Michael Coren: Stéphane Dion finds God
By NATIONAL POST
Added: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Chris Way for the link.
Michael Coren: Stéphane Dion finds God
Last week, the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition — Liberal chief Stéphane Dion — sat down with me for a one-hour interview on my TV program, The Michael Coren Show. Within the first 10 minutes of the discussion he made several mentions of God. These weren't passing phrases or clumsy slang but obvious, absolute references to the entity so fashionably unfashionable in left-wing circles these days. You could have knocked me down with a Gospel tract!
He was, for example, anxious to "reconcile people with God's environment" and was committed to the planet "given to us by God." Which is somewhat surprising. The deity is not a popular debating point for Liberal leaders. Actually, the Supreme Being is mentioned by ambitious Liberal politicians about as often as Brian Mulroney's good points. So I was rude enough to ask Mr. Dion if he was doing this — sounding religious — because he had been told that the station on which my show appears each night, CTS, was faith-based. Frankly, I expected him to deny, obfuscate or simply lie. It says a great deal about the man's integrity as well as his innocence that he replied on air with a simple, "This is true." A pause, then, "I have been told that this is important to the people who watch this show."
Which is why he had mentioned God more often in the space of five minutes than most Liberals do in five parliamentary sessions. In fact, his people had it wrong. Although the network itself is broadly faith-based, much of its schedule has no religious content at all, and my program is a current affairs show with an audience of more than 200,000 people, the majority of whom do not identify with any particular faith. We feature social activists, politicians and authors rather than pastors, priests and bishops. But the point is that Stéphane Dion was badly advised and — this is important — willing to tell the truth about that advice on national TV.
When Stephen Harper won the last election and ended his victory speech with, "God Bless Canada," there were many column inches devoted to how he was introducing American, un-Canadian and fundamentalist values into a country that is devoted to the separation of church and state — which, of course, is not a Canadian principle at all but is quintessentially American and is concerned with protecting Christians from government, not the other way around. Dion was not the Liberal leader at the time and such foolishness is not his fault. But surely God has not joined the Liberal Party of Canada.
I pushed a little further. Is this God of whom you speak an important factor in your life? "It is part of the hope I have" was the reply. "A creator who is full of love. I hope this is true. I am a man of hope. I will play hope but Stephen Harper plays fear." Aha. So it's less the God of strength, love, judgment and mercy who is the eternal alpha and the omega, but rather the postmodern godhead of secular niceness who we hope might be the ABC of solving our social and economic problems.
There are worse people to worship. Or pretend to worship. And there are far worse people than Stéphane Dion, a profoundly decent man who is a perhaps the most honest leader of his party in living memory. Being a prime minister, however, requires more than Canadian niceness. Sadly, it requires steel and guile.
After the show, Dion asked about the denominational breakdown of those of our viewers who are Christian. "You see, the Catholics can be relied on to vote Liberal, always, but the Protestants much less so," he explained. "It's very difficult to get them to vote for us. I am a Catholic." As were Trudeau, Chrétien and Martin. Men who championed abortion, same-sex marriage and many other policies that ran counter to basic Catholic teachings. In other words, they were Catholic by birth but Liberal by belief and works.
His words seemed so naive, so vulnerable to critique, so — forgive me Mr. Dion — callow and such a product of inexperience. Goodness it's hard not to like him but it's equally hard to imagine him being tough with our enemies and careful with our friends. He listens to well-meaning but weak advice and then admits that he's been moulded for the moment. Canadians generally expect more from their political masters and that God chap expects more — even from Liberals.
Michael Coren is an author and broadcaster.
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