acknowledgment of that by Day, Abbott, or any of the presenters. The preemptive 1967 war Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan and they were placed under a military occupation that persists to this day. The Oslo Accords in 1993 set out a process and timetable for peace negotiations and Palestinian self-government but such negotiations are rendered impossible by the relentless development of Israeli settlements on occupied land. As longtime MPs, both Day and Abbott would know that but they choose to ignore it.

The Canada Celebrates Israel rallies were no doubt planned prior to the federal election being called on March 26, but despite their religious trappings they were nonetheless blatantly political events. Their intention was to buttress support for the Israeli government and its policies, and to tighten the political alliance in Canada between the Conservatives, select Jewish organizations and Christian fundamentalists.

Dennis Gruending Pulpit and Politics