Skip to comments.Canada: PM (Chretien) likes to keep church and state well-separated
Posted on 05/03/2002 6:51:58 PM PDT by history_matters
OTTAWA - Jean Chrétien told Liberal MPs and Senators yesterday that the "best decision" he made after Sept. 11 was not to have a priest speak at the memorial service on Parliament Hill for the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Insiders say the Prime Minister spoke for almost 10 minutes at the weekly national caucus meeting about the dangers of mixing religion and politics and about the Catholic Church.
"It was a rant," one MP said.
Dan McTeague, a Liberal MP from Ontario, was offended by the Prime Minister's remarks, sources said. He was seen by several of his colleagues challenging Mr. Chrétien as they left the meeting. "What's your problem?" Mr. McTeague was heard yelling at Mr. Chrétien. Mr. McTeague would not comment on the incident.
According to insiders, the Prime Minister appeared to be responding to an expression of concern by one MP that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, including Canada, as a result of the troubles in the Middle East.
Mr. Chrétien said he doesn't like to mix politics and religion and was not sure that making a statement about the situation in the Middle East would help.
Last September, Mr. Chrétien and the government came under fire from many Canadians for not including a religious element in the ceremony held on Parliament Hill just days after the attacks. Representatives from all faiths, including the Catholic Church, were present, but there were no prayers and the word God was not mentioned.
"I think there is no question he made quite a concerted decision to keep church and state separate, especially after Sept. 11, which some would argue was a clash of culture and religion," a senior Liberal strategist said yesterday.
The strategist said the Prime Minister was not on a "rant," rather he was explaining that Canada is a multicultural society and "we have to respect the right of all parties and sides and not to mix the church and state. I don't think that is the same thing as going on a rant."
One MP said Mr. Chrétien spoke at length about "L'affaire Guibord," the story of a Catholic man who was refused burial in the Catholic cemetery when he died in 1870 because of his political views.
Mr. Chrétien also mentioned his autobiography, Straight From the Heart, in which he wrote about the power of the Catholic Church in rural Quebec when he was growing up.
He wrote that a Catholic bishop had at one time refused to give his Liberal grandfather communion because he was Liberal. The Monsignor preached that "Heaven is blue and Hell is red, rouge."
"At that time people were excommunicated for their liberalism, which advocated the separation of the church and state, among other radical measures," Mr. Chrétien wrote in his 1985 biography.
I also have asked St. Peregrine [for the cancer] to intercede for you. I just know he will help! =)
Someone ought to tell them that people change churches all the time. It's not abnormal. It's not terribly noteworthy!
Our PM is a national embarassment.
Communism. Sounds like this must be Russia before the end of the cold war.
Chretien sounds like another "good Catholic".
Let him who has ears to hear listen.
I'm happy you decided to stick around and fight the good fight.
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