Reading various blogs and comments there seems to be some debate about Stephen Harper's membership in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church. While some believe our Prime Minister's faith is genuine, others view it as being more politically motivated. Personally I tend more to the latter view, but I'm not sure that it really matters one way or another.
What does matter is that the Conservatives have built up a strong following with fundamentalist or evangelical Christians, similar to what the Republicans were able to do in the United States under George W. Bush. In fact a 2009 paper put out by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada found that an overwhelming majority - 67% - of evangelicals who stopped voting Liberal had switched to the Conservatives.
I've written frequently of the issues that are of importance to this Conservative base of supporters, primarily abortion and the traditional Christian view of marriage, as well as opposition to Gay rights in general.
And this puts Stephen Harper in a bind, forcing him to walk something of tightrope. Canada is a progressive and liberal (small l) mined country as evidenced by the 65% of Canadians who voted left of centre in the last election. Harper must reach out to this constituency if he wants to eventually win a majority, while trying to keep his base in tow. And he doesn't have the luxury of naming a Sarah Palin type running mate to keep socially conservative Christians happy.
Lost in all the fuss over Justin Trudeau's fixation on the word 'barbaric' in describing so called 'honour killings' is the decidedly progressive tilt of the updated Canada Citizenship Guide.
The opposition parties even praised the inclusion of provisions for Gay Rights and Same Sex Marriage.
But has Harper gone too far in reaching out to less socially conservative voters at the expense of his evangelical base?
Suzanne, Pro-Life crusader and author of Big Blue Wave, (a conservative blog) went so far as to say:
"Dear Christian Heritage Party, I am so disgusted with the Conservatives I'm ready to vote for you".
Losing significant votes to the CHP could be devastating to Harper's hope of winning a majority mandate, it might even be enough to cost him the Prime Minister's office. That's what makes this such difficult balancing act, attracting liberal minded progressives while not alienating right wing evangelicals.
He's done a good job of serving two masters up until now. But are cracks starting to show?
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