As anyone remotely familiar with the Canadian media knows, the coverage of news events is decidedly tilted toward the liberal end of the moral spectrum. With the exception of perhaps The National Post, there are few significant outlets for social conservative commentary in this country. The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, and Maclean’s Magazine serve up the usual anti-Christian dishes, while the CBC – that bastion of balanced reporting itself – provides the extra leftist spice necessary to make the meal complete. Although relatively insulated in this country, the mainstream media in the U.S. has certainly taken their lumps this past year. The bloggers, one might recall, were responsible for bringing down CBS’s longtime anchor Dan Rather whose shoddy journalism earned him his own self-titled scandal. A short time thereafter CNN’s vice president, Eason Jordan, was caught lying about American soldiers by falsely claiming American soldiers were killing western journalists. These two events and the exponential rise of the upstart conservative FOX News has caused a major shift in the media loyalties of middle America.
Even the deep freeze in Canada has begun to thaw somewhat. With the recent admission of FOX News into Canada via digital cable and satellite, Canadians are now starting to understand that there is indeed life outside of the CBC’s patronizing liberal claptrap. But, unbeknownst to many in Canada and long before FOX News made its appearance on the Canadian scene, a young home schooling mother was creating the first significant crack in the Canadian media’s stranglehold on public perception. Inspired by Stockwell Day’s political ascendancy and George W. Bush’s 2000 electoral win, Connie Wilkins of Kingston, Ontario started to become more active politically, especially in the area of social conservative policies like abortion and other family issues. After the 2000 election, Ms. Wilkins ventured to create a Canadian internet forum for ‘principled conservatism’ called Freedominion.ca, modeled after its wildly popular American cousin, FreeRepublic.com.
Starting with only 20 members in 2001, the FreeDominion.ca has grown rapidly to a current membership of 5,000 with 150,000 unique visitors viewing 4 million pages each month. FreeDominion’s membership is roughly divided into three groups: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and democratic reformers. Judging by the number of times the site is a target for cyber attacks by its opponents, it is definitely making its presence felt in the Canadian political arena. Aside from the lively discussion on the board itself, FreeDominion has been a crucible for organizing and igniting grass roots social and democratic activism in support of social conservative causes like opposing gay activism, defending marriage, and supporting the presidency of George W. Bush.
Wilkins believes that Christian, and particularly Catholic, activism is absolutely crucial for any sustainable and successful change in the cultural climate in Canada. This is one of the reasons she established this popular forum: to give Christians and other social conservatives a voice in the current political landscape. She stresses, however, that while Free Dominion is the voice of principled conservatism in Canada, it has no official affiliation with any political party. She has maintained the website’s independence from all political parties in order to allow visitors to provide a robust critique of any policy which is opposed to conservative principles.
Wilkins believes it is incumbent on the Catholic population to become more politically and socially active if there is any hope of Canada preserving its Christian heritage and religious freedoms. While not Catholic herself, she sees many young Catholics becoming energized about their faith, and wants to be able to harness that enthusiasm with initiatives like FreeDominion’s discussion board and possible internet radio. Wilkins also believes that a true ecumenical spirit among Christians – Catholic and Protestant alike – is beginning to take root. Old doctrinal boundaries which once served as impediments for co-operation are no longer problematic. As the social liberal establishment has become more radical and aggressive in pushing its agenda, Christian denominations are splitting up on the basis of moral issues. That necessarily engenders unity and resolve among denominations which had little or nothing to do with one another in the past. This phenomenon, she believes, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in unifying the body of Christ.
The heightened co-operation among Christians is by no means the only example of better unity in the right wing. Christians are starting to make inroads with fiscal conservatives who are beginning to count the costs of socially liberal policies. Pension, health care, and other social program costs are ballooning at alarming rates, and many are starting to realize the impact of socially disastrous policies (like abortion) which discourage a couple from having large families. In the end, sound financial planning is predicated on a healthy respect for human life and the traditional family. Only now is the light starting to dawn on the financial mess Canada is about to enter.
Social conservatives are also starting to make alliances with democratic reformers who want more accountability from government. With the autocratic recent push for same-sex ‘marriage’ by the elite few in this country, for instance, reformers are finding common cause with pro-family advocates. Moreover, with higher immigration levels from some Islamic countries which do not understand or accept the principle of religious freedom, Canada’s own heritage of freedom is being threatened.
Wilkins believes that all of these factors will have a huge impact on the political landscape in Canada in the next few years. She is very hopeful that the Catholic presence will have a large part to play in it.