Malcolm's Blog: LINK
As is bound to happen in the world of politics, every once in awhile you get into a bit of a disagreement here and there. As Malcolm noted in my comments section, he has left "miffed" response to my comments on Ryan Meili's plan to create a Faith and Social Justice Commission.
Now, I have left a response on Malcolm's blog as my rebuttal (his blog uses moderated comments, so it won't appear until it is approved by the moderator), but for the sake of posterity it is always good to have a record on one's own site as well. Foolishly, I submitted it before copying it, so I shall have to try to recreate the bulk of it from memory. My apologies to Malcolm if the comment and the post below do not match verbatim, and my assurances that it is not an attempt by me to try and straighten out my response that was originally left.
Firstly, allow me to take some offense to being called ignorant. I am indeed aware of the role that people of faith played in the CCF-NDP, and the social justice movement. I know that many of our leaders and people who have made positive change and strides in social justice have done so motivated from a place of faith, and I do not mean to make it sound as if people of faith have not contributed anything to our party's history.
Now I need to address the mention of abortion. Perhaps I wasn't as clear as I could have been in citing this as an example of 'issue voting'; the idea that people will decide whether or not to support a candidate or a party based on a single issue. I was not implying that all religious voters cast their ballot solely based on a party's stance on abortion, which you say I was, but rather it was a knee-jerk example that served the point.
I know religious people who do identify as pro-choice, and as such, a party's stance on abortion matters little to them. But at the same time, I've canvassed dozens of neighbourhoods and met various people who have liked things the NDP has done, who liked the party's platform on other issues, but refused to vote for us simply on the abortion issue alone. As such, I thought it was a good example of issue voting in practice. Again, I could have been clearer on this being an example, so we'll chalk that one up to my fault on being vague.
I think we both agree that religious individuals have played a role in our party's history, and indeed the history of the social justice movement, and that they continue to contribute to the discussion today. But the main argument of my post was that those religious individuals who place social justice above all else already stand with us.
Those who live the gospels and try to help their neighbours and make the world a little better stand with us already; we are not alienating potential allies.
The fact of the matter is that issue voting will shape a person's decision to support a party or not. Whether the issue is social (abortion, same-sex marriage, homelessness, etc), financial (taxes, infrastructure spending, etc), or Canadian staples (health care, etc) doesn't matter, because in the end people who judge a party by a single issue will always take offense to the NDP if our view doesn't align with theirs.
This is not to say that all religious people forgo the NDP as a potential choice; as there will be people motivated through social justice and who see that as the most important issue to vote for, but at the same time there will be people (religious or not) who will find another issue that they disagree with the party on and will make that the key factor for their lack of support.
I am not against having a discussion; but I think we've proven, as your history shows and as we both know in the NDP today, that people of faith motivated by social justice stand with us already. This discussion, regardless of how open, will not woo new voters who continue to vote on a single issue mentality. As such, you can understand (hopefully) the trepidation I have over a commission that could lead to us compromising one or two issues in order to finally sway those single-issue voters.
Ultimately, I think that we have the people who want to make social justice a reality on side; and individuals like yourself lead me to believe that is mostly correct, as you are a man of faith who cares about social justice and supports the NDP. We have people of faith in the party, we have always had people of faith in the party, and we will continue to have people of faith in the party.
I'm not hoodwinked by the far right, as I believe that some religious voters we will never reach as long as they vote by a single issue. If you want to get secular, look at business owners. Until the last election, the NDP had never really done press announcements in a small business with a small business owner calling on his community to vote for the NDP. Yet that's what happened in North Battleford, and it was due to our call to eliminate the small business tax.
We changed something about our platform, and changed a bit of the dynamic in our party. But we had to put something up to get those people there; and my concern is that to fully woo these single-issue voters, we will have to make the same compromises.
So, I'm not anti-religious voters; I'm anti-single-issue voters.
Now, looking at the post, I can see somethings in there that definitely weren't in the comment...But, I suppose we'll chalk that up to passion of the moment. As I stated in my comment, I hope that this gets us eye to eye on the issue and that we've cleared up some of the misconceptions and misinterpretations that came from my original post. If not, I'll be glad to continue to try and get us to that point.