The symptoms are familiar—bitter rhetoric, divided allegiances, and enmity-edged partisanship— but the scenery has headed North of sunny Florida.

Canadians cast their votes yesterday in a sudden election called by Prime Minister Jean Chretien after five short weeks of campaign recriminations and mud slinging. While the Liberal victory brought few surprises, (the Liberal party has been in power in Canada since 1993 and Chretien was expected to scoop up about 40 percent of the votes), it left in its wake an unsettling precedent of arguing that faith is a disqualification for public service.

Personal attacks are nothing new in rough and tumble campaigns, but the rhetoric advanced in an attempt to discredit Canadian Alliance party leader Stockwell Day was of particular concern to many of Canada's religious leaders. Candidates from each party were smeared: Chretien was accused of giving government favors to friends, members of the Bloc party were pinned "unrealistic isolationists," and the New Democratic Party's Alexa McDonough was called a shrew. But the majority of attacks on Day seemed to center on his faith.

Day was a large motivator in Chretien's decision to call an early election with such short notice. Many believe the Prime Minister was seeking to stall the Canadian Alliance's growing momentum, as well as the former Pentecostal pastor's march toward ministerial candidacy. Only 10 percent of Canadians are evangelicals, so Day's recent victories in Parliament and in leadership of the Canadian Alliance have shaken up the status quo and made many take notice of the candidate who refused to campaign on Sundays in order to worship and rest with his family.

The New Democratic Party's McDonough called Day a "cockroach," but it was ...

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