I’ve thought many things about our Prime Minister, most of it unprintable, but it never occurred to me that he was a Scrooge Humbug. By creating the Office of Religious Freedom last week our esteemed leader has effectively put the kibosh on Merry Christmas forever.
“What!” you say. Isn’t this latest non-event, announced with all pomp and ceremony at a mosque in northern Toronto, really Harper’s Reform/Alliance Party DNA rearing its ugly head once again? Isn’t the fact that Harper chose religious freedom to beat over the heads of unsuspecting aid recipients further proof that beneath that hair cut is a brain teeming with right-wing fantasies? Isn’t Harper’s decision to bring religion into the political arena an action that goes against the libertarian foundation fundamental to the very existence of a democratic Canada?
Yes, the decision to create an Office of Religious Freedom is all these things. It is also a shameful waste of money. It was announced - as if it was a cost-saving exercise - that the Office of Religious Freedom would only cost taxpayers $5,000,000 a year. Of course, $4,500,000 would go for salaries for the six-person team fighting religious intoleration everywhere in the world. The remaining $500,000 would, it seem, have to go towards airline tickets and expense accounts.
According to government sources, Harper had a devil of a time, pun intended, finding someone to lead the Office of Religious Freedom.
Andrew Bennett, a Ukrainian Catholic from eastern Canada - who once contemplated becoming a monk, finally took the job after others turned it down.
Responding to media criticism, Mr. Bennett announced that his time would be devoted to promoting religious freedom and tolerance “regardless of belief or even non-belief.” Now that’s one hell of a job description. An ambassador in the Office of Religious Freedom spending equal time promoting the rights of those who do not believe. It sounds like the punch line to a really lame joke, or maybe one of Bravo’s new reality shows.
The Office for Religious Freedom is also a justification, in the hands of those who are the majority in ridings in Toronto and Vancouver, ridings Harper desperately needs in the next election, to finally abolish the Christian Christmas. Aren’t Christmas concerts, stained-glass crayon windows, and Christmas carols just another way for Christians to impose their beliefs on others?
You can’t, Mr. Harper, have it both ways. You were probably hoping that the complexity-challenged in your party would see the creation of an Office for Religious Freedom as justification and placate the relgious right winged in your party and get off your back. And you also want the Muslims, Sikhs, agnostics and atheists to believe you’ve done something significant for their causes and, in gratitude, vote for you. When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing at all. Except a Scrooge Humbug. And he didn’t have much of a political career, either.