Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Harper’

I know most people “review” books, but Tom McMillan‘s (2016, Nimbus) Not My Party: The Rise and Fall of Canadian Tories from Robert Standfield to Stephen Harper is not one for review as much as deep reflection on the course Canadian Politics has gone down. It could easily become a “partisan attack” work, by some in other parties, but they would miss the point of collective and personal self-reflection within their own context this can be used for.

The book itself at around 553 pages before foot notes is an investment, but a worthwhile investment that traces the author’s political career from the Standfield-Symons era up to the merger. He touches on service as an MP, Cabinet minister, consul to Boston, thinker…and whether or no he would accept it I believe an elder political statesman in Canada (much like Mulroney, Chretien, Martin, Broadbent, Clark and Manning amongst others are as well).

The intriguing piece for reflection though is the transformation from collective nation building, bridge building of inclusion, and the dance of holding together a spectrum of beliefs under one tent, to the drive that has happened since 2003-04 to push out those “not like us” or the us and them show down within parties that has bread into our country.

Look back historically, when policy was actually not only well crafted and well thought out, but also could be used to build conversations and dialogues. Upon my own reflections of the past, our parties have always shared the same centre of policy for the collective good in our Just Society and social contract, with flare differences dependent on the source.  Yet that evaporated post merger, and some say it is only a conservative story of the loss of this enlightened-inclusive-collective good drive.

Yet look to your own ideology, what matters more? The ideology (party loyalty) or a good policy/law/practice?

This is the beauty of McMillan’s journey and sharing. The core question to emerge, are we in our wonderful mosaic and diversity truly unified under one banner as Canadian?

Historically this has always been the story, continual building on what has come before, and for the last 10 years that halted. It is time to get back on track, but to get back on track, it is embracing the conversation, embracing the research-qualitative, quantitative, anecdotal and pragmatic–

and more importantly surrendering of labels of this is conservative, liberal or socialist— the key question that needs to be asked by the citizens:

is it good for all Canadians?

Parties are currently seeking identity through renewal, new ways to get members, new policy and leader conventions at all levels. They are seeking candidates to run..if you are on nominating committees seek a candidate that may be a bit different than the homogenized norm, to get the progressive/thoughtful flare to percolate conversation in your ranks. If you are feeling called to run, perhaps it is time to start reading those you normally don’t agree with on ideology to begin to understand the other, is still someone you are called to represent and what that needs to look like?

In Canada, we have freedom of thought and expression, but it is curbed by a responsibility to hold the collective health in that we speak (do no harm)…it is a cornerstone in building towards peace, order and good governance.

This is the reflection that struck me as a former policy wonk/writer, candidate, volunteer and activist on the political hustings. Renewal is through understanding, accountability, and seeking best for ourselves and our neighbour…

For truly someone, including yourself, is someone’s neighbour.


Yup you read that right. Now I know we are Canadians, and as such like to keep our politics, like our religion, on the down low. But as we move towards the 2015 Federal Election I do want to encourage an informed vote, for which ever local candidate one decides to support.

Some key points to remember under the Constitution Act 1982:

1) We do not vote directly for the Prime Minister, if fact this is not even a constitutional role, basically it is perfunctionary in that the party that wins the most seats’ leader becomes the first minister.

2) Know the local candidate more than the brand, because it is the local candidate elected to represent your local communities and be your voice. Ask yourself if they would adhere to an old Reform Party principle, current Green party practice, that the constituents will overrides the parties ideology of votes in the House of Commons. That is that the MP’s are not whippable (when all MP’s are informed by the party how they are to vote).

3) The only vote that can truly be an automatic no confidence vote in the House and send us back to an election is on the budget, unless the vote is called to be a non-confidence vote.

4) Currently we have a law on the books for a fixed election date every four years, but under the Constitution the Majority party can call for an election with consent of the Governor General within 5 years of being elected, unless having lost the confidence of the House.

5) The Loyal Opposition is not there to oppose outright, they are there as sober second thought within the House of Commons before the bill goes to the Senate, to improve the laws for the people. As are all Opposition parties.

