There are plenty of resources to help Catholic voters. Photo from Elections Canada

Cathy Majtenyi: Let’s focus on the big picture

By 
  • September 15, 2021

Fear and anger. These are some of the strong emotions many Canadians have experienced in preparing to vote in the Sept. 20 federal election.

A sizeable number of people are afraid to go to election stations. An Aug. 30 Ipos poll commissioned by Global News found that almost one-quarter of the 1,500 Canadians surveyed said they are reluctant to vote in person, fuelled by concerns over COVID’s highly contagious delta variant.

They are also angry about what they say is an early election call. Fifty-eight per cent of those polled stated an election should not have been called at this time; that number jumped to 68 per cent in another Ipos poll conducted just a couple of weeks later.

These are volatile times. COVID cases are rising across the country, parents and teachers are trying to figure out safe back-to-school protocols, employees are returning to workplaces that are still creating safety policies and procedures, and restrictions are changing at rapid speeds.

Even more challenging is the deepening divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. A vocal minority is taking its opposition to vaccine passports, masks and other health measures to the extreme, hurling rocks, insults and obscenities at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the campaign trail.

This shocking display of anger and ignorance has made its mark, with 17 per cent of respondents in a Sept. 9 Ipos poll saying that the protests will impact how they vote.

Voters must be careful not to allow strong emotions, fears, protests, opinions, misinformation and other distractions — particularly concerning COVID-19 — to solely determine who they vote for or even if they will dare to vote at all. 

The election is much more than just about opposition to, or support for, COVID policies and practices, although that could be one of many factors to take into consideration.We need to take a big-picture view of the future, even beyond just COVID recovery.

To get into this big-picture mindset, Catholic voters should study very carefully the Canada Votes 2021 page produced by Catholic Conscience (catholicconscience.org)

“Canada’s next federal election will offer voters an opportunity to ensure that the country is guided by leaders who will provide practical and efficient leadership with the good of all in mind,” says Catholic Conscience’s website.

“It will also offer an opportunity for bold, meaningful steps in the process of building a just society and economy, a society and economy that are, in the words of Pope Francis, structured to serve people.”

The website identifies seven sections of concern: The Sanctity of Human Life: from Conception to Natural Death; Stewardship of Creation; Family, Community and the Common Good; An Economy for All; The Individual & Society: Rights, Responsibility, & Subsidiarity; Solidarity; and Good Government: Democracy, Justice and Peace.

Each section opens with an outline of Church teachings on the topic, followed by a listing of the relevant portions from the seven political parties’ platforms based on party documents and communications sent to Catholic Conscience directly from the parties.

Summarizing each section are “Points to Consider,” questions voters can ask local candidates.

Another helpful resource is a series the Archdiocese of Toronto produced for the 2019 federal election. Some reflection questions from that package include:

  • How can we collectively work toward a practical plan to reduce carbon emissions by the amount recommended by the scientific community and within the timeline they call for?
  • Who has a plan to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals who reject physician-assisted suicide and cannot perform or refer the procedure?
  • What actions can the Canadian government take to improve the lives of Indigenous people?
  • How should the federal government respond to the large number of people who want to make Canada their home?
  • How can I personally foster respectful dialogue surrounding the federal election campaign?
  • What can the Canadian government do to end child poverty?
  • What could limit religious freedom in Canada? What can Canadians do to protect their religious freedom?

These are some of the many resources that can help Catholic voters move beyond the emotion of the moment to cast their vote based on the Christian vision of a just, caring society.

(Majtenyi is a public relations officer who specializes in research at an Ontario university.)

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