Stockwell Day, an outspoken Pentecostal layman, has provided a breakthrough for conservative Christians by becoming leader of Canadian Alliance, the nation's biggest opposition party.The popular 49-year-old former treasurer of Alberta is expected to take on two-term Prime Minister Jean Chretien in national elections next year.On Monday, September 11, Day took another step toward prime ministerial candidacy by winning a rural parliamentary seat in British Columbia. With half of the votes counted last night Day lead by 71 percent.Concerned about Day's conservative and profamily views, opponents say there is no place in the Canadian Alliance for the religious right.Evangelicals in Canada are largely an unknown quantity, says Janet Epp Buckingham, legal counsel of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Evangelicals are less prominent in Canada (at 10 percent of the population) than in the United States. "A lot of people don't know evangelical Christians. They're easy to stereotype," she says.Some Canadians fear that fallen American televangelists will run the country, as Day's opponents suggest. Such anxiety is ironic since the Canadian evangelical tradition originated in the Great Awakening of 18th-century Britain and not in American televangelism.Brian Stiller, president of the evangelical Tyndale College in Toronto, toured Canada's talk shows during the 1980s and 1990s, countering stereotypes and providing an evangelical perspective. Stiller notes a sweeping change among average Canadians that pundits have yet to grasp."Spirituality is seen increasingly not only as legitimate but as essential to people's well-being," he says. Further, as evangelical churches grow, mainline Protestant churches are "falling like a stone."Day ...

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Canada: Pentecostal Shakes up Canadian Politics
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October 2, 2000

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