Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Campaign Update: Ryan Meili

Ryan's Website: LINK

Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in! I should have known that when I said that last post was likely the last of post of 2012 that I was setting myself up for another post to have to be put up. This will be one of two posts, the second will be an editorial content on endorsements (in light of Cam Broten scoring the endorsement of MLA Doyle Vermette), though the second post will take a little while to get put up.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Ryan Meili released another campaign policy today, this time focusing on the similarities shared by those seeking to achieve social justice and those of faith. As such, Ryan is focusing on creating a plan to reach out to faith-based communities and use these similarities to foster areas of support.

As such, Ryan's plan calls for the creation of a Faith and Social Justice Commission, modelled off the federal NDP commission, to provide an open space to discuss faith and politics within the party; expanding on the guidance from this committee to develop an outreach strategy to engage faith groups, while listening to their concerns and striving towards finding common goals and egalitarian values shared by the NDP; and finally using these new connections and discussions to develop policy to bring back to the party.

The idea has generated some buzz, including high praise from former Premier Lorne Calvert, though I think there is a lot to be said in the quote from Calvert in the news release: "While the party is not and must not be shaped by religion, faith has inspired many of us to seek justice through political action." I think the intention is rather clear there, in that no one wants to see the NDP become guided by fundamentalist ideals of any religious group, and any discussion of faith and politics must not go too far.


Ultimately, it will all come down to the balance that the commission strikes between engaging faith based communities and the level of policy guiding that they ultimately achieve in the long term. I don't think anyone wants to see the party compromise on values that we've held for years in order to woo voters from the religious sphere; but I think we must also accept that religious voters who don't support us now will not support us until compromises occur.

It doesn't matter whether or not a person is a firm believer in social justice; if they vote based on a party's stance on abortion, it doesn't matter what you're planning to do with regards to social justice. We can have these discussions, but ultimately I think trying to woo single issue voters by offering more inclusion won't work unless the party compromises on the single issue.

The faith based communities who value social justice over other issues already stand with the NDP, most of the time, and they have a voice in the discussion. We don't have to win this group over, we just have to follow through with an agenda that includes social justice when the NDP is returned to power to keep them in our corner.

I fear I've editorialized this post more than I meant to, but I do think there are valid concerns to have over such a commission as this. There is nothing wrong with having a discussion, and attempting to do better to connect our values with those of faith-based groups throughout Saskatchewan; but at the same time, we must take heed to ensure that we are not crafting party policy that compromises on our own social values.



3 comments:

Luna said...

This is a topic near and dear to my heart as a devout Christian and diehard socialist.

You are absolutely right about "It doesn't matter whether or not a person is a firm believer in social justice; if they vote based on a party's stance on abortion, it doesn't matter what you're planning to do with regards to social justice." There are definitely some people who draw their line in the sand at the abortion issue, and they will not ever vote for a party that supports choice. But I think there are also a lot who don't know what else there is, and assume that if you're pro-choice, you're also against all other Christian values. They only know what they're hearing, and they might be swayed if someone else talks to them instead of assuming they can't see reason.

At one point you say, "but I think we must also accept that religious voters who don't support us now will not support us until compromises occur". Here you're conflating religious voters with one-issue voters. And that's not fair. Plenty of us are not that way. However, I think it becomes clear you know that a bit further on when you say, "The faith based communities who value social justice over other issues already stand with the NDP, most of the time, and they have a voice in the discussion. We don't have to win this group over, we just have to follow through with an agenda that includes social justice when the NDP is returned to power to keep them in our corner."

Now, I think that's particularly risky. You have to keep wooing voters. Always. Especially when the cons sell themselves with fear and greed. People are easily swayed by that. I know otherwise fine people who don't give a rat's ass about abortion who work at food drives and support liberal churches like the United Church of Canada who turn around and vote Conservative. Seriously. It baffles my mind how they can do that, but fear and greed are damned powerful.

tl;dr version: Conversations about the union of politics and religion are important and well-worth the effort. A conversation doesn't imply compromise. Only mutual understanding. And only good can come of that.


Malcolm+ said...

Scott, I've published a rather miffed assessment of your coverage at Simple Massing Priest.

http://simplemassingpriest.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-sad-plight-of-religious-progressive.html

Malcolm+ said...

I've responded to your response at Simple Massing Priest.