Voices April 11, 2019
Putting an end to ‘politics as usual’
With a federal election just months away, there are a couple of demographics who are woefully unrepresented when it comes to political influence in Canada: Christians, and millennials.
In neither case is it because of their size. Christians make up two-thirds of Canadians, with Catholics and evangelicals alone comprising 40 per cent and 10 per cent of the population respectively. That’s a sizeable majority by any standard.
Then there’s young people, or more specifically millennial, those born between 1980 and 2000. A recent Vancouver Sun article said there’s no group that is better positioned than millennials to dramatically reshape politics and election platforms this fall.
Millennials account for more than a third of eligible voters, potentially the largest voting bloc, writes Daphne Bramham. “Yet right now, they are almost voiceless in parliament and legislatures, and nowhere are they so remarkably unrepresented as in British Columbia.”
Because of the unique issues millennials face – wage stagnation, job insecurity, home affordability – they should have every motivation to get involved in politics and try to have more input on political policy in Canada.
Yet, apart from voting en masse for Justin Trudeau in 2015, political apathy prevails. Only 57 per cent of millennials even bothered to cast a ballot in the last election, compared with nearly 80 per cent of Canadians 65 to 74.
Then there are Canada’s Christians. Our impressive numbers belie our actual political influence, not because we don’t vote, but because we neglect to “work smarter, not harder,” as the saying goes. We fail to think strategically the way those who influence public policy in a negative way do. Fortunately, groups like Right Now are trying to change how we do politics through strategic mobilization and organization at the grassroots.
Another positive sign is the new Civic Affairs Committee at St. James Parish in Abbotsford, which last week held its first event, a gathering called Politics for Dummies.
The goal of the committee is to help parishioners become more engaged in political life, bringing their Catholic values to the political realm.
This is long overdue. Christians have been far too content to sit back and complain about the changes going on in our society while they sit on the sidelines. The Civic Affairs Committee is a non-partisan initiative that has already caught the eye of other Catholic and non-Catholic churches.
As one organizer put it, it’s time Catholics and other Christians learned how to wisely engage. “Through these committees we'll begin to turn back the tide of darkness that is slowly engulfing us.”
In 1971, Pope Paul VI wrote in Octogesima Adveniens that “laymen should take up as their own proper task the renewal of the temporal order … without waiting passively for orders and directives, to take initiatives freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live.”
Indeed, it’s time Christians, Catholics, young people, and everyone concerned about the direction we’re headed took steps to bring about the changes they want to see in our society.
As Octogesima Adveniens put it, “It is too easy to throw back on others responsibility for injustice” if at the same time we don’t examine our role in it and our need for change.
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