On the feature today, an analysis of last week’s US presidential election, with the editor of Reformed Perspective magazine, Jon Dykstra. Click here to read the transcript of the interview.
In the news:
In the news, two important issues are up for debate in Parliament this month: pornography and palliative care. We talk to two MPs who are pushing forward on those issues.
Click here to learn more about MP Arnold Viersen’s motion that addresses the troubling issue of violent pornography accessible to children and youth.
Click here for an update on MP Marilyn Gladu’s private member’s bill that asks Parliament to implement a national palliative care strategy.
And an interview with Conservative Party leadership hopeful Maxime Bernier, on what he would and would not do on the abortion file. Click here to read the story.
The House of Commons started debate yesterday on a bill that would mandate Parliament’s Health Committee to initiate a study the mental health effects of violent porn on young people. Private Member’s Motion 47, sponsored by Peace River/Westlock MP Arnold Viersen, has a lot of cross-party support. Seconders include Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Bloc Quebecois leader Rhéal Fortin, and federal Conservative leadership candidate Lisa Raitt.
Viersen says this is an issue that transcends partisan ideology, and he’s getting a lot of support from a lot of different places. “I have over 40 stakeholder groups that have been endorsing my motion. Every day I get another one.” He says the key now is to lobby uncommitted MPs to vote in favour of the bill. Each of the stakeholder groups, he says, is approaching individual MPs to “touch them on the shoulder and say ‘hey, can you support this.’” The next hour of debate on this is tentatively scheduled for later this month. The motion requires the health committee to report back to Parliament by July of next year.
Sarnia/Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu is getting ready for the first hour of debate on a Private Member’s Bill to push the government to implement a national palliative care strategy. Gladu says Bill C-277 looks to define the palliative care services to be covered in order to get consistent access across Canada. She says the national health care system is missing a number of things, including hospice infrastructure and palliative care facilities and properly trained doctors and palliative care workers. This bill has broader cross-party support, including from the NDP’s Charlie Angus, who passed a similar motion in the last sitting of Parliament. Gladu also met with Health Minister Jane Philpott on this. “She was going to present (the bill) to Cabinet, and she was looking for flexibility (in terms of) changing the wording a little bit.” Gladu says she has no problem with that, adding there will be “lots of flexibility” if the Bill makes it to the Committee stage. The first hour of debate on the bill is set for next Wednesday, November 23rd.
The federal Conservative Party leadership race continues. There’s a dozen candidates in the running now, and their first debate was last week in Saskatoon. The event focussed on economic, environmental, and trade issues. There was no discussion about so-called “social issues.” But another candidate has come out with a clear policy on how Parliament should handle contentious issues such as abortion. Quebec’s Maxime Bernier says if he wins the leadership and ultimately becomes Prime Minister, his government would not introduce legislation on the issue, but at the same time, he would not prevent his MPs from doing so. “If a member wants to table a Private Member’s Bill, that would be their choice,” Bernier says. “I won’t interfere, I won’t use any procedural tactic to restrain their right, that’s their democratic right – and we’ll have that debate.”
We’ll have a full feature interview with Mr. Bernier on the program later this month.
This week’s feature interview was done on Wednesday morning, a few hours after Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States of America. Our interviewee was Jon Dykstra.
Jon is the editor of Reformed Perspective magazine – a Canadian who lives in the US.
LN: So, it was quite a night last night. A lot of people were not expecting the result. Donald Trump ends up with a majority of the Electoral College votes, and he’ll become the next President. Initial analysis. What happened?
JD: Well, it shows that polling is a lot more difficult these days than it used to be. They used to be able to call us up on our landlines and they could make sure that they were getting information that was really random. But now, with cellphones and self-selecting Internet polls it’s just not as accurate as it used to be.
LN: More fundamentally than that, though, I’m reading a lot of stuff on social media this morning; this was kind of a zeitgeist vote. You know, Trump campaigned against the political establishment and all that sort of paradigm. Was this a message that says “we’re done with politics as usual?”
JD: There was a lot of hope – with the people I’ve been talking with – there’s a lot of hope placed on what Trump might do. People were able to place their wishes on this figure because – in some respects – he didn’t say that much, so you could read into him what you wanted to hear, and he embraced that. So there are people who were voting for him to blow up the machine. I don’t think he’s going to, but that was definitely a hope.
LN: You know, it’s interesting. I watched his speech on Monday night at his final rally in Michigan, and it was all about, you know, “drain the swamp”, and “throw her in jail” and all that stuff. And then I watched his acceptance speech (less than 24 hours later) after all the ballots had been counted, and there was none of that. He almost sounded Presidential, and he almost sounded like a run-of-the-mill politician (if you’ll forgive me) as opposed to the guy who was on the campaign trail. There’s two different Donald Trumps there.
JD: Yeah, I know. When he spoke that way, I didn’t know whether to hope or to be discouraged, especially when it comes to Hillary. You have this choice of prosecuting somebody who deserves to be prosecuted, but do you really want to have the situation where the loser of an election goes to jail? That’ s not what you do in our Western nations, so I think that’s a good precedent. It was probably a wise decision to back off that, and I’m hoping he continues that way.
