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Why Showcase Politicians?
Faith Today gives national party leaders a fair hearing.

Though I grew up in Toronto, our family always said we lived in Swansea, a small municipality that kept its identity until it amalgamated with the larger city in the 1960s. We were proud of our village with its own public school, library, town hall and volunteer fire department. Geography gave Swansea a natural boundary with Lake Ontario, Humber River, High Park and Bloor Street. We had small town intimacy with the advantages of a big city. We were used to interdenominational church services for school events, yet could hop on the Bloor or Queen streetcar to benefit from the downtown department stores. We had the best of both worlds.

… Faith Today has created our own town hall meeting for the upcoming election.

In Swansea, it was easy to know your municipal politicians. They lived in the area, their children went to the local schools and not much of their lives was hidden from the village "bush" telegraph. By the time the town hall candidate meetings took place, most Swansea residents knew what questions to ask and probably the answers. Good-natured bantering and concerned challenges passed easily throughout the audience. It was considered proper not to say whom you would vote for; still most people found it easy to guess. Most voted for the same political party; others voted according to their religious leanings; both rarely changed throughout their lives.

Fifty years later advances in technology now provide us the same experiences we had in the small village of Swansea. We can know the candidates through the media "bush" telegraph. With daily newspapers, TV commentaries and Web access to articles and public opinion, we can become informed about our local and national candidates on a daily basis. We can measure their track records, assess their character and join in debate with our neighbours. Our world has shrunk to a global village.

But many feel frustrated with the short sound bites and media slant that shape and screen this information. That's why Faith Today has created our own town hall meeting for the upcoming election. We want to give the national party leaders the opportunity to speak on faith and politics in a fair and open manner—without interruptions and editing.

The four official party leaders were invited to answer the same question and, provided they stuck within a word limit, we agreed not to edit their answers. We asked: What role do you think faith should play in developing public policy, and what is the place of religious institutions in contemporary Canadian society? The leaders responded quickly, and you will find their answers in the story, Faith and Politics: Party Leaders Respond.

Because the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the publisher of Faith Today, is a non-partisan charity, we also gave all of the parties registered with Elections Canada the opportunity to answer the same question.

You will find all responses posted here on the EFC's website for the Christian community, See all related articles below.

Gail Reid is managing editor of Faith Today and director of communications for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Originally published in Faith Today, January/February 2006.




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