Press gallery colleague Brian Lilley, who provides Parliament Hill news and analysis to the influential CFRB group of radio stations across Canada, has a most interesting blog post, this week. In it, he reveals that Toronto-area Liberal MP John McKay has been designated by his leader, Michael Ignatieff, to help the party reach out to evangelical Christians.
Here is the link to the post in question. I would suggest that OttawaWatch readers take a close look at it, but in any case, will summarize some aspects for purposes of historical context.
Lilley suggests that McKay, first elected in 1997, is the right person for the evangelical-recruiting job.
McKay is a member and past moderator of Spring Garden Church, a strong inner-suburb Baptist congregation with vigorous evangelical leanings. Further, he was a co-founder of the Canadian division of the Christian Legal Fellowship, a North-America-wide organization of Christian lawyers.
And, even further, his voting record on same-sex marriage (against) and his pro-life stance will help him, as Lilley puts it, “in speaking to a community he knows well but that the Liberals have avoided like a plague.”
I read Lilley’s post with interest and generally agree that his thrust is accurate. Ignatieff has indeed recognized the need for the Liberals to “recapture” evangelicals, if it is to have any future crack at power in Canada.
Having said that, I would like to provide some context to the discussion, both with respect to McKay’s own approach to the faith/political interface, and to some of the other players involved in the mix.
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McKay has been both articulate in the advancement of moderate social and fiscal conservative concepts, and outreaching toward the moderate sectors on the conservative side of the fence.
When he was first elected, and the Reform party was the official opposition, it often seemed that when it came to articulating Reform-style conservatism, McKay was without a peer on either side of the house. And there seemed to be fair evidence that Preston Manning and other Reformers relied on McKay to communicate their particular perspective inside the Liberal caucus.
Moreover, since being on the opposition benches, McKay has successfully brought forward a couple of private member’s bills that specifically addressed the freeing up of the development and relief process. Those bills were an outcome, in part at least, of his involvement, before entering politics, in evangelically-oriented Christian development projects.