Canadians elected on January 23 a government headed by a conservative Christian. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, governs with a minority in Parliament and now must convince at least one or two of the other parties to agreeon an issue-by-issue basisto pass any legislation.
The Conservative victory ended 12 years of a Liberal administration humbled by corruption scandals and dithering leadership. In recent years Liberals also championed an aggressive social agenda that drew many previously quiescent Christians into the political process. Last year, the government changed the traditional definition of "marriage" to include homosexual couples.
According to Harper biographer Lloyd Mackey, the new prime minister's "personal faith has been shaped through such influences as C. S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge." He attends Christian and Missionary Alliance congregations.
In his election night speech, Harper thanked supporters for their "labors, donations, and prayers," and concluded with "God bless Canada." Canadians rarely hear such language from their politicians.
Throughout the campaign, Liberal rhetoric focused on raising fears about Conservative "hidden agendas," implying regressive social policies and the "scary" prospect of an evangelical prime minister. Such warnings may have suppressed Conservatives gains in major urban centers.
In his first press conference after the election, Harper said he intended to ask Parliament "sooner rather than later, but not immediately" whether it wishes to consider restoring the traditional definition of marriage.
While Canadians eagerly desire change, the social conservative agenda is only a segment of the Conservative support base and a liability ...1