6) Our government is not a label of the majority party it is not “Conservative” or “Liberal” or “Green”; it is The Government of Canada, speaking for all Canadians, and our constitution guarantees that it is to be one of “Peace, Order and Good Governance under God”

7) Do not let Religious or Ideology Fundamentalists state that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is anti these things, for it was written in consultation with all aspects of Canadian Society.

Informed Community:

If we as a nation are supposed to expect our politicians to move beyond ideologies and work together for the greater good, we must hold them to a higher standard. We must be anti-attack ad, anti-cult of personality, we must challenge for a higher discourse, one of ideas, one of wisdom, one of true leadership at the community level. These are the discourses that built our nation under the Greatest Generation.

And where did these discourses happen? In family homes, community centres, church basements. Whether they were gathered around televisions, radios, books, or simply cups of tea/coffee. These are conversations that changed our world, crossing ideological boundaries.

This is the informed community we need to rebuild, and what I want to encourage Canadians to do in their own homes. Whether it is documentary night, or a book and brunch, or just coffee clatches. But the idea is to let go of our ideological groundings and to open up a simple discussion:

What is Canada to us?

Which candidate best represents that?

Some great reads to inform these discussions I would like to suggest (and please in the comments leave other ones and some documentaries or websites) are:

Think Big by Preston Manning (2003, McLelland & Stewart)

Who We Are by Elizabeth May (2014, Greystone Books)

The Longer I am Prime Minister by Paul Wells (2014, Random House)

How We Lead by Joe Clark (2014, Random House)

Hell or High Water by Paul Martin (2009, McLelland and Stewart)

The Right Balance by Hugh Segal (2011, D&M Publishers)

Speaking Out Louder by Jack Layton (2011, McLelland & Stewart)

I would also encourage reading any works by the abover writers as well as Pierre Trudeau, Lloyd Axworthy, Peter C. Newman, J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, Lawrence Martin, Andrew Cohen, Chantal Hubert, Romeo Dallaire, and Donald Savoie.


By Tyler Ragan

( on pg.3)

This revolution was not televised,


it was live! It started as an


idea to teach fasting for 30 hours.


Members of Soul Revolution


pledged to go without food to


deepen their relationship with


God (self -transformation) and to


raise awareness that clean-freefresh


water is a human right.


Envelopes for the Primate’s


World Relief and Development


Fund were distributed to the 11


participants and two leaders.


Donations were gathered. The


retreat was on God’s time as


watches and cell phones were


checked in as participants arrived.


Bonding had already started


when Soul Revolution came the


Thursday night before to


help the Altar Guild and junior


choir make 450 palm crosses for


Palm Sunday.


On the Friday night shortly


after arrival, the crew “went” to


the third world in two teams.


Their mission to build, with the


materials you can scrounge, a


well for your village. What was


discovered as water was hoisted


successfully was that the water


was dirty.


It was unsafe to drink. The


group delved into the story of the


Woman at the Well, and what it


meant to come to Jesus and the


unquenchable thirst we have,


and the healing found with the




The tempo for the weekend


was set with time taken to explore


the scripture, pray, write letters to


Prime Minister Stephen Harper.


A prayer walk was taken across


the street to the mailbox outside


a Seven Eleven where the group


stopped. In front of community


members, they prayed before


each youth walked to the box,


saying a silent prayer. They


mailed their letter calling for our


country to take a stand to ensure


everyone had access to drinkable


water, and to stop the commodification


of that which God


created to bring life.


Raising awareness did not stop


with letters to Prime Minister




On Saturday afternoon, the


group of youth, amidst clouds of


chalk dust, decorated the ramps,


stairs and amphitheatre areas of


the church raising awareness of all


in God’s creation needs water,


with simple messages like “H2O


should be Free” and “Jesus Rules”


or “Jesus Rocks”.


The night ended prayer times


when the youth could wrestle


through their own faith, and go


deeper into the Gospel. Lights


out ended our first day of fasting.


