Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 19 to elect Members of Parliament and choose the country’s next government, and Anglicans are being encouraged to reflect carefully on how their values are being addressed in the policy proposals of the various parties.
“I never tell people who to vote for,” says Archbishop Colin Johnson, “but I do remind them that we have a duty, as Christians, to vote. In Jeremiah, the prophet calls us to pray for the cities in which we live and to participate in their wellbeing.”
The Baptismal Covenant and the Five Marks of Mission similarly “indicate that we have a responsibility to work for justice, peace, and the dignity of all,” he says. “This includes taking an essential part in the democratic process in Canada.”
Anglicans can make their priorities clear not only at the ballot box, but also through participation in all-candidates meetings and in conversations with political candidates.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote to the leaders of the five main political parties in August, asking that their ears and hearts “be open to the call of Canadians for compassion, justice, and reason,” a call which he hears “echoed by so many who aspire to build upon the firm foundations of a democracy that we value dearly and who are committed to love and serve others.”
The Anglican Church has been actively engaged with the government on several justice issues over the years and an election campaign is the ideal time to put discussion of these priorities front and centre. In order to facilitate these conversations, the Anglican Church of Canada has developed a package of election resources to educate and empower Anglicans across the country as they prepare to go to the polls. Titled “Compassion, Justice, and Reason: An Anglican Approach for Election 2015,” the document provides background information and suggested questions for candidates on key social justice issues, ranging from housing and homelessness to reconciliation with First Nations to promoting peace and stability internationally. This guide provides a sense of current Anglican engagement on these issues and offers tips on effective strategies for engaging candidates. The resources can be downloaded directly from the national church’s website, www.anglican.ca. Additional election resources are available from various Canadian ecumenical networks such as the Canadian Council of Churches, KAIROS, and Citizens for Public Justice.