By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
John Geddes on the NDP leader’s rise through the ruthless world of Quebec politics to become the PM’s toughest opponent yet
Thomas Mulcair grew up in a Montreal suburb as the second-oldest of 10 children in his family, which is noteworthy enough. Even more remarkable, though, at least by today’s standards, is that he remembers his parents hoping for just a few more kids. “When my mother would have a child,” the NDP leader recalled recently, “my father would always bring her 14 roses, because they decided when they were married that they would have 14 children.” His father, Harry, was an insurance man of Irish-Catholic descent, and his mother, Jeanne, a teacher from an old French-Canadian family, was of course Catholic, too. For another public figure, details like these might be mere background colour. In Mulcair’s case, apart from the roses, every bit of it—the many brothers and sisters, the Quebec roots, a Catholicism devout enough to entail mass on weekdays before school, even the Irish streak—is central to his emergence as a formidable political fighter and plausible future prime minister.
By his own account in an interview with Maclean’s, backed up by the observations of some who have worked closely with him, Mulcair’s upbringing in such a large, tightly knit, complex household remains the template for his important relationships. Aides and allies say he maintains unusually close contact with family and old friends, cultivating an intensely personal network and leaning on time-tested loyalties more than most top politicians. While he is no longer an observant churchgoer, Mulcair’s brand of left-leaning politics flows directly out of his home province’s distinctive and deep well of progressive Catholicism—a powerful influence on seminal Quebec politicians of the past, including Pierre Trudeau. As for Mulcair’s Irishness, Graham Carpenter, an old family friend and long-time aide, alludes to his “Irish world view,” and not jokingly, as an explanation for Mulcair’s storied scrappiness and more. “There’s mystique to it,” Carpenter says, “that’s for sure.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 28 Comments
Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, said on Facebook last month that it was “outrageous” the Catholic school board in Peterborough, Ont. had invited Trudeau to speak for a second time in three years. “If they are looking for a truly great speaker, who also happens to be Catholic, perhaps they might invite [Immigration] Minister Jason Kenney,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote on Oct. 12. “Are there any tenets of the Catholic faith that Justin supports?”
Here is video coverage of Mr. Trudeau’s appearance in Peterborough, including testimonials from obviously traumatized young people. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 4:32 PM - 2 Comments
Jason Kenney talks about faith and politics with the National Catholic Register.
I guess the big question is how your religious faith and your politics relate. Is there a connection?
Well, I believe in a pluralistic, liberal democracy. Everyone comes into the public square with certain core convictions, a certain worldview that’s informed by most deeply held convictions about the ultimate questions. For me, that view is partly formed by my Catholic faith. I think it’s important in a liberal democracy that people of faith not be excluded from participating in democratic debate, but it’s also important they not impose a kind of narrow, sectarian agenda, but rather to advance the common good in a way that brings others along.
For me, the lodestar is human dignity, the inviolable nature of human dignity. This is a principle which obviously is deeply grounded in Catholic social thought, but it is also one that has universal social application.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 177 Comments
Those who attend religious services are more charitable and more eager to volunteer
These are not the brightest days for organized religion. Pope Benedict XVI has come under sustained scrutiny for his role in the investigation of sex abuse scandals tarring the Catholic Church. The practices of fundamentalist Muslim women are being attacked by the Quebec government as uncivilized. And, more broadly, many traditional and long-standing congregations across the country must face the reality of their own worldly demise due to substantial declines in Sunday attendance.
Despite all this bad news, however, there remains much to celebrate about religion and its relationship with society at large. Not the least of which is that those who attend religious services are the most charitable in their donations and the most eager to volunteer. Without organized religion, the world would be a much poorer and less comfortable place for those less fortunate.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
A dairy farmer who worked from dawn until dusk, he knew each of his ‘girls’ by their spots
Nicolas Huberdeau was born on Dec. 3, 1959, one of nine children—three girls and six boys—born to René and Marguerite, dairy farmers and strong Catholics from St. Lazare, Man. The tightly knit francophone village of 300—an “island” among anglophone communities where the Church remains important, says town councillor Phil Fafard—sits on the eastern edge of the Qu’Appelle Valley, 10 miles from the Saskatchewan border. “We were a poor family,” says Guy, the eldest, “so we made our own fun.” Nic, an “awkward” little boy, was working the fields and milking cows by the time he was seven, says Guy. Using shoebox lids, he’d design “his ideal barn,” figuring “which cow should be in which stall,” says Cam, their younger brother.
There was never any doubt where Nic was headed in life, and at 13 he made it official when he dropped out of École Saint-Lazare. “His passion was farming,” Cam explains. At 24, Nic and Guy took over their parents’ dairy operation. Six years later, at a dance in St. Lazare, Nic met Rebecca Fouillard, a nurse’s aide a decade his junior. He was “the shyest person,” says Rebecca—“the kind who’d go bright red at the drop of a hat.” She loved his gentle manners; they were married within a year, and were later joined by two sons: Shane and Mathiew.