As the sun rose on Saturday


morning with an hour to go


before wake-up, the leaders gathered


to say the morning office,


and pray for the coming


impact. After a flurry of wake-ups


with singing, Soul Revolution


donned work gloves and grabbed


garbage bags. Entering their 21st


hour of fasting, they hiked from


the church to Prairie Winds Park


to clean up the community by


clearing the garbage out of the


gutters in our streets, and to


show that clean water starts with


a clean and litter free environment


so our own water cannot be




Five huge bags of garbage left


our area. Stopping in the midst


of the park to pray, and move to


the foot washing at the last




Exploration was tied to personal


prayer time, corporate


prayer time, exploring the stories


in the Bible of Jesus and the


Woman at the Well, writings in


Isaiah, Nicodemus dialogue with


Jesus, writings in Revelation


where God says eternal life will


come from clean water (the


water Jesus promised).


Also in Revelation, there is the


promise that it is possible to bring


God’s kingdom to earth as we


pray each Sunday in Church. It


is not just a dream, or a prayer for


tomorrow but a reality for now


that Soul Revolution came to


believe could happen if we just


cared enough to try.


Our weekend closed exploring


1 Corinthians 13 the love chapter,


and personal reflections and


prayer, before our final step of


gathering for an Agape Meal


(Love Feast), where our priest,


Dean dashed in to discover our


group serving one another.


The hard questions were still


bubbling up about the Cross,


Jesus, Mary, how much does


God truly love us that no matter


what we can be with him.


Our time ended with a reverse


progressive supper in the houses


of church members. And some


brought food to the church:


award-winning death by chocolate


desert to lasagna; homemade


chicken noodle soup and


Caesar salad to appetizers of


jumbo shrimps; little knishes, pigs


in the blanket, tiny pizzas and


other fun hors d’oeuvres.


The final act as a community


that night before pick-up was


group prayer.


The group gathered the next


morning while the money raised


$360 was presented to the church


to be sent to the PWRDF, and to


help with the dramatic Passion




Revolutions are possible, and


it just takes a thought…to change


the world.


Soul revolution is a group of


12-18 year olds at St. George’s


Anglican Church.


Ty Ragan n/TSSF, is Director


of Youth and Children


Ministries at St. George’s


Anglican Church, Calgary

Ancient silver coin from Cyrene depicting a st...

Ancient silver coin from Cyrene depicting a stalk of Silphium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay a new week, and a new motion from a CONs back bencher. At first blush it appears different than the “when life begins” motion that even the Prime Minister voted against (even if 10 of his cabinet and half his caucus did not).

Now, another CONs backbencher has tabled a motion that at first glance seems a no brainer in the world of the abortion debate… simply put that an abortion of an unborn child (fetus/zygote, insert your own term here) shalt not be performed based on the fact that Mummy/Daddy to-be dislike the gender of the child. Read full article here.

Makes sense right? Yet it opens up the rights of all involved about choice. Is abortion good? No.  The reasons an abortion are chosen are many fold: rape, incest, economic, familial, gender, birth control, disability, disease, mother and/or child health, etc (and yes, these same reasons for someone else may actually empower the family to keep the child. This is not an easy black and white equation)… when one chooses to go down this path we do not know what the reasons are, they are in the family’s heart and soul. The purpose of publicly funded and available abortions through health care is not why this path has been chosen.

The rationale is simple, it is a devastating choice for all invovled, but it is more devastating when the abortion is performed in unlicensed clinics, or aborted through ingestions of poison, or the abuse of others/self. These methodologies more often than not lead to the death of the mother as well, so then two lives are lost. It is about reducing of harm to the mother, and hopefully the child. When done properly also includes before and after counselling and reconciliation work.

So this brings us to this motion? Is it good? At first blush, yes it is and quite common sense. But sadly it crosses the line of harm reduction for  these procedures and as such is a motion that needs to be voted down.

Will there ever be a time I would come out in support of the ending of publicly funded abortions? Possibly, but then the living Body of Christ would need to have built a world where every child conceived is not only wanted, but loved, and able to live a fruitful life free of abuse.

