Political Activism & Faith: A Canadian Candidacy (Franciscan Times, Summer 2006)

Posted: November 25, 2012 by Ty in Archives
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ty Ragan

http://www.tssf.org/2006FTSummer.pdf p.1-3

My personal rule talks of my being a voice for the


voiceless. It is a simple line to attempt to describe a


life long call God has placed on my heart throughout


my journeys: from a high school student standing


up against hatred in my community, to a writer who


battled governments to protect the arts, to a simple


letter writer for Amnesty International to a street pastor


petitioning the provincial government of Alberta not to


close a desperately needed homeless shelter that was


seeing God’s miracles pour out.


It was these actions that led to this line being written in


my rule, and to my becoming more active within my


country of birth, speaking out to protect the social programs


church leaders helped to build (social services,


disability, public health care). It culminated on January


23, 2006 when Canada held a Federal Election, after


eight weeks of an offi cial campaign that I participated


in as a candidate.


My nomination was secured with Canada’s New


Democratic Party on May 5, 2005, and my campaign


began minutes after. Some would ask:


why would I take this step as a youth


pastor, and a member of the Third Order,


Society of St. Francis? There were


other ways. For me it was a unique


way to reach out to the community I


live in and get down past the surface


issues to raise awareness across a city


about the amazing agencies, organizations


and people that are trying to stop


the bleeding of the pain of poverty and


devastation we are wreaking on our




As a candidate door knocking I found


that what was needed was a listening


ear, and someone willing to help direct

people to the parts of government they could talk to, in

some cases someone to act as advocate to those government

or non-profi t agencies on behalf of the person.

The most shocking thing that I found after listening

to individuals that said “having a strong faith would

hamper you in public life” is how many people were

comforted when I said I would pray for them. After

speaking those words as well, many people asked for

me to simply pray with them there on their doorstep,

or after a debate, or at a bus stop.

Campaigning for a political party is hard for someone

with strong beliefs and principles because it is not simply

yourself being put forward, you have to support a

platform. I look at the core values of the institution and

decide if they fi t within the context of my rule of ministry.

I have found, at least in the Canadian Parliamentary

system, that specifi c policy points become harder

to impose even if your party achieves power because

you are always succeeding a previous government, and

there are always economic limitations. I found it easier

to be able to step away from the platform and open up

a dialogue with the people of my community; I took a

pastoral outlook and realized winning was irrelevant.

This unique calling for this season (eight months) had

given me the opportunity to reach out to those that

were hurting and in pain, those that may never darken

the doorways of a church or know where to go for help.

There was also the winter election conundrum, because

traditionally during an election the candidate do

massive fundraising for their campaign to be able to

purchase signs (which are once used and then disposed

of to landfi lls never to decompose) and brochures, and

go around in thousand dollar suits making promises

they cannot keep.

My message was simple: I will listen and try to make

things better, for I have hope that a better world is possible

for us all. My attire was simpler—blue jeans and

a hoody, as a youth pastor, not a politician. I did not

feel comfortable in the trappings of the offi ce. Finally

when it came to fundraising I looked out at the hurting

and those in need, saw and toured many organizations

that helped children with developmental disabilities,

abused seniors, and the homeless, and I knew I could

not ask for

money for

a campaign.

Rather I

took the


of disseminating




people to

direct the


they would

have sent

to me

to these


non-profi ts


were producing miracles for God’s children.

When it was all over, and the votes were tallied I was

third of fi ve on the ballot and just felt a peace. Why

you ask? Some would say I failed my calling by losing.

I felt a peace because I was proud of the hard work of

my volunteers. I was amazed at how even with donor

burnout we managed to get agencies monies they

otherwise would not have received this season and

that I had always spoken from my heart and held to

my beliefs. The best and most humbling part was the

Wednesday night after election day being able to face

the youth I minister to and let them know that when

I say one person called by God can make a positive

impact no matter where they are called, it is true


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