I thought my series of blogs on the election would be over by now but one more thought came to me.

One thing that is troubling about the election results is the polarization and regionalism that is evident. The Conservatives have all but one of the seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan and the Liberals have none. The Liberals got most of their seats in the so-called “905” area in and around Toronto and almost all the seats in Atlantic Canada while the Conservatives have very few. Perhaps the most troubling development is that the Bloc Quebecois [BQ] went from 10 to 32 seats in Quebec by taking seats from all three major parties. I’m not even sure how we can have a purely regional party sitting in a national parliament; if that would be the case across the country (some Albertans are thinking about it) we may as well just have meetings of the provincial premiers and be done with a national election. But we are not the United Provinces of Canada and we do have some issues of national concern that could not be addressed by such meetings. This is not the solution for the problem of regional polarization and definitely not the solution for national unity! I’m aware of the history of the British domination of the French and how French Quebecers have a valid claim for a distinct society, although they ignore significant French settlements in New Brunswick and Manitoba and smaller ones throughout Canada. I remind us that both official language peoples are guilty of the subjugation of our First Nations; that’s who needs some national representatives at the table if anybody does!

For religious people, the most disconcerting thing about the resurgence of the BQ is that they are supportive of the “secular law” put forth by the provincial government in Quebec. This law, that forbids any civic employees from having any visible religious symbols on their person while at work, is a slap in the face of Canada’s constitution that guarantees the freedom of religion. The sad thing is that no national leader, other than Jagmeet Singh, spoke up with any clarity against this, which is why the NDP lost more seats in Quebec than any other party.

As an Anabaptist Christian, the freedom of religious choice and expression was what my ancestors in the faith died for in a time when citizens automatically, or by force, adopted the religion of their region’s leaders. Quebec’s leaders are in effect forcing all its citizens to bow to the god of secularism or at least keep their faith completely private and invisible which is an impossible thing for any devout religious person to do. Albeit, according to an earlier blog, it is a very Canadian thing to attempt! Secularism is not neutral “non-religion” as those making the law seem to assume; it comes with its own set of dogmas, rituals, symbols, and moral codes that are no more Quebecois or Canadian than the values of other religions. Each one has something to contribute to the whole.

Although it seems I may have been overly optimistic about responsible government in my last blog, I continue to pray that Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Scheer will put the common good of all of the country’s citizens ahead of their personal and party agendas. As the kids said in the Green ad, “It works better when you work together.”