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Robert Silver

The real cultural warrior arrives on the battlefield Add to ...

There was a rather remarkable interview on CBC's Power & Politics yesterday (while I encourage you to watch the entire two-hour video, you can skip ahead to the one hour, 27 minute mark for the clip to which I am referring).

Charles McVety - Canada's leading evangelical leader and the founder of Canada Christian College - has a fairly predictable take on the Harper government's decision not to fund abortions abroad (though his plea not to "politicize" abortion, while taking what is by any definition a "political" position is a bit rich).

From there, the interview gets interesting:

» When Evan Solomon asks him about countries like the Congo where rape is used as a tool of war (per Bob Rae yesterday), McVety responds "how many of those happen?" and says that rape in the Congo is an "aberration", "One in a million". What a disgusting comment, that has no basis in fact (http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/policy/conflict_disasters/sexual-violence-drc.html) never mind the repulsion of him trying to trivialise atrocities against women.

» His real mission - that he was on Parliament Hill campaigning on yesterday - is to take on "activist judges." McVety said - and this is a direct quote - "this is the most important issue of our time. Out-of-control lawmaking judges have legalised two types of child pornography, reduced the age of consent for anal sex to 14 and redefined marriage." Ah anal sex, far more of an evil than hetero sex by kids. And on letting gays marry, put aside equality, it was ultimately Parliament - including many Conservative members - who supported same-sex marriage. But again - this is the most important issue of our time to McVety.

» He points out that seven of nine the Supreme Court justices are of retirement age and McVety is angling for a U.S. style appointment battle. Because of course it works so well for them.

» He takes out of context Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin's comments about judges acting as "law makers" in social policy. She's a bad woman, a worse judge and a convenient target for McVety.

» He calls for a full debate on judicial "philosophy" and how judges are appointed. In other words, he calls for a battle - some people might use the word war - based on important social, maybe even cultural values. Damn, that sounds like a call for a full-blown culture war to me.

In terms of McVety's campaign on this, and other issues, I presume that McVety has never met with a single Conservative Minister, staffer or PMO on any of this given that he is not registered as a lobbyist, though his past bragging about lobbying ministers suggests otherwise. That's really not my main point though, and I am far from an expert on federal lobbying rules and I have no evidence that McVety has ever broken any of our lobbying laws.

Politically, This is a potential nightmare for Stephen Harper. Frank Graves was a distraction, McVety is a real risk to him and his party. Evangelical Christians form a critical component of the Conservative Party grassroot base (read: they donate a lot of money to the party and are the people who hammer in signs during elections). While McVety no more speaks for the entire Canadian Evangelical community than the head of any broad-based lobby group, he is far from irrelevant.

Does Harper cut loose McVety and his call for a U.S. style war on the judiciary (never mind his comments on abortion) and risk the ire of his base? Does he support McVety's call that only "strict constructionist" judges should be appointed? If so, what test does he plan on using? Which issues? How does he reconcile this with the Charter?

Again, Frank Graves and his comments were moronic but they were largely irrelevant to the Liberal Party. Charles McVety is a whole other issue and to McVety, a culture war is the most important issue of our time. The next steps on this have nothing to do with Michael Ignatieff and everything to do with Stephen Harper.

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