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How Dean Del Mastro Turned Me into a Political Animal

Sunday, December 10, 2006
There are times when I start to wonder if I'm living in Peyton Place. Or Stepford. Or The Twilight Zone.

Now don't get me wrong: there's much to love about Peterborough -- we've got great bookstores, amazing coffee shops, a thriving arts community, Trent University, and -- being situated in the heart of the Kawarthas -- you couldn't ask for more beautiful scenery. And that's just the short list of great features.

But when your local MP gets up in the House of Commons and declares Canada a theocracy -- well, to paraphrase a comment made by another blogger this week, you have to wonder what percentage of the 35.9% of Peterborough residents who voted for Dean Del Mastro would publicly admit to having done so today. (If people aren't at least slightly embarrassed, I'm definitely living in The Twilight Zone.)

Here's what Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro had to say, just in case you think I'm making this stuff up.

"Separation of church and state is an American idea, not Canadian, Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro proclaimed in the House of Commons yesterday during debate on same-sex marriage. The supremacy of God is laid out in the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Del Mastro said when he rose shortly after 9 pm to argue in favour of the traditional definition of marriage. 'Ultimately faith influences how this House makes law,' he said. 'The separation of church and state was set up to protect the church from the state, not the state from the church.' " (Peterborough Examiner, Thursday, December 7, 2006, Page A3).

I hit my favourite search engine to find out what people other than Mr. Del Mastro have to say about the separation of church in state in Canada. A couple of keystrokes later, I unearthed an opinion from The Law Commission of Canada (an independent federal law reform agency that advises Parliament on how to improve and modernize Canada's laws) and which, interestingly enough, recently lost its funding during the same round of cuts that slashed funding to Status of Women Canada).

Here's how the Law Commission explains the separation of church and state in Canada:

Anne Saris for her part writes that there is an "implicit principle of separation between religious institutions and the state" in Canada. Justice Muldoon of the Federal Court of Canada has reiterated this point:

"The paramount imperative and value, found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is that Canada is a secular State...It is so because of two constitutional ingredients which are inimical, if not fatal, to a theocratic State: everyone's fundamental freedom of conscience and religion, as stated in s. 2(a) of the Charter, and everyone's fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, as stated in s. 2(b) of the Charter."

Funny thing. Whenever I follow in the footsteps of Dean Del Mastro, I find out about more funding cuts to organizations that are doing vital work in this country and that really matter to Canadians. (Somehow I failed to notice that Dean spoke in favour of the CBC cuts last summer. I must have missed an issue of The Peterborough Examiner -- something I almost never do.) And that, in turn, makes me more political by the day. I guess I have Dean Del Mastro to thank for this political awakening. Next thing you know, I'm actually going to be a member of a political party as opposed to a freelance voter (my modus operandi, up until now). Dean Del Mastro, you have created a political animal,.

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| posted by Ann D @ 12:35 PM