Just as the religious faith of George Bush, Al Gore, and Joe Lieberman played a major part in the U.S. presidential contest, so religion became an issue in the Canadian elections, where Jean Chrétien's Liberal party won enough to guarantee a third term for the prime minister.
But some Canadians just overdid it.
Stockwell Day, leader of the conservative Canadian Alliance, is a Pentecostal former pastor and Christian-school administrator. While criticism of Day and the Alliance initially focused on his policy proposals, it took a nasty turn—and got nastier every day. Day found himself defending not his proposed tax cuts or even his stance on abortion but his religious beliefs.
When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Day was a young-earth creationist who believed humans coexisted with dinosaurs, the media and Liberals went nuts. One official showed up on national TV with a stuffed Barney dinosaur, mockingly accusing Day of being the only Canadian politician who thinks "The Flintstones is a documentary."
And it got worse. Chrétien himself, who said he only believed in the "creation of jobs," ridiculed Day's refusal to campaign on Sundays. "Being prime minister is more than photo ops. It's a full-time job, even on Sunday," he said.
Worse still, Liberal MP Hedy Fry told a rally, "When [Day] said that 'Jesus Christ is the God of the whole universe,' I say that is an insult to every Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh—everybody else who believes in other religions." Others suggested that Day's "super-religiosity" was "scary."
Religious organizations finally cried foul. "All Canadians of any faith tradition have reason to be concerned over the recent attacks on Stockwell Day's religious beliefs," said a statement by the Evangelical ...1