Over the last two weeks, the odd debate about Stephen Harper’s religion has wandered off in various directions.
Mr. Martin worries that faith is supplanting “reason.” I think “reason” is too far down the list of important policy-drivers in Ottawa to care very much. Politicians believe all sorts of stupid things for all sorts of stupid reasons. In the end, I fail to see the point of all this speculation … well, unless it’s to bash conservatives and evangelicals for sport. Democracy provides us with a wonderful opportunity, every four years or so at the most, to judge politicians for what they do. What does it matter why they do it?
As someone who supports rational, scientific, evidence-based policy making – at least as an ideal – I see a government which often chooses a different path for what often seem inscrutable reasons, or at least unspoken ones. If the Harper government has a better explanation than it has adduced for ignoring the climate science, it should offer it up. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with posing sensible questions about what those reasons may be.
Harper does indeed make his decisions based on what might be called a religion. But it’s not Christianity, or Judaism, or paganism. Rather, it’s the one true faith for politicians world-wide; I call it The Holy Church of Winning Political Power.
Paul Rowe, Don Lenihan and Michael Behiels take the opportunity to debate the separation of church and state.
All of this from the idle speculation of one writer (Andrew Nikiforuk) that the Harper government’s environmental policy is inspired by an evangelical rejection of climate science. Is it reasonable to probe the Prime Minister’s religious beliefs? Sure. Is is possible that his religious beliefs in some way inform his political actions? Sure. But is there any evidence that Mr. Harper’s environmental policy has been so influenced? No.
For that matter, is there a pattern of formulating policy according to religious doctrine that could lead one to believe his environmental policy was so influenced? I don’t think so. Has he previously acknowledged the science of climate change? Yes. Is there another, entirely plausible explanation—that the government’s environmental policies are in line with the wishes of an electorally significant plurality of voters—for the government’s actions? I’d suggest so.