It does not matter which side of the debate you are on in regards to abortion. I think we should all be able to agree that until a world where every child conceived is wanted and loved, this is more about preserving the health/life of the mother so they do not need to seek abortions in less than savoury environments.
So please read and sign the following from our 3rd Party in Parliament The Liberal Party of Canada

Friend —


Stephen Harper said he would not re-open the debate on a woman’s right to choose.


But 24 hours from now, he’ll allow Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth to put forward a motion in the House of Commons which clearly opens the possibility of re-criminalizing abortion.


It’s up to you to make sure Canadian women and men know about it.


Please sign and share the petition and tell the Prime Minister: Hands off our reproductive rights.


When I began my nursing career in the 1950s in Quebec, contraception was illegal and women had no say over family planning. They had no choice, and some faced desperation.


I saw women come to the hospital, bleeding and in pain, only to discover they’d tried to end their pregnancy themselves.


As a nurse, and later as an MP and Senator, I took part in the hard-fought battles to institutionalize and enshrine the right to choose in Canadian law.


And in 1988 the debate was settled when the Supreme Court ruled: “The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.”


If you believe in a Canadian woman’s right to choose, you have 24 hours to speak up and spread the word.


Please sign and share the petition and tell the Prime Minister: Hands off our reproductive rights.


Thank you.


Lucie Pépin


Senator for Shawinigan, Quebec (1997-2011)
MP, Outremont (1984-1988)

Pic for WikiProject Political parties and poli...

Pic for WikiProject Political parties and politicians in Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We tend to want to believe in Canada that we function under a “presidential” style system where we are literally casting votes for the leader of the party to become Premier or Prime Minister.  This is not the case, to be a voter in a Canadian riding is an important responsibility, one to be informed on 4 fronts at least:

1) The needs of your community

2) The character and values of the individuals running in your riding or electoral district

3) the platform, core beliefs and values of the party (do you hold to 50+1% and is the other 49% what you can live with being brought onto your neighbours and self).

4) Lastly, the character of the leader who will become the First Minister (unless we got back to the United Farmers of Alberta time, where individuals ran and then they voted for the leader from the elected caucus).

So as we head towards April 23, 2012 in Alberta, I encourage each and every Albertan to truly make an informed decision through their own conscience.

English: Stephane Dion addresses a standing-ro...

Image via Wikipedia

We need to realize as Canadians that we missed an opportunity to have a compassionate, astute leader in Stephane Dion, someone who truly wanted our country to be unified.

English: Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Image via Wikipedia

Dear R. Hon. Stephen Harper:

With stories like this breaking everyday:click here it is apparent that the Conservative Governing party whether in a minority or majority is unable to produce our promises in the constitution of Peace, Order, and Good Governance. Due to this scandal and the fact you have not acted on behalf of Canadians, but rather on behalf of your party…I call upon you to be a true leader and resign.

If you will not resign I call upon our Governor General to remove you from office, and to declare bi-elections in the almost 50 ridings effected by this scandal… the root cause needs to be found this is true, the fact that as Prime Minister you have been frozen in decisive action to uncover the truth and rebuild the trust of Canadians in our government, is unforgiveable.


Rev. Dr. Tyler Ragan

Calgary East


English: First Christian Church (Disciples of ...

Image via Wikipedia

Center for Great Apes

Image via Wikipedia

Did you know that in the Great Apes anthropologists have discovered religious rituals?

That we have a majority government by reverse-ballot stuffing due to a demon dialer misdirecting voters in almost 39 ridings…13 of those won by a slim margin.

That sociologically speaking the Canadian Christian church is on life support, as we struggle to find more ways to create individual converts, humanists and atheists have been realizing and working into building authentic community and reaching our nation more and more… funny how we move away from the original created intent from God we die…hmmm…

The vast majority of world faith, religions, and philosophies have some text they go to… regardless of faith in an eternal creator or not, everyone comes down to the Golden Rule…

What other ponderings arise during this Lent Season for you?

Hmmm…So we are to trust a government that before elected cannot even communicate where to vote? hmmm…