3 May 2023 |
On April 15, the Ruth Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brampton, Ontario, welcomed controversial right-wing Canadian politician Pierre Poilievre to address the congregation. Poilievre was introduced by Pastor Jermaine Parker as a self-made man who “believes in the great Canadian promise.”
His address to the congregation was backdropped by his campaign graphics and slogan: “Pierre Poilievre – Bring It Home”.
Poilievre greeted the congregation with “Happy Sabbath” and began by joking,
When I got here and they sat me in the front row, I asked the pastor, why is it the politicians are always seated in the front row of churches? Is it because they’re the most important? He said no, it’s because they’re the most in need of redemption.
He emphasized Canada’s problems.
Everything feels broken right now in Canada. One in five people are forced to eat at food banks in Mississauga. Some people have actually gone to food banks to ask for help with medical assistance in dying, not because they’re sick but because they’re so poor, and life has become so miserable and hopeless. Nine in ten young people believe they’ll never be able to afford a home here in Canada with all this land we have around us—the second biggest country in the world. … Then crime is ravaging our streets—we see shootings, stabbings, and violence right across the country, up 32 percent. Everything feels broken and our government is extending medical assistance in dying as a solution to mental illness rather than filling people with hope that their lives are worth living. All of this feels broken.
He appealed to Christian values:
The good news is we’re going to replace this hurt with hope. We’ve just been through the Easter season where we celebrate the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, that he died on the cross to take all of our sins with him and then rose on the third day to give new life to every single person who accepts it. And this is a wonderful message of renewal and redemption for every single person on earth – a message of hope, that all of us can celebrate. And that’s why I look forward to locking our arms with all of you to restore Canada’s promise, in a country where that works for the people who’ve done the work, that respects parents and pastors and freedom of expression and family values—these are the things that unite us all as Canadians.
Poilievre is a long-term member of the Canadian parliament who was elevated to the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada after the last federal election. Poilievre’s populism has been compared to Donald Trump’s: he has made controversial statements about Canada’s aboriginal people, women, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQ people. He views the separation of state and church differently than is usual for Canadian parties, framing politics as us-versus-them in religious and cultural matters. He became well-known for his support of the “Freedom Convoy” of January 2022, when hundreds of large trucks entered Ottawa and blocked the downtown core for 11 days.
Because of his religious orientation, Poilievre has found support among Canadian Seventh-day Adventists. He tweeted his visit here.
At around 800 members, the Ruth church is among the larger Adventist congregations in Canada. It is not located in the district which Poilievre represents in parliament.