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.
Overall 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.
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.
Professor David Rayside, Jerry Sabin and I have put together a panel on the recent Alberta election. The discussion will take place on Monday, May 14 from 2:00 to 4:00 in Sidney Smith Hall at University of Toronto, room 3130.
The Alberta election produced a surprising victory for incumbent Progressive Conservative Premier Alison Redford despite all polls prior to the vote predicting a majority government for the Wildrose Alliance and its leader Danielle Smith.
The panel will generate a lively discussion on what the election results mean for the future of the province, its links with the rest of Canada, and the public opinion industry. In addition to our work exploring the role of faith in Alberta party politics, Professor Chris Cochrane will present on the perils of election prediction, and Gregory Eady and Yannick Dufresne will share their findings from the Alberta Vote Compass project.
What happens in a democracy when the views of experts and the desires of the people come into conflict? This was the question addressed at the 2011 Walter Gordon Symposium – an annual event put on by Massey College and the School of Public Policy and Governance to discuss a subject of immediate importance to Canada.
I had the privilege to present on research that I have been assisting Professor David Rayside with on the relationship between religious-activism and Canadian political parties. Specifically, the research looks at the factors that led the Ontario government to abandon changes to the province’s Sex Ed curriculum following protests by religious conservatives. Ultimately we concluded that it was not the pressure from the religious conservatives themselves that sparked the government’s reversal, but rather the fear that the issue could resonate with other constituencies as well, such as Catholic voters and new Canadians.