The Harper Index

Religious Right, a major part of Harper's coalition, surfaces over film censorship

Charles McVety's clout over Telefilm illustrates rising influence of Canada's "Theo-Cons".

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition and longtime Harper associate (CCC)TORONTO, February 29, 2008: Evangelist Christian heavyweight and close friend to Stephen Harper, Charles McVety was in the news today taking credit for the Harper government's move toward film censorship by denying tax credits to TV and film productions containing content that offends official reviewers. McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, told reporters he lobbied public safety minister Stockwell Day, justice minister Rob Nicholson and officials in the Prime Minister's Office for this policy. McVety's comments serve as a reminder of the influence of the religious Right despite Stephen Harper's attempts to keep the extend of this influence under wraps. The following article was originally published on May 18, 2007

Stephen Harper is the third evangelical Christian in a row (from Alberta) to lead the Canadian political right, following Preston Manning and Stockwell Day. Reporter Marci McDonald wrote an account in The Walrus magazine of the many and tight connections between the Harper Conservatives and Canada's evangelical movements.

"[Charles] McVety and others on the religious right are equally convinced that Harper is one of their own. 'We've got a born-again prime minister,' trumpets David Mainse, the founder of Canada's premier Christian talk show, 100 Huntley Street. They see him as an image-savvy evangelical who has been careful to keep his signals to them under the media radar, but they have no doubt his convictions run deep, so deep that only after he wins a majority will he dare translate the true colours of his faith into policies that could remake the fabric of the nation. If they're right, it remains unclear whether those convictions would turn government into a kinder, gentler guarantor of social justice for all or transform the country into a stern, narrow-minded theocracy. And what would his evangelical worldview mean for international relations?"

McDonald documents how Harper's use of religion in politics has paid off.

"... According to an Ipsos-Reid poll in April, 64 percent of weekly Protestant churchgoers — the vast majority of them evangelicals — voted Conservative in the last election, a 24-point jump from 2004. For the first time in the history of polling in Canada, Catholics who attend church weekly also shifted a majority of their votes from the Liberals to Harper's party. While the Ottawa press corps has been preoccupied with Harper's ability to keep the most blooper-prone Christians in his caucus buttoned up, he has quietly but determinedly nurtured a coalition of evangelicals, Catholics, and conservative Jews that brought him to power and that will put every effort into ensuring that he stays there. Last spring, when Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty could barely wangle an hour with him, Harper made time for dozens of faith groups, including a five-woman delegation from the Catholic Women's League, which hadn't managed to snare a sit-down with any prime minister in 24 years. 'Smile if you're a so-con,' ran a headline in the Western Standard above a photo of the meeting. 'Canada's traditional Christian groups can't say enough good things about the Tories' social policies so far.'"

Related individuals, organizations and significant events
Charles McVety is Canada Christian College president and one of the most outspoken players in this country's religious right wing.

Harper Conservative vs. Public Values Frame
  Christian values / Freedom of belief
  Social conservative / Infringing rights
  Christian caucus / Clique

Links and sources
  Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons, Marci McDonald, The Walrus, May 18, 2007
  The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right, Robert Lanham

Posted: May 18, 2007

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