LN: But at the same time, it’s gotta be a bit disappointing for his base who voted for him based on that sort of radical, no-holds-barred approach.
JD: Yeah. I wonder if it’s just the end of a long night for a guy who’s getting a bit older. But there was some indication in the last couple of weeks that he was, maybe say, becoming more Presidential. He wasn’t on Twitter anymore, I think his family took it away from him, so he’s understanding that his mouth can get him in trouble, and (he) took some steps to deal with that.
LN: There was a lot of debate and discussion within the Evangelical Christian community in the States about whether or not they could support Trump. I mean obviously there were some moral deficiencies there; I saw a lot of stuff that said both candidates are bad, (and that Trump) was just “less bad.” What does this (outcome) mean for Christians in the States? The pro-life movement? The Supreme Court appointments? All the stuff that goes with that – the whole host of issues that are important to Christian voters on both sides of the border. How do we read this result when we look at it in that context?
JD: We knew what we were gonna get with Hillary, and it was all bad. With Trump, there’s reason to hope, but it’s still very much up in the air. Is he going to stand by his promise to do Supreme Court judges with pro-life convictions, or is he going to do something where he throws somebody out there with a good pro-life record; they get voted down, and then he says “Well hey, I tried! You know, I tried to do it!” And then he goes and nominates his sister or something like that. So… we knew what we were gonna get with Hillary, and it’s all bad. We have reason to hope with Trump, and at the same time we have good reason to have doubts about Trump.
LN: From a Canadian perspective – if I can put it that way – and again I go back to that rally in Michigan. Trump basically talked about tearing up NAFTA, undoing the Auto Pact because (he wants to) make all the cars in the States or charge a 35% premium on cars that are built outside of the States if they’re sold there. There’s a lot of issues, economically, that are on the horizon here that are a bit worrying, I think, for Canadians. And yet at the same time, again, in his acceptance speech, we heard “we’ll be good friends to our friends, we’ll treat everybody fairly”; it was a slightly different refrain. What do we make of that?
JD: For a businessman, he doesn’t have a good understanding of basic economics. I am worried that his protectionism is going to be of the things he puts forward. He’d have a lot of people who would be eager to see that happen, even though it’s just picking the producers over the consumers; everybody in America would have to start paying higher prices for whatever he’s keeping out of the country. So that is one area where I’m worried he might actually do exactly what he’s (been) saying.
LN: Bottom line. Is this a positive result, do you think, from both a Christian and a Canadian perspective, or do we need to be worried?
JD: Well, I didn’t know what to hope for on this election night. But with Trump, there’s a lot of reasons to thank God for the blessings that we have in not having Hillary. We do have a chance to have a pro-life Supreme Court that might overturn Roe v. Wade, we have a much more optimistic look out at who’s going to be in the Cabinet, and we have control of the Senate and the House. But what we also have is a man who has said repeatedly that he’s never had to ask for forgiveness, and that many pivotal Evangelical Church figures have kind of hitched their wagon to. And so from the outside looking in if you see him, it looks as if the Church is OK with infidelity, OK with lying, OK with bullying, so long as it’s “our guy” doing it. So from a Christian perspective, what we need to do is pray for our new President, but (we) also (need to) make it clear that we’re praying for somebody who is not representative of what God is looking for. That there are changes that he needs to make. That this is not “our guy”. He has appointed himself as a saviour of sorts, and we already have one of those, so we need to distance ourselves.
To close the feature portion of the program this week, we feature some commentary from a man you’ve likely never heard of. Ernie Johnson is a sportscaster with Ted Turner’s TNT Sports Network; he primarily covers the NBA and Major League Baseball, but he’s also an outspoken Christian. He weighed in on the election results on Thursday:
‘When this campaign season started, I felt like I’d been dealt a bad hand. There were trust issues with Hillary Clinton I couldn’t get past, and there was this inflammatory rhetoric from Donald Trump which to me was incomprehensible and indefensible. I couldn’t vote for either one. For the first time in going to the polls for 42 years, I hit the “write-in” button, and I voted for John Kasich, knowing that John Kasich wasn’t going to win. But I left with a clear conscience because I hadn’t settled.
Number two, I’m hopeful. I watched the video today on CNN on what was going on at the White House, with Donald Trump and President Obama. I was encouraged that there will be a difference between the President Trump and the campaigning Trump.
But here’s the deal. I never know from one election to the next who’s going to be in the Oval Office. But I always know Who is on the throne.
I’m a Christian. I follow this guy named Jesus – you might have heard of Him. And the greatest commandment he gave me was to love others. And Scripture also tells us to pray for our leaders. And that’s what I’m going to do. I’m gonna pray for Donald Trump. I’m gonna pray for all those people right now who feel like they’re on the outside looking in.”
(This is a shortened version of Johnson’s full commentary. You can find the full video here.
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