Reactions from readers and columnists to Ottawa’s Archbishop’s stance on pro-abortion politicians are causing me to pause and reflect on the place of moral principles in a politician’s public life.
Most of all, I am trying to find a way out of saying “I want politicians to follow their conscience when in accordance with mine but not otherwise.” Because let’s be honest with ourselves here: as much as I want pro-life politicians to “vote their conscience,” I would as soon withhold that opportunity to Francine Lalonde and her ilk.
I have to come to terms, somehow, with the inescapable fact that Members of Parliament are voted into office to represent their constituents, not themselves. This is the cornerstone of our system of democratic representation and the only way we can argue, with a straight face, that we all have a hand in the legislative process. Accordingly, there are two ways in which my MP can adequately represent my conscience on Parliament Hill. The first one is for me to elect a candidate whose moral compass more or less matches mine. Failing that, it is also my MP’s duty to make an honest effort at finding out where his or her constituents’ moral views lie. And I am not talking about sending a few emails to trusted supporters.
Either way, the ability to represent one’s constituents in a morally-charged vote demands that moral issues be brought to the forefront of electoral campaigning. In these days of religious, cultural and social pluralism, I want my moral interests represented as well as my political and economic ones.
Where does that leave Catholic politicians who want to be in communion with their church’s teachings while sitting in Parliament? They should be elected as such.
Knowing exactly who and what we are voting for? There’s an idea.