Catholics losing faith in Liberals

For good reason.

Catholic voters, once a pillar of support that helped keep the Liberals a dominant force in Canadian politics, have steadily shifted their allegiances in recent years so that the party can no longer count on their votes.

Two separate studies conclude that the crumbling Catholic vote has played a significant role in Liberal decline in the last three elections.

(…)

Gidengil, one of several authors of a 2009 academic analysis of the last four federal elections, said Catholic support for the Liberals dropped dramatically from 54 per cent in the 2000 election to 30 per cent in 2008. The data came from the expansive Canadian Election Study, an ongoing survey of voting behaviour.

The Conservatives, the main benefactors, surpassed the Liberals in 2008 by capturing 40 per cent of the Catholic vote. (Source)

I think part of the reason is the general decline in popular support for the Liberals among the Canadian population. But the decline among Catholics is sharper than the overall decline. Part of the reason must be related to social issues, particularly same-sex marriage.

“I don’t know if they (Catholics) are at the stage where they want to forgive and forget or whether it’s over.”

Forgiveness would require repentance and reforms in the Liberal party. Instead, they seem to be drifting further to the left on social issues.

McKay concedes the party made mistakes, such as portraying same-sex marriage opponents as unenlightened. The Liberal government legalized gay marriage in 2005.

McKay suspects that the Liberal party also alienated Catholics and other religious groups by painting the Conservatives, particularly during election campaigns, as religious zealots who could not be trusted on social issues

You got that right. And since they haven’t changed their mind on these issues, there’s no reason for Catholics to return to vote for them.

The way back to win the hearts of Catholics is to convince them that Liberals are still the party that protects the little guy and is strongest on social initiatives, such as anti-poverty programs, which the church holds dear, said Grenville.

I don’t think that will work. A movement is growing in the Church to raise the profile of life issues. The D&P scandal is a reflection of the old being booted out by the new.

In an election guide posted on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website, the group urges Catholics to vote with “discernment,” taking into account a candidate’s or party’s position on numerous issues, such as respect for human life and dignity from conception until natural death, reducing poverty, fighting homelessness and taking action against human trafficking.

Unfortunately, the Bishop’s guide did not give emphasis to life issues.

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