With a federal election less than five months away, the real challenge for political enthusiasts often isn’t to persuade others to vote for a particular party, but getting them to vote at all.

If you look at the last federal election in 2015, we can see some of the impact of people not voting. For instance, a higher percentage of Catholics who don’t regularly go to church voted than Catholics who are regular church attendees, according to Ian Holliday of Angus Reid.

The voting pattern of those non-church goers was also much different from that of regular attendees. As a result, Catholics who don’t go to church very often had a bigger impact on the election than those who attend every week.

Imagine if Canada’s collective Catholic population started acting as though it could make an impact on the public square. It’s been apparent for some time that the forces having the greatest influence on our culture have no lack of resolve when it comes to getting what they want. They’re relentless, and no sooner have they achieved one goal than they’re working on the next. Case in point: euthanasia was barely legalized in Canada before efforts were under way to extend it to children and the mentally ill.

It’s been a nice surprise in recent weeks to see some instances of people pushing back, with success, against the progressive agenda.

In Ontario, the law society in 2017 introduced a requirement that all its lawyers draft a statement of principles “acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.”

That directive immediately generated resistance from some lawyers who felt it was polarizing and amounted to forced speech among legal professionals.

In her blog, 3rd year law student Lia Milousis, a Christian, wrote, “Remember, the ones policing this are the same legal regulators who refused to accredit Trinity Western’s proposed law school. They had their own ideas about the meaning of equality, diversity, and inclusion.”

Before long, thousands of members of the law society had risen in protest against the mandated statement of principles (SOP). Then, during executive elections last month to elect a new board, 22 candidates opposed to the SOP decided to run, citing how the requirement “compels speech, infringes freedom of thought and conscience, and imposes a political litmus test for the practice of law in Ontario.”

Few could have predicted the outcome, and lawyers and law students who opposed the mandate likely had low expectations, said Milousis. “There were 126 candidates vying for just 40 positions. The cynic in me believed that getting even 1 out of the 22 StopSOP lawyers elected would be an unlikely success.”

So when the election results were released on May 1, said Milousis, “I and every other politically aware lawyer I knew was shocked. All 22 of the anti-SOP candidates had been elected. All of them.”

Another example of Canadians refusing to roll over began a few weeks ago when the successful pro-life film Unplanned opened in the U.S., while Canadian theatre chains refused to show it. 

Rather than be silent, pro-life Canadians started doing something about it. They made plans to bring the film north for private screenings and launched efforts to shame the theatre chains for refusing to carry the film. 

More than 200,000 people signed a CitizenGo petition calling on Cineplex to carry the movie. An online “Canada Wants Unplanned” boycott of the movie chain was launched.

In an interview, campaign organizer Faytene Grasseschi said, “We’re waking them up.”

Indeed, within two days of the boycott, the film’s producers said they were in touch with a third party to initiate a deal with Cineplex. There’s no guarantee a deal will be reached, and the boycott continues until there is one, but it shows what can happen when people realize they have the same rights and powers their opponents do.

Across the United States, the pro-life community is learning that lesson in a big way, as states introduce pro-life laws aimed at shaking up and waking up a slumbering public and pro-lifers who have been silent too long. The bills, intended to bring the abortion issue to the attention of the public and the Supreme Court, have the media and entertainment industries on red alert, with companies like Marvel, Disney, and Netflix threatening to leave those states that introduce restrictive abortion laws.

That’s to be expected. The Lord promised he came not to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, setting fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and members of households against one another. 

There should be no surprise that when people start standing up for what they believe, the underlying division that’s been hidden all along will become very apparent.

The new Civic Affairs Committee at St. James Church in Abbotsford was created to help members of the parish community become more aware and engaged from a Christian perspective in public affairs. The group is now attracting interest from other parishes and Christian churches and will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, June 4, with Awake the Sleeping Giant: How Christians Can Make an Impact on the Public Square.  Visit the Archdiocese of Vancouver Calendar for more information. — PS

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