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Bridge Forum Speaker Series, 2012

Part 4: Marci McDonald, October 2012


Marci McDonald with PEH Vice President Bob Fair

On Friday night, October 19th, in front of a big crowd with plenty of new faces, Belleville welcomed award winning journalist and writer Marci McDonald to Caper’s Restaurant. The occasion was a conversation on how much religion Canadians want in their politics.

McDonald, author of the 2010 best seller, The Armageddon Factor, was a non-partisanguest of the Prince Edward-Hastings Federal Liberal Association as a participant in their Bridge Forum Speakers Series.

Can an American style religious right take root in Canada when fewer than 15 percent of Canadians identify themselves as Evangelical Christians? McDonald makes a solid argument that Stephen Harper has created the conditions for conservative evangelicals to influence the political agenda in an unprecedented way.

The changes that are occurring in the political landscape will have a long-term impact on Canadian society.
Those in attendance on Friday came away cautioned that if there were going to be a growing role for religion in politics, there must at least be a debate about it. Canada has no law separating Church and State, as the Americans have.


A full crowd asked plenty of questions!


Part 3: Hon. Bob Rae, September 2012


Photo courtesy of Brenda Nielsen.

Even with jet lag and a bout of laryngitis, Interim leader of the national Liberal party, Bob Rae, managed to inject a good dose of enthusiasm into an address in Belleville last Thursday.

Rae told the crowd of over 150 people that party membership nationally is up by 25 thousand and on the rise. “The party rebuilding is already well under way, the party’s finances are in better shape, and we are moving on in a positive way.”

He pointed to disaffection with Stephen Harper and his government for the increase and detailed many ways he says the conservatives are letting the country down. Rae said the current government is not about dialogue or about engaging Canadians. ” Canadians are frustrated because they don’t see themselves in the (political) process.”

He also accused the Harper regime of turning politics into something manufactured and artificial… Rae said the Conservative belief in trickle down just doesn’t work and the NDP takes prosperity for granted. “The middle class, Rae says, “needs to be reinforced”

“The country wants to have a party that’s “open, modern, progressive and caring and I don’t think they want to be forced to go over to the left, they want a party that’s going to govern from the middle.” He says the party plans to do engage the public in a more open conversation about national government. “The vast majority of Canadians are closer to the Liberal Party than any other. They are not looking for ideology, or simple answers.”

“We can’t take democracy for granted,” he added. “We can’t take prosperity for granted. We can’t take accountability for granted, and we can’t take Canada for granted.”

Prince Edward Hastings Federal Liberal Association President Lenore Begley was clearly happy with the message and enthusiastic response. “We are extremely pleased to have had this visit from Bob Rae. I’m sure that he and the leader that will soon follow will continue to refine and articulate policies that Canadians want to hear and that we in the riding are helping to create. When Bob Rae said there were 25 thousand more Liberals signed up this year he was identifying a trend we are seeing right here as people recognize that Liberals are on the side of the middle class. We are working for the day when we have an MP that isn’t in the riding for photo ops, self serving announcements about how our money is being spent, selling policies that simply don’t work for the majority, and hiding others behind omnibus bills.”

Rae was participating in the same speaker series that brought Justin Trudeau to Belleville in the spring and will bring writer Marci McDonald to Belleville later in the month. She is the author of the Armageddon Factor which discusses how deeply right wing religious fundamentalism influences the Harper Conservatives.


Having Bob Rae as our speaker brought people in by the droves!


Part 2: Dr. Carolyn Bennett MP, May 2012

We were happy to have Dr. Carolyn Bennett, MP and Critic for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development at our Bridge Forum. SHe is one of the federal Liberal party’s best known and most respected voices. Her passion, intelligence, and warmth are all hallmarks of this very impressive parliamentarian.




Part 1: Dr. Kirsty Duncan MP, April 2012

We were very excited to have Dr Kirsty Duncan, MP visit us for our first ever Bridge Forum event. This recipient of the Nobel Prize spoke to us passionately and with expert knowledge on Climate Change & Water. Thanks Kirsty!