Why I Won’t Vote Conservative This Election

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That’s right, I’m talking partisan politics on an Anabaptist blog.

We just passed the halfway point of Canada’s longest election since 1877. The incumbent Conservative Party called it earlier than usual after they had changed some rules allowing them to spend more money on a campaign the longer it goes, knowing they had the largest war chest.

Background

For non-Canadian readers, our political spectrum has three major parties.

On the right is the Conservative Party of Canada. It used to be split in a few, but amalgamated into one party so spans the entire right wing.

The Liberal Party of Canada is traditionally the central party, although I would consider making the case they are the most left-wing of the big three this election.

The New Democratic Party for most of its history was a small left party. In the last election, the NDP swept through Quebec to became the official opposition.

We also have the Green Party, which is more than the environmental protection implied in its name; the Bloc Quebecois, proponents of Quebec separation; and the Strength in Democracy party who has formed since the last election with their primary platform being allowing MPs to vote as they want instead of whipping along party lines.

We now are looking at a three-way race, with NDP leading the polls consistently, but all within 8% popular support and with our first past the post there’s still a chance of any of the three forming government. Green are currently projected to win 1 seat, BQ none, and SiD none.

Why Not Conservative?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Enacted C-51 which stripped many human rights with very little oversight, against the advice of many security and human rights experts. Whipped the Senate to pass it with little debate, something that has never happened before.
  2. Enacted a “second-class citizenship” law. If you are a dual citizen in Canada, you can be deported if convicted of terrorism. Part of C-51 is that a lot of things are now considered terrorism, such as a peaceful protest blocking a highway.
  3. Backed out of several international environmental agreements to appeal to his power base in oil-rich Western Canada.
  4. Renamed the government from “The Canadian Government” to “The Harper Government.”
  5. Regularly shuts down or micromanages the media to avoid criticism.
  6. Refuses to meet with provincial premiers, and then blamed them for the bad relationship saying they didn’t do their job.
  7. Wants to abolish the Senate (not a bad idea), which as a Constitutional change isn’t possible without the agreement of the provinces, but point 6, and won’t explain how he would actually do that without them.
  8. Has increased violence in the Middle East.
  9. Has refused to stop campaigning to meet with other party leaders about emergency increases in refugee assistance, although to his credit he does promise if he wins (in another month and a half) he will increase the limit by an amount less than other parties but still significant.
  10. Has employed a lot of Islamophobic rhetoric that has caused many of our Muslim – and other Arab – citizens to fear their government and fellow citizens.
  11. Unquestionably supporting Israel even as they wage genocide on Palestinians.
  12. Has cut a range of social programs for women and minorities (standard Conservative fare).
  13. Spent billions on fighter jets without even entertaining any other bids, not the typical picture of Conservative fiscal responsibility.
  14. Made Canada’s economy heavily reliant on oil and on China, two markets that have recently crashed and have now caused a technical recession.
  15. Has ignored calls for an inquiry into the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women.
  16. Has ignored recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on how to repair relationships with our Native communities.
  17. Has attempted to cover up unethical Senate expenses, e.g. the Duffy trial.
  18. Regularly uses standard conservative rhetoric that taxes are stealing from the people who work hard to give to the undeserving, which is pretty far apart from the Christ who gave everything for society’s outcasts. His policies repeatedly work to make the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer.
  19. Bought votes with the Universal Child Care Benefit, which erased the previous tax benefit to give out money right before the election call and then will take most of it back after the election because it is taxable income.
  20. Cheated in the last election with tactics such as robocalls telling voters projected for other parties to go to the wrong polling station.
  21. Is the only Prime Minister ever to be found in contempt of Parliament.
  22. Prorogued Parliament to avoid non-confidence votes that were expected to see him lose power. That means government did not do their jobs so that they wouldn’t risk losing them.
  23. Shut down scientific work because findings of global warming harmed his oil-rich conservative base.
  24. Stopped the long-form census which provided essential information about things like religious minorities and how new Canadians are able to integrate.
  25. Stripped many citizens of their right to vote, groups that are more likely to vote on the left end of the spectrum.

These Aren’t Christian Values

You can argue some things are good policy, but they are undoubtedly anti-Christian values. Harper’s government has been marked by disregard for the less fortunate, disregard for the environment, using fear to escalate violence, and a general disregard for democracy.

In the last 40 years in the United States, Republicans have been associated as the default Christian party because of two issues: abortion and marriage equality. Harper has promised not to reopen either discussion, so even the 1-2 issue conservative Christians can’t apply those priorities here. Other than that, most Christians have tended toward socially progressive government due to its care of those in need – a fundamental Christian value that we cannot erase from our Bible. Add the Christian values of creation care, peacemaking, and the value in every human being.

I am an Anabaptist. I believe in the separation of church and state. My hope isn’t in any government winning this or any other election; my hope is in Jesus. With that said, I think Jesus was a pretty wise man (and God) so if I have the opportunity to encourage some more of that wisdom in the wider world, I’m going to cast my vote to do so.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.

  • Laura Klassen

    Wow! The eye-opening moment for me was the passing of the omnibus crime bill, again refusing to listen to judges, prison officials, etc. That only introduced a steady drip, drip of sometimes petty things …. but they add up.

    • I don’t even know a lot about that particular bill, but it does remind me I didn’t include the “tough on crime” rhetoric and legal changes which we know does not work. Harsher penalties for nonviolent crimes do not make people less likely to commit a crime. It just makes it harder for them to be rehabilitated and be a functioning member of society when they finally get out, thereby making them more likely to be a repeat offender. But it makes people feel better that the evil drug user is behind bars, so we don’t really care that it is actually making things worse.

      The steady drip for me culminated with C-51 but it’s always been a culture of fear. So much of how they operate is controlling people and encouraging fear of those they can’t control to drive you back into their arms as the ones who will protect them from those other people. It’s very hard to reconcile to a Christian worldview which theoretically believes that the perfect love we’re called to casts out all fear.