Canadians elected an unprecedented number of evangelicals to Parliament last November, including Day, leader of the neoconservative Canadian Alliance party. Day, a veteran of provincial politics but a newcomer to Ottawa, quickly lost control of his caucus.
By May, several longtime members of Parliament, including some staunch Christians, began asking Day to step down, saying they could not work with him as a leader. Although they would not discuss specifics, they said Day was unable to move the party forward.
A dozen Alliance mps left or were suspended from the 66-member caucus and senior office staff resigned while other members tried to patch the party together.
On July 17, with the backing of his remaining caucus, Day announced that he would step down and call for a leadership review. But he didn't say when. Two days later, dissidents said they would sit in Parliament as a separate group. The dissidents are led by deposed House leader Chuck Strahl and Deborah Grey—the longest-serving member of the Alliance and its predecessor, the Reform Party.
Despite the stress, Day never speaks ill of those who have opposed him, says supporter Maurice Vellacott, an mp and a former pastor from Saskatoon.
While observers see the fracture as a leadership issue rather than as a religious clash, they agree that the infighting damages the already beleaguered reputation of Christianity in Canada. While the Canadian Alliance is not a Christian party, it has attracted more Christians as supporters and elected members than any other Canadian political party ...1
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