Even as recently as 1982, when the constitution was patriated, the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirmed that “Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God,” writes editorial. Photo/Pixabay

Editorial: Don’t forget faith as Canada celebrates 150th birthday

By 
  • June 29, 2017

When Canada became a nation 150 years ago there was little debate about the prominent place of faith in society. Canada was to be built on Christian values. The founders rejected names such as Kingdom of Canada and Republic of Canada in favour of Dominion of Canada, a tribute to Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.”

That Christian ethos went unchallenged during  Canada’s first 100 years. Even as recently as 1982, when the constitution was patriated, the preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirmed that “Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God.”

But as Canada turns 150, one of many ways the nation has changed is that broad acceptance of faith in public affairs is no longer taken for granted. Some people even suggest religion is under attack, which may be excessive. Religion is more the target of a cultural siege than a full-on civil assault. Either way, though, the result is that faith is less welcome in the public square of 21st-century Canada.

The political backslapping sparked by the anniversary celebrations has included countless testaments to how Canada has become a nation of respect, tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness. That is certainly true in many ways, and even in religion it’s clear that Canada is increasingly diverse. But when it comes to respect, tolerance and the inclusion in public life of faith-held beliefs and values, the opposite is true. Canada is less accommodating.

Hardly a week passes without another example of this. In Ontario, doctors who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide on religious or moral grounds are currently denied the right to opt out directly or indirectly in the practice. In Edmonton, a pro-life group which has operated a booth for 15 years at an annual event hosted at a city-owned site is being locked out due to a “new policy” that bans “religious organizations.” Ottawa MPs are being asked to revoke a law that currently makes it a criminal offence to obstruct clergy or cause a disturbance during a religious service.

In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation sought to nurture a connection between faith and nationhood.  Many of them would have understood the vital role played by generations of faith leaders — beginning with St. Francois Laval and St. Marie l’Incarnation in the 17th century and carried on by others through the decades — in knitting the social fabric and setting a moral compass for the new nation. They would be disappointed to see that Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations give barely a nod to the nation’s deep and important religious history.

Also unlikely to be mentioned much is that Dominion of Canada is still Canada’s formal name, and that He still has dominion from sea to sea.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location