Monday, May 16, 2011

Are there limits to what people in politics can believe?

As anyone that knows me, I am in no way shape or form a social conservative.   Government has no business messing in people's lives.   That said, I am concerned that the scope of what someone can believe and be in politics is defacto limited in Canada.  

Last week in coming new BC Conservative leader John Cummins expressed his views on homosexuality and abortion while he was being interviewed by Stephen Andrew on CFAX.   He was raked over the coals for answering the questions asked about his views on the issues and done so in such a way as to effectively say "How dare you believe that?"

People in politics have a right to have their views, especially their personal views informed by their faith.   I may completely disagree with John Cummins on his personal views on various social issues, but I respect his right to hold them.   Making people feel hounded or feel defensive for expressing their views is not going to improve the form or quality of our political discourse.

If you disagree with John Cummins, promote your views, do not spend a lot of attacking him for his views.

Here is the text of a letter sent out by John Cummins:
I wanted to send you a note – there has been a lot of coverage in the media today about some remarks I made on the radio yesterday. I went on the radio for an interview about things I’ve been talking about on my tour – jobs, education, taxes - and the interviewer decided to bring up moral issues out of the blue.
I want to make my position clear to you: I am pro-life, but a BC Conservative government will not de-fund abortion in British Columbia. There has also been talk about my position on special rights within the Human Rights Act. My long standing position is that all people are equal, and there should be no special standing for any class of people. As you know, this is a deeply held principle of conservatism. 
The reality is the people of British Columbia don’t want to talk about these issues; they are settled. Period. 
I understand this, you understand this, and it seems the only people who want to talk about this is the media. They take great pleasure in raising these issues, knowing it will make for great, controversial news, but it ultimately has no bearing on the issues that people I’m meeting across the province care about. Issues like the HST, the carbon tax, healthcare, and transparency in government..

As a federal MP for nearly 18 years, my personal views are well known. I’m a practicing Catholic, and like many people of faith in BC, I find my private beliefs provide me with strength, but my beliefs do not impact public policy. 
I want to thank you for all the time you have already put into helping to build the new Conservative party. I’m looking forward to working with you in creating a common sense choice for British Columbians we can all be proud of. I look forward to seeing you at the convention on May 28th, if not sooner. 
John Cummins

1 comment:

Brian said...

John Cummins does indeed have a perfect right to hold any beliefs he likes, no matter what other people may think about them - progressive or reactionary, forward-looking or atavistic, light on one's feet or knuckle-dragging shamble.

But he also has a responsibility to defend his beliefs, even (and especially) when people call bullshit on them, and him. That's why I did not care for his "clarifications" communication later, which seemed to be a backing away from his original dog-whistle to potential social conservative voters.

I'm also not as faithful, as he seems to be, that men (and women) of faith can govern without their personal beliefs hindering (or sometimes aiding) their work in the service of the public. Case in point, William Van der Zalm... ooooh, what fun we had with him, back in the day....