Canadian politics · Religion and politics

Religion at the Manning Networking Conference 2013

Today I attended the 2013 Manning Networking Conference as part of Professor David Rayside’s project on religion and political parties. My main interest was to see how religion and social conservatism were incorporated into the discussions alongside other streams of the conservative movement. Generally the results were quite mixed. On the first panel there was a great deal of common ground between social-conservative Andrea Mrozek, Executive Director of the Institute for Marriage and Family, and libertarian Matt Bufton from the Institute of Liberal studies. Both agreed that the state can be harmful for the family, and that a strong family helped to reduce the need for government.

However, this kind of agreement was largely missing on the afternoon panel on ‘Conservatives and Cities.’ On one hand the Manning Foundation’s David Seymour argued that city planning should be replaced with a much-more free market approach. On the other Ray Pennings from the Christian inspired think tank Cardus countered that at least some planning was needed to ensure that cities are inclusive and reflect social values.

Religion and social conservativism were also major themes in Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s discussion of the Conservative party’s efforts to reach out to new immigrant communities. He described his efforts to meet community leaders in religious institutions and show how their values of law, order, and family were Conservative values as well. However, Kenney also highlighted his decision to ban face coverings from citizenship ceremonies, one that clearly has a much larger impact for one religious community than others.

Ron Paul and Preston ManningOverall though libertarianism was by far the most dominant variant of conservatism at the event –  although the crowd may have been skewed by the many in attendance who said they came specifically to hear Ron Paul. The former congressman received a rock-star like welcome and earned repeated rounds of applause during his speech, including somewhat unexpectedly for his call to legalize hard drugs.

Canadian politics · Religion and politics

Celebrating the Career of Professor David Rayside

Rayside Symposium
David Rayside speaking at the symposium to honour his retirement.

On Friday, March 5th I attended a symposium at the University of Toronto to celebrate the work of Professor David Rayside, who will be retiring at the end of June. During his career Professor Rayside not only produced several outstanding pieces of scholarship, but also worked to make U of T a better place for faculty and students.

I’m very proud to have spent the past three years as a research assistant for Professor Rayside’s project on religious conservatism and political parties in Canada, and know that retiring is unlikely to make much of a change to the pace of his work.

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And we’re back – highlights from the past 10 months

It’s been a very, very long time since I posted anything.

It began last summer as a temporary hiatus to help me focus on finishing my dissertation proposal and research ethics before my daughter was born. Then the hiatus was then extended to allow for some family time, and then again so that I could prepare for my first field work excursion to London and Edinburgh. Field work then turned out to be more demanding then expected, and since being back I’ve been quite busy trying to transcribe the UK interviews before I begin my Canadian research.

But enough excuses, here are the highlights:

  • June 2012 – Presented two papers at the Canadian Political Science Association Meeting in Edmonton, Alberta
  • July – Dissertation proposal accepted
  • August – Research ethics approved; beautiful daughter born
  • September – Published an op-ed with Peter Loewen and Michael MacKenzie on iPolitics regarding the need to balance population equality and the representation of communities when designing electoral boundaries
  • October to November – Field research at Westminster under the expert guidance of Robert Hazell from the Constitution Unit at UCL
  • November to December – Field research at the Scottish Parliament with wonderful support from Annis Mae Timpson and the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Edinburgh
  • January 2013 – Returned to Ottawa; found out I had received a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement which would enable a return trip to the UK for follow-up interviews

ImageHappily my wife and daughter were able to accompany me for the three months of field work in the UK. Even more happily, my daughter appears to be a natural traveler, and took well to the various plane, train, tube, bus, and boat trips that she was subjected to (the picture is her on the train from London to Edinburgh). The only lasting damage appears to be that I still have the tendency to refer to her diapers as nappies.

I also must thank the many family members, friends, and colleagues who helped us survive the past few months. Whether it was those who brought us food after our daughter was born, our friend in London who sheltered us for 6 weeks, or the politicians who took the time out of their schedules to meet with me, I have been overwhelmed at the generosity and kindness that my family and I have received. It would not have been possible to keep going with my research without your support.