Reminder: The views and opinions expressed in our Ministry Matters blog posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official policy or position of the Anglican Church of Canada.
I know that it’s not polite to talk about politics. I especially know that religious leaders shouldn’t use the pulpit as a place to tell their parishioners how to vote. But I also know that my parishioners are confident in being able to think for themselves, and while they respect me, they don’t ascribe to me authority to make decisions for them. Our faith tradition places a premium on the notion that the free exchange of ideas enriches the mental and spiritual lives of all of us.
I am voting Green this election. I have been one of those undecided voters throughout this campaign cycle. It was the debate on October 7 that finally sealed the deal for me. This time, I simply can’t stomach putting my vote toward a version of reality that isn’t true. I can’t keep propping up the delusions we are perpetually seduced into collectively propping up. I will not stand by silently and allow the comforting stories of “business as usual” go unchallenged.
It actually wasn’t the debate itself that made up my mind, it was the commentary offered the next morning. Although there were four leaders on that stage who represent national parties and therefore have enough available seats to become Prime Minister, only three of them were discussed as serious candidates for the job; only three of them were routinely quoted in the analysis that was offered; only three of them were considered to offer mainstream enough platforms to possibly govern our country. Amazingly, the one candidate that was left out of serious consideration is the only one whose policy is governed by the science of where we actually are, not just as a country, but as a planet. She is also the only one presenting a platform that is based on real best-practice solutions for how we go forward responsibly in addressing the climate emergency on which all other key issues hinge: affordability, economy, Indigenous relationships, global leadership, immigration, human rights and refugee policies.
I am voting for my local green party representative in the hopes of getting Elizabeth May and the Green Party elected. I am doing so for the following reasons:
1. Elizabeth May is a woman. What I saw in that debate, and particularly what I heard afterward, was a dismissal of the most competent, seasoned, calm and well-informed candidate on that stage. She responded to every question with concrete information and concrete solutions. The fact that she is not a top contender for the job of leading our country leads to me to conclude that gender must be a factor. Is this the only reason she is overlooked? Of course not. And yet, we need only take a cursory look at the statistics around pay equity and lack of female representation in top leadership positions to know that gender does still colour the way we see competency.
As a female leader myself, I know that I am often asked questions and held to a standard that doesn’t apply to my male counterparts. I have to pedal just a little bit harder to earn respect that seems to be granted to men naturally. If I am too competent, I have to worry that I might threaten or intimidate others. It’s an exhausting tight-rope.
I support Elizabeth May as a way of furthering the legitimacy of female leaders, not because women bring more compassion and kindness and civility to leadership positions. Some women do this. But they don’t inherently do this just because they are female, and I know some amazing men who bring similar qualities to the table too. Rather, I want more female leaders in positions of power because “the harvest is great, and the labourers are few.” We’re in crisis as a people and a planet. We need all hands on deck. We need to draw leadership from the greatest talent pool available to us. We need women in that pool because, very simply, including women doubles our options, and we need all the leadership options we can get.
I support Elizabeth May because I am sick of the narrative that looks right through our brightest and best because we have some ingrained notion of what a leader looks and sounds like.
2. Elizabeth May is fiscally responsible. Fiscal responsibility is a top priority for me. Judicious and careful stewardship of the resources we have been given is hard-wired into our Christian faith. I am utterly baffled as to how ‘fiscal responsibility’ came to be associated with any platform that doesn’t imagine care for the place we live and our provision of the possibility of a future on this planet as part and parcel for how we talk about the economy. How can affordability — by all measures the most important issue in the key GTA swing ridings about which I hear so much — be imagined as separate from how we spend the resources of air and water and soil that make all other daily living possible? The word ‘conservative’ means that policies and platforms should be shaped around preserving and caring for the resources and ideas and values that have been entrusted to us. The only person in that debate who was putting fiscal responsibility and conservative values at the centre of what she was offering was Elizabeth May and her Green Party.
3. Elizabeth May presented the best idea. The most important moment of the debate came when Elizabeth May offered to form a non-partisan Climate Cabinet after the fall election. It was the perfect opportunity for any of the other five candidates on that stage to show true leadership and a real commitment to the peril that we face as a species. Elizabeth May handed this gem to her male colleagues on a silver platter. If just one of them had said, “Yes, I will be part of that. We need to work together on this. Politics be damned,” that would have been the winning headline the next day.
Instead, she was ignored; the debate went on; business as usual.
It’s not business as usual. We’re at a tipping point (or perhaps beyond it). Action is required. This isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific statement. Acknowledging this fact is not optional. The hurricanes and the forest fires and the floodings and the deadly heat waves will keep screaming for us to understand what is really going on. We work together or we perish.
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The Judeo-Christian prophetic tradition is pithily said to “speak truth to power.” What that means is that our false stories are called out. The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures called out a religious narrative that had put outward signs of piety ahead of the compassion we must show to the most vulnerable. Jesus built on this prophetic tradition by storming onto the scene with the invitation to repent, to turn around and see again. He anointed women and other outsiders for leadership as apostles and evangelists and asked us to see people, not as categories and labels, but as unique individuals blessed by God to serve. He told us to be “not of the world,” and asked us to see that material wealth stockpiled as a good in and of themselves leads only to widespread material hardship for us all. Our material goods are to be received as gifts which we are to steward for responsible and generous use. Doing so makes all of us richer, in all of the ways that count. Jesus kept gathering people around the supper table and asked us to see how we are inextricably, biologically connected to one another, literally ingesting our relationship with our fellow creatures and with the planet around us every time we eat. Therefore, it is to my benefit, as well as everyone and everything else’s, if I make decisions for my own well-being that are based on a communal sense of well-being too.
The angelic messengers who herald Jesus’ arrival at various times throughout the Gospel narratives generally open with these words: don’t be afraid. They are reassuring words, because it can feel risky indeed to see the world for how it really is. This election cycle, as with most election cycles, the pressure is on once again to vote a certain way based on who might get into power otherwise. So I am going to take these angelic words with me to the ballot box. I am taking these words to heart as I write this blog.
And I leave these words with you, the reader, who may disagree heartily with me on my sharing of these ideas and who I pray will not feel threatened by this one writer’s opinion, but rather enlivened to good, hearty, life-giving and honest dialogue.