Andrew Scheer, Justin Trudeau, Catholicism and Personal Beliefs
Toronto, ON November 13, 2019 – Throughout the election campaign Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer was clear on two points. Firstly, he holds personal beliefs on several issues regarding same sex marriage and abortion and secondly, that as Prime Minister, he would fight for the rights of all Canadians including LGBTQ+ people and that he would not reopen the abortion debate. We know this because he said as much many times.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a professed Catholic, was previously explicit in his opposition to the Church’s teachings on abortion or other issues, going so far as to deny prolife candidates from running for the federal Liberal party since 2015. In the most recent campaign, he went further advising that his beliefs had evolved, and that he supported an outright pro-abortion position.
Many members of the media questioned Andrew Scheer about his personal beliefs on abortion and gay marriage, some more aggressively than others, citing among other things that Mr. Scheer is a serious Catholic and that his father is a permanent deacon of the Catholic church.
The implication was that he could not be trusted since as a Catholic, he would be bound to act upon these beliefs and that restrictions on women’s access to abortion would be implemented and that more vaguely, LGBTQ+ Canadians might incur curtailments of currently established freedoms.
Questions from the media were persistent and there was a general vehemence that no matter what he said, no matter how many times Andrew Scheer attempted to reassure Canadians that there would be no curtailment of gay marriage or access to abortion with a Conservative victory with him serving as Prime Minister, that he could not be trusted due to his personal views, formed no doubt by his Catholicism.
During the election campaign many supporters of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) contacted us with serious concerns about unfair treatment of Scheer by the media in general and from certain opinion columnists specifically.
Post-election, the questions of Mr. Scheer have continued with reporters asking his views (but not those of other party leaders) whether he considered homosexuality a sin.
The CCRL, having not registered under the revised federal Elections Canada guidelines as a third party, nevertheless monitored the campaign closely. The League supports a robust place for faith in the public square, and indeed with the hope that people of faith would get involved in politics.
Political life must not be bereft of faith and people of faith must not be compelled to subjugate their beliefs to contribute in political life.
This message was not conveyed by any party leader or by any serious candidate.
Most importantly, the League does not support the notion of private beliefs or personal beliefs when it comes to our shared Catholic depository of the faith that we are all called to live out in all aspects of our lives, including and especially for a politician, in the public square.
We, as Catholics, must live the faith with a legitimate desire to share what we know to be true about life and the human person with the world, working together for the common good to build a better Canada and indeed a better world.
This does not mean that we must use political means to force our understanding on others, but it does mean that in attempting to govern, we do not violate our own beliefs and that we must at least make progress in working toward a goal in promoting them.
Andrew Scheer, for example, after assuring Canadians that he would not reopen the abortion debate, could have acted in accordance with his Catholic prolife views by pledging support for maternal healthcare both in Canada and abroad, as the previous Conservative government did, and of which Mr. Scheer was a member.
Particularly in developing nations, thousands of women and their babies die each year due to the scarcity of basic medial care that we take for granted in the northern and western hemispheres. Certainly millions of Canadians including those that do not support our belief in the dignity of human life from conception to natural death would in turn support a more robust foreign aid policy that provides more for women and their babies overseas than the Trudeau government’s current crass funding for abortion and sterilization in the developing world.
How about a new national adoption policy that helps women in crisis pregnancies choose adoption, for which demand remains high?
Although Scheer did not deserve to be browbeaten by the media for his beliefs as a Catholic, the Catholic politician must also have the courage to live out his or her faith in the public square. In Canada, in the current political and cultural climate, even if it might seem politically impossible to introduce legislation that would better address our belief in the dignity, indeed the sanctity of human life, positive steps as outlined above could nevertheless be taken to work toward this goal.
What happened instead, regrettably, was an attempt to relegate our Catholic faith to the banished realm of personal and private beliefs.
Anti-Catholic rhetoric remained high during the campaign, as seen by the way Andrew Scheer was treated. Being a serious Catholic, he was put under a much greater level of scrutiny than even his closest opponents, seemingly only because he tries to adhere to Catholicism. Imagine reporters bringing up articles of the Sikh faith in trying to surmise what Jagmeet Singh would do in certain circumstances of national interest. That did not happen. Instead, he was simply asked what he would do in terms of policy, and his word was taken at face value. Andrew Scheer was not afforded this right because he is Catholic.
Now, with the election over, the media continues to ask Andrew Scheer questions about his faith life. It is becoming clear that the media has no qualms about getting into specific areas of religious belief with Andrew Scheer and with him alone. No other politician is asked such questions with such tenacity, if they are ever asked to declare and defend their faith at all.
The message is becoming more and more clear in Canada. If you are a serious Catholic and you wish to participate in public life, the yoke will not be easy, and the burden will not be light.
The 2019 Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life will be presented to Fr. Tony Van Hee at the 2019 CCRL Dinner.
We encourage our supporters and friends to attend the 2019 Dinner to support our work and to meet Deborah and Fr. Tony.
For tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-466-8244 or 1-844-722-CCRL. Tickets are $125 each for individuals. We are offering a special rate of $1000 for a table of 10. We encourage organizations, or even groups of friends to save money and help the CCRL by organizing a table. With either option an RSVP is required by calling (416) 466-8244 or 1-844-722-CCRL or by emailing email@example.com.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
To donate to the CCRL, please click here.
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