A network of churches in Waterdown, Ont., took an active role in the political process for Canada’s upcoming federal election. On September 29, Bethel Christian Reformed Church hosted a candidate forum of those seeking to be the Member of Parliament for the local riding (district).
David Sweet (Conservative Party), David Urquhart (Green Party), Jennifer Stebbing (Liberal Party), and Mike DiLivio (New Democratic Party) answered questions that dealt with issues of importance to the Christian community.
Bethel CRC proposed the idea of this forum to the Waterdown Church Network, where it was fully supported. Various denominations, including the United and Baptist churches, worked together on this community event. The evening began with prayer, and each topic was framed within the context of the church and Christianity. The questions addressed topics such as climate change, refugees’ rights, poverty, physician assisted death, indigenous peoples, missing and murdered aboriginal women, international aid, and peace in the Middle East.
The forum was amicable as the four candidates were polite and respectful to each other. Even when they disagreed, the candidates were good-natured. When discrediting an opponent’s statement on Canada’s budget for international aid, incumbent MP David Sweet quipped, “I feel strange correcting people in a church when I’m not the pastor.”
The candidates thanked Bruce Adema, pastor of Bethel CRC, and the other community clergy for facilitating this forum. Attendees expressed how well organized the evening was, appreciating that each politician was given equal opportunity to respond to each question.
For Peg Vandermeer, a member of Bethel CRC, this will be first Canadian election that she is able to vote as she just received her dual citizenship. She enjoyed the opportunity to see her local candidates and hear their positions.
“We are Christians and we are citizens,” said Adema. “We have a responsibility to be part of the democratic process, and this forum was a good way to show that involvement and show support to our candidates.”